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Structured like a classified Bordeaux, the 1999 Carmen Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is full of delicious red and black fruits and suave spice tones that lend a decadent air to this hedonistic delight. Yet, this Carmen offering’s best is yet to come. With a little more bottle age or sufficient airing, the layer of ripe tannin will peel away, revealing all the secondary characteristics that make this wine so tasty: coffee, berry, chocolate and bacon fat – the flavors the Bordelais refer to as “gras” or fat in fine red claret. Bottled unfiltered, the Carmen Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is highly extracted yet, beautifully balanced in a medium format. If you choose to serve the wine now in its youth, we suggest you open it a couple of hours ahead and pour it carefully into a decanter, allowing any sediment to remain in the bottle. Any harmless sediment the wine may throw only underscores its natural treatment and lack of filtration. Enjoy!
Like all great Merlot and Cabernet-based wines, the 1999 Carmen Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon is best when the candles scutter, subdued light glints upon crystal glasses and the best your kitchen has to offer comes to table. Fine holiday fare, especially beef tenderloin, filet mignon, or Beef Wellington provide ideal accompaniments to this Carmen Reserve. Heartier, less defined fare may well be as pleasing but the supreme elegance and breed of the Carmen Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon begs for simple elegance to highlight the wine as well as the food. Cabernet or Port wine reductions, even fruit glazes containing blackberry or raspberry provide wonderful sauces for red meat or fowl to accompany this wine. So, if beef is not in your diet, a well-prepared duck with a blackberry sauce will provide another winning combination with the Carmen Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Enjoy!
Carmen is Chile’s oldest wine brand, dating back to 1850. A century and a half ago Christian Lanz founded Vina Carmen and lovingly named the estate’s beautiful vineyards for his wife. Today, Vina Carmen remains the showpiece Lanz envisioned. Combining tradition, superb vineyards and a new state of the art winery constructed in 1992, Vina Carmen is now South America’s leading winery as well as its oldest. Under winemakers Alvaro Espinoza and Matias Lecaros, Carmen has for the past four years (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) been named “Top Winery of the Year” by Wine & Spirits magazine. Presently, the more than 500 acres of Carmen Vineyards spread across several valleys and many micro-climates surrounding Chile’s capital, Santiago. This constellation of microclimates allows Carmen to select the best grape varieties for each area and to excel with many different grapes and styles of wine. The winery has also been extremely successful in experimenting with unique, lesser known varietals, including Chile’s own “indigenous” variety, Carmenere. This variety is believed to have originated in Bordeaux, where it was known as Grande Vidure. Sadly, it disappeared in Bordeaux with the advent of phyloxera. Carmenere was certainly exported to Chile before phyloxera more than a century ago, where it grew inconspicuously among the Merlot, until being identified as a distinct varietal. Internationally renowned winemaker, Alvaro Espinoza, joined Carmen in 1993 and for the past eight years has been augmenting his reputation by producing many of South America’s most compelling wines at the estate. Alvaro, known both as a winemaker and a wine grower, has also instituted organic farming at Carmen. Beginning the endeavor with a 50-acre vineyard for Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay for the winery’s luxury “Nativa” label, Carmen’s mission each year is to increase the vineyard parcels grown under environmental sustainable standards. Using organic methods, the winery reduces the impact upon nature as much as possible and produces increasingly more interesting wines. Presently, Carmen uses no pesticides in their vineyards and is leading the way in Chile toward more environmentally sensitive viticulture. In order to insure that Carmen’s future will remain as bright as it’s past, Carmen has hired the articulate and energetic Matias Lecaros as winemaker. Matias belongs to a traditional Chilean family that has been involved in agriculture and winegrowing since the 17th century. His father’s family is originally from Ponguehue where they pioneered the plantation of vineyards in the Aconcaqua Valley. Matias joined Carmen in 2000 after graduating with a degree in Oenology from the University of Chile in 1996. He then worked as head winemaker for Santa Rita and, subsequently, acted as a consulting oenologist for several wineries in the south of France. He brings with him the ability and experience to continue Carmen’s tradition of producing some of the best wines on the continent. In addition to the great Carmenere or Grand Vidure, Carmen, specializes in all of the major Bordeaux varietals, producing excellent reds from Cabernet Sauvignon, Grand Vidure and Merlot and in whites the best Sauvignon Blanc south of the equator. Recently, both the regular and reserve bottlings of Chardonnay have also been formidable offerings, demonstrating Carmen’s acumen and Chile’s ability to produce world-class whites, as well as reds. Initial releases of Pinot Noir have also garnered serious acclaim and bode well for this thin-skinned varietal in the cooler coastal vineyards that Carmen maintains at high altitudes. We have only one regret in bringing you the wines of Vina Carmen and that is that we cannot feature all of them at the same time or even concurrently. To do so would require a year or more of continuous Carmen offerings, each as wonderful and unique as the next, but sadly, they would be to the detriment of other fine producers the world over.
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