I was going to do a Pinot Noir this week on the grounds that wine drinkers who aren’t doing dry January might nevertheless want a slightly lighter bodied red after the festive indulgences (or over-indulgences), but the cold weather has got to me and I’ve chosen this darker, fuller, but not heavyweight, Carignan instead.
As a grape variety, Carignan was once as maligned and unfashionable as Pinot Noir is admired and fashionable. I’m pleased to say that there’s now recognition of its potential for quality and character, especially when it comes from low-yielding, unirrigated old vines. In the case of Mancura Guardián, the vines are 40 years old.
The 2020 growing season was difficult in Chile, with frosts and drought (and Covid too), but old Mediterranean varieties such as Carignan coped well with the drought, as do old vines. The vivid ruby red 2020 Mancura isn't quite up there with the outstanding 2018, but it still has lots going for it: cherry perfume, juicy bitter-cherry fruit, earthy bark and fresh bay-leaf notes and hints of mocha and balsam.
It’s a good match for spicy and meaty sausages, black bean and kidney bean stews, including chilli con carne, slow-roast lamb and pork, and roast root vegetables. 14.5%. Empty bottle weight: 407g.
Mancura Guardián Carignan 2020, Valle del Maule, Chile
£11.49 in any 6-bottle mix, £12.99 singly, Laithwaites