As much as I try, I am not the most organized person in the world. Every year, I make a New Year’s resolution to put all my appointments into my calendar and vow to follow it religiously. That usually lasts until the last week of January (although this year, I think I made it into February).
Don’t get me wrong, I am still fairly good at keeping my appointments straight, but every now and again one slips through the cracks (actually, I blame Apple when that happens–I have an iPhone, a desktop, and a laptop and no matter how hard I try, I can not figure out how to sync all three calendars–does anyone have any suggestions?).
Yesterday, as I was about to go out and have a quick toss of the baseball with my son (he asks me nearly every day and after saying “no” about 37 times, enough guilt had accumulated to render an affirmative), I remembered to add another online tasting into my calendar. As I did, I noticed that I was supposed to be in Chile this week.
I have only been to Chile once, a couple of years ago, and it was a magnificent trip. Yet it seems like a lifetime ago. Of course, I have no idea when Americans will be able to travel abroad again (well, I have an inkling, but I am trying to avoid making a political statement), so until then, I will have to find some contentment in the multitude of “virtual tastings” that are going on these days.
One such event (which I had luckily remembered to enter into my calendar) was a Zoom call with TerraNoble’s winemaker Marcelo Garcia to discuss Carménère, a French grape that has found a home in Chile (we also tasted a Carignan, another French grape, just for kicks).
2017 TerraNoble Carménère Gran Reserva, Maule Valley, Chile: Retail $20. 100% Carménère. A bit of a B.A.B. This is the flagship wine for TerraNoble and it is a lovely quaff. Dark color in the glass with aromas of dark berry fruit and pepper, more black than green. The palate is rich and layered with plenty of that dark fruit and oodles of the black pepper. While the tannins are supple and mostly integrated but are definitely recognizable on the finish. As I said, this is a very nice wine that should continue to improve at least for the next three years or so and for the price? Buy a case. But be careful lifting it since I figure 12 bottles of this will weigh close to a small car. Excellent. 90 Points.
2018 TerraNoble Carignan Gran Reserva, Maule Valley, Chile: Retail $19. 100% Carignan. You do not see a ton of Carignan, particularly a 100% varietal wine. But here we go. Medium ruby color, with smoky fruit aromas (blackberry, cassis, and maybe plum) in the glass. The palate is a surprising departure from the nose as it’s tart, quite tart, in fact, with sour cherry, a touch of under-ripe blackberry, and just a hint of smoke. This is really a tale of two wines and I personally prefer the one I find on the palate, which is really the one that counts, no? Very Good. 88 Points.
2016 TerraNoble Carménère CA1 Andes, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $30. 100% Carménère. TerraNoble has been producing these two different expressions of Carménère: one planted in the coastal range of Chile, and this one planted on the slopes of the Andes, about 40 miles away. Dark in the glass with wonderful fruit, sweet and inviting on the nose. There is also black pepper and a fresh herbal note: sage? mint? Regardless, it’s fantastic. Rich, fruity, a tad herbal, and well-balanced. Even at thirty bucks, this is still quite a bargain. Excellent. 91 Points.
2017 TerraNoble Carménère CA1 Andes, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $30. 100% Carménère. Holy Cow is this a B.A.B. TerraNoble has been producing these two different expressions of Carménère: one planted in the coastal range of Chile, and this one planted on the slopes of the Andes, about 40 miles away. Dark in the glass with wonderful fruit, but also a vegetal note. Not so much green pepper as jalapeño and black pepper. The palate is big, fruity, and a tad spicy (jalapeño is once again apt). While the 2016 (above) was delectable, this might (might) be a step up. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 TerraNoble Carménère CA2 Costa, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Retail $28. 100% Carménère. Another B.A.B. Half of an interesting “experiment” of two vineyards, about 40 miles apart, but with different soils, climate, and elevation but all other variables essentially the same. While the Andes version of the wine tended to be a bit vegetal, this is much more fruit-forward. Big and rich with dark fruit (blackberry, plum, cassis), plenty of spice (black pepper). While I know that many, particularly in the US, see a vegetal note as an element to avoid, I have to say I like it. That is not to take anything away from this wine, though, as it is Excellent as well. 91 Points.