Is someone who counts the number of grape varietals in wines considered a “wine geek”?

Probably – though I don’t know the different varietals I have tasted in wines, I do enjoy exploring wines with new grapes.

 I recently drank a Chilean red wine which was 100% Carménère (pronounced car-men-air). My previous experience drinking Carménère was blends with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. As matter of fact, many years ago it was the 6th grape in the famous Bordeaux blend.  But the Phylloxera disease that spread through vineyards in late 19th century, wiped out Bordeaux vineyards and Carménère was never replanted in France. Fortunately, the varietal found its way to South America, and today Chile grows 80% of the world’s Carménère.

The vines resemble Merlot and for many years Chilean growers did not recognize the difference. Further study revealed Cabernet Franc is the parent of Carménère.

– Notice similarity between two varietals, years went by in Chile thinking vines were Merlot. Image by WineFolly

Carménère’s has lower acidity and softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon which makes it a good pairing with lower fat meats such as pork, lamb, grilled chicken or beef stew. Considered a medium-body wine it is also a good option with fish.

Ungrafted Carménère 2021
Maipo Valley, Chile
Vinous Media 92 ratings says “The 2021 Carménère Ungrafted Gravel Soils is mixed with 15% Cabernet Franc, aged 12 months in used barrels. Purple in color with aromas of plum, faint floral and cherry notes, ash and herbs. Terse and juicy in the mouth with lively freshness and refined, polished tannins, this is an enjoyable, easy going wine.”

Cheers, Bob the WineGuy
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