Over the years I have reviewed lots of Chilean reds including many in this $10 column. This is our second review of a wine from the Santa Carolina winery whose vineyards are located in the Rapel Valley. In case you don’t remember this valley stretches about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes mountains. The winery itself was founded in 1875 and a mere two years later they built wine cellars that are still in use. They take unprestigious Carmeniere red grape and make a $100 wine that merited a 92 from the prestigious Wine Spectator. I don’t know whether it’s the $100 or the Carmeniere grape that scares me more. Today’s companion wine is an Israeli Merlot at over twice the price of its Chilean cousin.
Let’s start with the marketing materials. “Tasting Note : Deep brick red colour; Rich, plumy, blackberry fruit aromas and flavors with notes of cedar, earth and spice; Dry medium-bodied with moderate tannins. Serving Suggestion : Beef and pepper stir fry; Roast beef; Lamb.” And now for my review.
At the first sips this wine displayed good power but it was short and slightly sweet and offered light tannins. When paired with crunchy coated Cuban-style peanuts the liquid’s sweetness remained while its acidity went soft. The meal’s centerpiece, a barbecued chicken leg, brought plums to the fore of my glass and the tannins increased. In the face of fried rice the Merlot weakened at first and I tasted some berries. Dessert was a square or two of Praline filled Bitter-Sweet Swiss chocolate, which rendered our Chilean friend upbeat, long, and dark.
The next meal consisted of boxed pancakes made from spinach, potatoes, onions, and spices. In response the libation was rather thin. It was metallic and I tasted plums. When I added generous dollops of 10% yoghurt (none of that 0% stuff for me) the drink’s acidity went up somewhat. Chocolate mints rendered the Santa Carolina minty. Then came fresh blackberries. Now the wine was left with not much else than blackberries.
My final meal also came out of a box. It was a shepherd’s pie. In response the liquid offered lots of plums and some mint. It was dark and oaky. Zesty guacamole shortened and sweetened Red. Generous amounts of Chinese hot sauce on the pie weakened the wine but I did sense some black cherries.
Final verdict. To my mind this wine came up a bit short. But I might try some of their other wines, even a Carmeniere. As for the $100 offering, no way José.Access the companion wine A Dalton Israeli Merlot.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would
rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario
French-language community college. His wine websites include
www.theworldwidewine.com and http://www.wineinyourdiet.com
Visit his website devoted to italian travel www.travelitalytravel.com
Feel free to reprint this entire article which must include the resource box