The world has spent a lot of time lavishing praise on the wines of Argentina and particularly the Mendoza Valley.

But across the South American continent is Chile with its Colchagua Valley. There are great Cabernets, Syrah and many other wines making their way around the world from this long narrow country on the continent’s west coast.

More and more Carmenere has become Chile’s calling card. Like so many grapes which have become great wine varietals, Carmenere comes from the Medoc area of Bordeaux. It was used as a blending grape and much like Argentinian Malbe it’s now scarce in France and flourishing south of the border.

The largest concentration of Carmenere is in South America. Tonight I opened a 2005 bottle of Casa Sliva Carmenere Reserve. I paid a tidy $14.99 at West Lafayette’s Village Bottle Shoppe.

This wine had a mild but fruity taste with low acidity but enough tannin to give you a mouthful of texture.

Casa Silva was founded in the late 1800s by French wine icon Emilio Bouchon. Today the Silva family is in its fifth generation as wine makers. Many of their vineyards are nearly 100 years old, brought over from France.

Silva has been widely recognized in Chile as the country’s best Carmenere producer.

Most Carmenere can be found from $7 and up. While I paid a reasonable $15 for the Silva Reserve Carmenere, I did see the same wine pushing $20 on various web sites. The critics seem to like the Silva wine. Guru Robert Parker gave this specific vintage 90 points in Wine Advocate.

This was a nice bottle of wine and if you see Casa Silva wines I’d definitely recommend giving them a try. I have had a good bit of Carmenere and frankly I have a hard time describing it. It’s pleasant, and easy to drink – but I can’t put a finger on the fruit from this wine for some reason. And it often needs a little oxygen before the taste really becomes enjoyable – at least for me.

But I think it’s a great value wine you should try. Many wine shops will have a Carmenere or two or four. If you’re always on the hunt for a good value wine you won’t go wrong with Casa Silva or a Chilean Carmenere by any of the country’s Colchagua Valley producers!

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