Rita of Cascia and Carmenere – Strange Bedfellows

26 May

As I finish this post, this was playing on my playlist. Rock On!

I’ve carefully watched the ‘successful’ wine bloggers and they tend to talk about what they’re drinking in the moment, weekly or monthly. I have foregone that until now in an attempt to avoid an intervention. And, if you read my post on swallowing, you might posit that I overindulge. You might be right. But, I’ll leave that for another ramble. So, I’ll wade into the two bottles I opened on the weekend. I didn’t finish them both in one sitting, BTW – just opening two for your benefit.

I realize that although I may purchase and quaff carmenère all the time, many of you have difficulty accessing good carmenère, haven’t tried regardless, or seem to usually gravitate to other varietals. It’s too bad really that carmenère is an afterthought purchase. It shows its best when from Chile where it was believed to be merlot for many years. Wine aficionado Grissom from CSI – Las Vegas completed a DNA analysis which took all of a commercial break and determined that what was previously thought to be merlot was, in fact, carmenère – the sixth of the Bordeaux grapes (others being cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc). What a nice surprise. The grape usually makes a solid, full-bodied wine and, in this jurisdiction, is priced very reasonably. On to the wines.

photoI purchased the 2011 Valle Secreto First Edition Carmenere #371153 $18.95 because I hadn’t seen it before, being a ‘first edition’ and all. And, it had a nifty gold sticker on the bottle that said something about winning an award. Bonus. I was intrigued by the ‘first edition’ moniker. What are they going to call next vintage? Going out on a limb here, but Im betting that they don’t have a second but fold this into their “Private” bottling. The winery web site says, “First Edition, as indicated by its name, is the first wine ever produced by Valle Secreto, its first edition, its first secret.” Cool. Still the issue for next year. This is a smallish boutique winery with limited production, it seems. The wine was dark, somewhere between full-blown purple with ruby red hiding in there somewhere. Medium to full-bodied with a nice balance between the acid and the fruit. There was a spice present along with a greenness on the finish that wasn’t at all off putting like it can be sometimes. All in all, a solid carmenère worth a look see. Great with food (not too heavy) but I had it sitting in a chair with music (Fleetwood Mac, as it happens) blaring and without food.

medalla real carmenereThe other carmenère comes from a regular at the mother ship, Santa Rita. This is going from small to very large on the winery scale. Santa Rita has vineyards in all the major wine growing regions of Chile. You can find their stuff in Vintages’ as well as General Listing aisles. But, who was Santa Rita? Well, welcome to Wikipedia. She was Santa Rita of Cascia, an Augustinian nun who became known as the patron saint for abused women and heartbroken women. As a nun, she was known for practicing “mortification of the flesh.” OK, not sure we need to go any further. Santa Rita, in the case of the winery might mean something else entirely, guaranteed. But, mortification of the flesh sounds intriguing. Well, this wine – 2009 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Carmenère #274118 $17.95 didn’t mortify me. I have it as a full-bodied, dark purple, jammy wine. It had evidence of oak both on the nose and the finish – some vanillaish stuff. Interesting floral – I’d say violets but can’t quite remember what violets smell like despite my back lawn being infested with the buggers. This wine also had a green component that reminded me of a Niagara red varietal  in cooler years– my best attempt would be celery. But, then again my notes are pretty cryptic as is my mind. I think that despite this being the heavier of the two, it could be a cocktail party wine which, if served, would make it a wine party. Interesting because the other wine is less full-bodied but I think that the increased acidity in the “first edition” makes it more suitable for food.

Both of these wines are good value, crowd pleasing type wines. Keep your eye out for them.

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