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WINE OF THE WEEK: Finest Peumo Carmenère 2020, Peumo, Valle del Cachapoal, Chile

£8, Tesco

This has to be one of the best value wines in the UK. When I last recommended it here, I thought it was good value at £9 and that was the 2017 vintage four years ago.

Since then the blend has changed slightly – the Cabernet Sauvignon component has gone down from 14% to five per cent – but there's been no easing up on quality, making this 2020 amazing value at a £1 less.

That's the combined buying power for you of Concha y Toro, the giant Chilean producer, and the UK's supermarket giant, Tesco – the sort of power, of course, that makes small producers and independent merchants wince.

A bit of background on Carmenère, because it's a red grape variety with an interesting history. It's an old Bordeaux variety that was widespread in and around the region until phylloxera wiped out the vineyards at the end of the 19th century.

When they were replanted, Carmenère barely featured, but by then it was well established in Chile, where it does well, especially in the warmth of Peumo, in the Cachapoal valley about 130km south of Santiago.

The odd thing is that for most of the 20th century Carmenère was thriving in Chile under a false identity: it was called Merlot. With hindsight it's not clear how it could be mistaken for so long when it ripens about a month later than Merlot.

In terms of taste, it can be a divisive grape variety because of its green, leafy, herbal character. But when the greenness is offset, as here, by ripe blackberry and plum fruit, dark chocolate, smoke, soy, coffee-bean flavours and just the right amount of oak – in this case, 10 months in French and American barrels – you end up with a generous, smooth, buoyant wine.

It goes well with roast, grilled and barbecued lamb, pork and duck, spicy and meaty sausages, tagines with dried fruit, ratatouille, caponata, stuffed peppers and roast, spiced squashes. 14%. Empty bottle weight: 398g.

Tesco Finest Peumo Carmenere 2020, Peumo, Valle del Cachapoal, Chile

£8, Tesco


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