Casillero del Diablo 2013 Carmenere Reserva

Black currants, plums, rose, grapefruit, cherry. Sounds like a fruit salad but these are also descriptors commonly associated with particular grape varieties. Currants with Cabernet Sauvignon, plums with Merlot, roses with the difficult to pronounce Gewurztraminer, grapefruit with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and cherries with Sangiovese (Chianti) or cold climate Pinot Noir. I’ve learned to associate these aromas or flavours with each variety.

There is one descriptor however that has always alluded me. It isn’t really pleasant but rather pungent and often a turn off for drinkers. Bell peppers. I’ve read about it in tasting descriptions and heard people talk about it while tasting but never experienced it myself. Why would I want to learn to find this? I have come to the point in my wine drinking career that I like the weird and unusual. I want to find these odd aromas and flavours because it makes a wine interesting and complex. This doesn’t make wines more drinkable to me but makes them more engaging.

When I found out Chilean Carmenere is suppose to be chock full of it I figured this was my chance to finally learn the aroma. I’ve had a few other Carmenere before but this was the one most expressing this vegetal character.

Look: This wine is a dense violet red in the glass with thick narrow legs.

Smell: I drank this wine over two nights and on the first it was overpoweringly vegetal, smelling very green. From afar the wine smelled fruity, but right up to the nose it was quite herbaceous and earthy. Think unripe anything. Or leafy. I realized this was what I was looking for. Not very pleasant indeed but definitely bell pepper. The second night the vegetal aromas were subdued and the aromas were much more balanced. There is some black berry fruits but the savoury really comes through. There is also some oak characteristic with burnt toast and smoke.

Taste: In the mouth it is medium to full bodied with bitter tannins and high acidity. As with the nose, the first night it had quite a bitter taste. Second night was definitely better with balance between the bitterness and fruit. Dark fruit again and a earth or dirt like minerality. The finish is long, earthy, and aggressively dry, puckering the mouth.

Conclusion: I set out to find bell pepper and surely found it. In the aroma and flavour. Does this mean there is something wrong with this wine? Not necessarily. It could simply be the grapes were unripe when harvested and another vintage (year) might be better. I give it a 7.5+/10 because despite its green bitterness it is not a bad wine if decanted for several hours. This wine would go very well with a meaty meal, barbecued steak or kebobs perhaps. Meat helps to take the edge off the bitterness.

  • Carmenere
  • Valle Central, Chile
  • 2013 – 13.5% ABV
  • Casillero del Diablo, Concha Y Toro
  • $15.75
  • Screw cap

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