One of the most enjoyable things about wine tasting is discovering new varietals and expanding my palate. Lately, I have been really loving some Washington Carmenere. Carmenere is often used as a blending grape, as it adds deep color and spiciness to a red wine. Recently though, Carmenere has been showing up in Washington on it's own; commanding it's own spot front and center on the label.
Characteristics of Carmenere are it's deep dark red color, flavors of cherries, spice and earth. Tannins are usually fairly muted on this medium bodied wine. Here are 3 of my favorite ones from Washington:
Reininger Winery Carmenere - This is the one that started it all for me. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. Dark berry compote finished off with a healthy dose of black pepper that smacks you in the face on the finish. 100% Carmenere from Seven Hills Vineyard.
Trio Vintners Carmenere - The hubby picked this one up last summer while I was slaving away at the Wine Blogger's Conference (Hmmmm...). So I hadn't had a chance to try this until last weekend. Slightly more subtle then the Reininger. An elegant wine, well balanced with smoky, earthy, cherry notes. I served this to a dinner party last week with a beet, grapefruit and chevre salad. It was the hit of the evening! Sad to say, this is sold out at the winery. I am glad I have a bottle left.
Smasne Cellars Carmenere - A few months ago before heading out to dinner we hit up Woodinville for a few winery stops. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Smasne had a Carmenere in their lineup. Sourced from Phinney Hill Vineyards in the Horse Haven Hills, this wine exhibits all the lovely aspects of a great Carmenere. Upfront spice and pepper that smooths into awesome dark fruits. I'm looking forward to cracking this one open with friends. I am also excited to taste the 2008 - Robert Smasne posted a note on his Facebook regarding the 2008 and I can't wait to try it!
I am officially hooked on Carmenere! I know there are more to try and I will always have my radar on for more. What is your favorite Carmenere?