Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chilean Merlot - while I still can! (by Kris, not Nate) :-)

Upon much prodding from Nate, I have decided to chime in and add my 2-cents for a wine blog here and there. It seems only appropriate that I start with my latest fascination, Chilean merlots! As June progresses and the summer continues to heat up, I relish the nights where it cools down below 70 degrees and I can still sneak in a glass of red wine (or two!). Nate and I have discovered the fantastic flavors and values of Chilean merlots and have been enjoying trying different bottles, to find a favorite.

We have somewhat recently adopted the Carmen merlot as our "house red" which we buy by the case and keep around for everyday drinking, a great second bottle, or just a guilt-free open. At only $6, this merlot is fantastic, (and has a high QPR, as Nate would say). :-) If we haven't written it up already, we should and will... However, recently we decided to experiment and see what a few more dollars would buy you from Chile.

Tonight's bottle is a 2005, Santa Rita Reserva Merlot from the Maipo Valley. The aromas are fairly intense, dark berries, currant (I have a story about that in a second) and distinct tones of vanilla. On the palate it is bursting with fruit, but is immediately balanced by the tannins and a hint of spice. I think this could be a red that could please both the "big-fruity" people as well as those liking their tannins and a bit more complexity. It's very enjoyable just sipping, but also went well with a polenta-veggie-lasagna I made tonight. What this Santa Rita has taught me is that while it is good to have a safe, $6 house read wine, when you want a treat, you don't have to splurge much more to get a large, lush and tasty merlot. This bottle cost $11 and I would definitely buy again when I want something a bit more special.

Now, since Nate always goes on tangents, I feel as though I need to follow suit....about currants: I had always seen wine described as having aromas or flavors of currant, but never had seen nor had a currant - we discussed whether this was an "old world" fruit that no longer is relevant as a wine descriptor today.... But, not more than a couple days later, while shopping at Trader Joe's, we happened upon a bag of dried currants and had to try it! To eat our words, (somewhat literally), we popped open the bag and tried our first currents! The flavor is intense, much like I would imagine a dried blackberry, mixed with a blueberry, and maybe a cherry too. Its tart, but also sweet, and definitely a flavor I have had in wine before. I really do think there is currant in the Santa Rita, although I admit to being a bit eager to find it in a wine - I guess I'll just need to eat a few more, and sip a bit more to be sure!

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