Chile, Argentina and others in South America are producing some outstanding varietal red wines and red wine blends. I love Malbec and Bonarda from south of the border but I’m still developing a taste for Carmenere.

I popped open Falernia 2007 Reserva Carmenere the other night and it had that dark purplish color the grape is known for and a pleasant nose.

I liked the rich dark fruit and thought it was pretty smooth wine until I got to the finish. Then, someone lit a match! The alcohol seemed way too pronounced against the dark fruit flavors. I went searching for the bottle to find the wine comes in at 15 percent alcohol. For me and this grape, that’s a bit hot.

The grapes come from Chile’s Elqui Valley and the Vicuna area. It sees about a half year in oak. It’s a decent value at $15. The acid was still pretty strong 24 hours after opening.

The wine has a nice mouth feel until you get to that finish. Carmenere is a great grape for wine exploration. It’s usually very affordable, a bigger wine, but with a nice big fruit component. The alcohol in this one will scare some people off. Nevertheless, it’s a good value and a decent introduction to Carmenere. This arrived as a trade sample with another Carmenere, I’ll be anxious to try the other!

(Falernia 2007 Reserva Carmenere, SRP $15, Trade Sample, No Recommendation)

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