Advantages Tastes more expensive than it is; fair-traded wine.
Disadvantages If you all rush to the Co-op at once -leave some for me!
Now, let’s get one thing straight from the start – I’m not pretending to be a connoisseur. Yes, I’ve probably drunk (and been drunk) more than my fair share in my time, but my criteria for sampling a new wine tend to be “Anything under a fiver, over 13% alcohol”.So, I’m not going to come over all Jilly Goolden on you. You’ve got to admire her, though, even if you think she’s as mad as a bucket of frogs, and talks b****cks – the woman can distinguish the taste of “saddle leather” in a wine!
I normally have only two distinguishing comments about red wine: -“It’s fruity, smooth and easy to drink”, or “Bleurgh, that tastes like vinegar”,
and this wine DEFINITELY falls into the first category.If you need more reasons than that to buy it, please read on.
THE BACKGROUND: (Sensible bit! ~feel free to skip this~ but it is quite interesting!)
I first tried Chilean red wine about two years ago, (and this particular wine six months ago), after a throwaway comment by my uncle Bernard, from “Dahn Sahf”, who fancies himself as a bit of a wine buff. “You can’t go wrong with a Chilean red”, he said, and after extensive research in the field…. the pub, the Co-op, and behind the local offy… I’ve come to the conclusion that he was right.
Apparently, although other some countries have begun to grow this variety again,
“…the full-bodied, spicy and smooth wines from Chile have set the standard for modern Carmenère.”
(And if anyone would like to sponsor me, with no thought to the inconvenience I’ll personally travel all the way there, possibly taking in France, Spain, Italy and Australia on the way, just to verify this fact. What can I say? - I’m generous!)
This wine was launched in 2001 as the first fair-trade supermarket wine. The Co-operative Group and Traidcraft work in conjunction to help small third world businesses compete internationally, to increase awareness, and to make more fairly traded goods available in the UK.
The Vinos Los Robles vineyard it comes from is run as a co-op in the Curico valley, 200 km south of Santiago. This means that because the co-op also processes the grapes it buys, the farmers get the extra money from wine sales, as well as the price they receive for the grapes.
In the last couple of years re-investment has meant that wine quality has improved dramatically; equipment has been updated and workers now have access to improved living and working conditions. Good news for everyone concerned!
Even after my not inconsiderable experience, I still don’t get what the experts mean by such pronouncements as,
" A touch of spicy yoghurt to the fruit as it descends is only the last act of a drama which is fruity, entertainingly layered and ripe, and very involving.” Malcolm Gluck,
(author of several books on wine including best selling ''Superplonk''. Incidentally he gave this wine 15.5 out of 20)
So here in layman’s terms and for the less discerning palates amongst us, is my interpretation of the taste of this “Cheeky Chilean”. (Stop that! Stop it right now!!)CO-OP SAYS: ““Co-op Fair Trade Chilean Carmenère is blackberry coloured with an intense nose of damsons and plums. Blackcurrant and mint dominate its flavours, which combined with the wine's soft texture, make it a great companion to roast poultry, stuffed peppers or mature cheddar cheese”
I SAY: Try as I might, (and I have really tried –hic!) I cannot taste the mint in this wine. To me it smells more like raisins than blackcurrants and tastes of ripe fruit with a hint of mixed spice ~ a bit like a good booze-soaked fruit cake. Anyway, it’s very fruity and smooth, with not much acidity (I think that’s what’s meant by soft texture). It’s all too easy to drink, and goes down very easily (ahem!)
I have seen wines from this grape variety described as tasting of chocolate ~ you may be able to, but I can’t taste that in it, though I’m prepared to keep researching.
I would drink this with almost anything not too creamy or delicately flavoured ~ but what do I know?
So, if you risk the £4.99, buy this, and enjoy it, please: -
a) let me know via my guest book,
b) feel good about yourself ‘cos you’re helping thousands of people in a developing country, and
c) raise a glass to my Uncle Bernard –he probably knows a thing or two about wine.
OK, I’ll shut up now. That’s an awful lot of waffle for such a relatively inexpensive wine.
Cheers. And thanks for reading if you made it this far!
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