Viña Von Siebenthal Carmenère Gran Réserva 2019, a lovely blend of 85% Carmenère and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, smells divine – intense ripe, sweet black fruits like blackberries, blackcurrants and plums with smoky spice and chocolate notes. On the palate the wine is just as you expect from the aromas, concentrated flavours of those lush black fruits and blueberries with cedary and spicy notes – smoky paprika comes to mind – plus dark chocolate and eucalyptus. The 2019 vintage saw intense heat and drought in Chile and yields were down even further than usual at Von Siebenthal. Whilst this meant fewer grapes, those that remained added really concentrated aromas and flavours to the wine. Nevertheless you may need to swirl your glass or slurp some air in when tasting the wine to encourage all those aromas and flavours to unfold. Despite all that rich fruit and the spicy notes, I categorise Von Siebenthal Carmenère 2019 as a smooth, elegant red wine, more medium- than full-bodied like a lighter style of Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol is much lower in this 2019 vintage despite the heat and good acidity was retained to keep the wine fresh.
The Carmenère grape is most frequently seen in wines from Chile (and to a lesser degree from Italy) but it actually originates from Bordeaux though only a little is grown there now. It was recently found to be directly related to Cabernet Franc and indirectly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Carmenère is used for its perfume and flavour and generally needs a relatively hot climate to ripen sufficiently; the Aconcagua Valley benefits from long dry autumns with little or no rain or hail. In this Viña Von Siebenthal Carmenère Gran Réserva 2019, produced organically in a single vineyard, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon has been added to provide acidity and structure. You can find out more about this grape and its wines in my Carmenère blogpost.
Viña von Siebenthal, whose fruity Carabantes I also stock, has its four main vineyards in the historical wine-growing area of Panquehue, a small sub-appellation of the Aconcagua Valley in Chile between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. The semi desert conditions bring lots of sunshine and mean that vine diseases are rare. The vines are cultivated using organic farming principles and the yields are reduced to intensify the aroma of the grapes.