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WINE OF THE WEEK: Caliterra Pétreo Carmenere 2020, Colchagua Valley, Chile

£13.45–£14.90, ND John, NY Wines, Hic!, Vinvm, Just in Cases

Ever since the Chileans discovered in the 1990s that almost all their extensive ‘Merlot’ vineyards were planted not with Merlot but with Carmenere, they’ve been learning to love this old Bordeaux grape variety (they don’t use the accent on Carmenère in Chile, by the way).

Until recently, most of the Carmeneres were made in a ripe, black-fruit style bulked up with lots of smooth, chocolaty oak, all done in an attempt to dampen down the inherent and often polarising herbal character of Carmenère.

But in the last few years, some winemakers have taken a new direction. Rather than try to mask the distinctive, fresh green note, they’ve embraced it, building it into a juicier, more lifted, red-fruit style that expresses both varietal character and terroir more keenly and authentically.

Caliterra was one of the early ones with the first vintage of its Pétreo Carmenere in 2016. It comes from the rocky, granitic soils of the estate’s highest and coolest vineyards, which lie 60k from the coast about 200k south of Santiago in the heart of the Colchagua Valley.

In the 2020, succulent red-berry fruit, spicy bay leaf, fresh green pepper and graphite notes give airy purity and depth of flavour underpinned by fine tannins. The lightest touch of oak comes from fermentation and then 18 months’ ageing in second and third-use barrels.

It's a wine that goes well with meat, especially lamb (everything from seared pink cutlets to slow-baked shanks, moussaka to lamb sinaya), and it also goes well with vegetable dishes ranging from ratatouille to roast vegetables, red pepper and mushroom lasagne to vegetable gratins. 13%.

Caliterra Pétreo Carmenere 2020, Colchagua Valley, Chile

£13.45 ND John; £14.50, NY Wines; £14.50 Hic!; £14.90, Vinvm; £89.40 for 6, Just in Cases


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