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2012 Root 1 Carmenere

December 11, 2014 - Norman Bentley

I have got a Christmas present for you. I rarely rave about wines, or talk about my favorites very much, but I have admitted in the past that I really favor Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. But today I am going to give you the best piece of advice ever. If you want to enjoy a wonderful bottle of red regularly for around ten dollars a bottle, it ain't from California, it is from Chile. I have written about the Root 1 Carmenere numerous times in the past, and it has been my "go to" everyday red for years. We just enjoyed a bottle of the 2012 vintage recently and it may be the best one yet. However, before I describe it, here are a couple of excerpts from previous articles I have written about Root 1.

2009 Root 1 Carmenere

I really love spaghetti, and at our house that may mean many different styles and sauces. The traditional Marinara with meat is my favorite, and we usually open a bottle of Chianti. The other night however, we chose the 2009 Root One Carmenere from Chile to pair with our spaghetti dinner. We have enjoyed several vintages of this wine in the past, including a few which I have written about.

Carmenere is the "Lost Grape of Bordeaux", which was wiped out in France in the 1880's due to Phylloxera, and was thought lost to the world. Originally grown in the Medoc of France, cuttings had been taken to Chile in the mid 1800's and were growing along with Merlot, and thought to be a Merlot clone. A few decades ago the grape was re-identified in Chile as Carmenere rather than a strain of Merlot. Since then its popularity has continued to grow around the world.

This wine is a dark purplish red, with a heady nose and a solid backbone. The flavors suggest spice and plum, but are dominated with an intense blackberry presence which is absolutely delightful! The wine finishes strong with a peppery nuance sailing into mild vanilla flavored tannins. It is 90% Carmenere, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah, and it comes in at 14% alcohol. This Carmenere was aged for ten months in a combination of French and American oak.

This wonderful bottle of wine could easily pass for a thirty dollar Bordeaux, and compliments almost any spicy meat or pasta dish.

Norm's score is 89

2011 Root1 Carmenere

Root One Carmenere has been a house favorite for several years now, and 2011 will be at least the fourth one which I have sampled. I think of Carmenere as an in-between flavor, possessing the best of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The "lost grape of Bordeaux" seems to have captured fans from both of those two more famous grape varieties. It is rapidly achieving the status in Chile, which Malbec has already claimed in Argentina. If you really enjoy red wines, and have not as yet sampled a Carmenere, then you are in for a treat.

The 2011 Root One Carmenere has a nose which leaps out of the bottle as soon as the cork is released. The aromas of dark fruit and summer blackberry vines are prevalent. The flavor is just as powerful, with big gobs of fruit suggesting blackberry and plum, with gentle under currents of vanilla and spice. The finish is long and lingering and begs for another sip! The alcohol content is 13.5%

We enjoyed the Root One with a big thick fillet from the grill, combined with a big salad containing everything from the garden, and a hot baked potato. This is also a great wine for lasagna and other rich sauced pasta dishes.

Norm's score is 88.

2012 Root 1 Carmenere

The color is a most beautiful inky shade of purple, and when you open the wine, the aroma leaps out of the bottle and grabs you by the nose and won't let go, filling the room with the essence of blackberry jam, and Brer Rabbit's briar patch. And speaking of jam, the flavors abound with a thick jammy character smacking of blackberry and dark cherry, with a hint of black currant. The finish is spicy with a bit of pepper, and just a touch of the earthy note which lingers until the next sip. The wine is good in complexity as well as character, and is in perfect balance between the fruit and the acidity. The alcohol content is 13.5%. Unlike previous vintages, this one is a blend of 85% Carmenere and 15% Syrah. The Syrah may account for the slight earthy quality.

We enjoyed this Root 1 with a thick grilled pork loin chop, marinated in a lemon pepper sauce, and served with new potatoes, and a tomato and avocado salad, but as I have said before, it would be great with just about anything you want to serve with red wine.

Norm's score is 92.

score: 92

price: $10 - $14


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