September 14, 2008

Arboleda Carmenère

Bill Dowd photo

This rich, lush wine comes from Arboleda, a Chilean boutique winery located in the Colchagua Valley 125 miles south of Santiago, the national capital. It is 100% carmenère, the country's major grape.

Arboleda Carmenère 2006

This mid-May '06 vintage was an excellent one and this particular wine is a prime example of it.

It is a big, deep-violet wine, 14.5% alcohol by volume, that begins with a pleasing assault on the nose of tobacco, cinnamon and black tea.

That complexity continues on the palate with notes of cocoa and stone fruits -- plum, black cherry and the like -- and berries plus just a touch of sweetness. Touches of cedar and vanilla imparted by the cask aging also can be discerned, and the long finish develops into a drier level of the tobacco and unsweetened chocolate.

I matched it with a pork tenderloin roasted in a honey-mustard sauce, sided with brown rice, steamed cauliflower, and a cold, bitey side dish of diced tomatoes, cucumbers and jalapeños marinated overnight in herbs and rice wine vinegar. The wine both stood up to and complemented each dish.

Suggested retail price: $16 for the 750ml bottle.

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