Casa Silva, Pintao Reserva Carmenere 2012, Chile
The Carmenere story is a fascinating one. It's one of the minor grapes traditionally used to make the red wines of Bordeaux along with Merlot, Caberenet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a small group of minor grapes. But Carmenere was more or less extinct - lost in the mists of time with little or none in commercial use in the famous French wine appellation. But then Chile discovered that a grape it had been growing and bottling as Merlot, turned out not to be Merlot but Carmenere - and it was the grape used in many wines regarded as Chile's best. Since then, not only has Chile investigated, re-classified, and now proudly claimed as its own the Carmenere grape, but it has led to a revival back in Bordeaux too.
Sourced from Casa Silva's vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, this wine was made with input from M&S's in-house winemakers. Around 60% of the blend spent six months in French oak barrels. The truth is that for all the romance of the story, some Carmeneres can have a stalky, green, herbaceous character that, if overdone, is not my favourite thing in a red wine. But the best are delightful and, as in this wine, exhibit a controlled touch of sappy, green pepper edge much like a good Cabernet Franc that is a delightful component. This also has plenty of black fruit and a touch of graphite, spice and earth. In the mouth it is medium-bodied and very well balanced, that graphite and spice dusted across ripe blackcurrant fruit, giving this grip with the touch of herbal quality also giving edge and energy. A very nice example of the grape in civilised and savoury mode. Watch the video for much more information, including food matching suggestions. £9.99, in 289 Marks & Spencer stores.