Although Carmen is best known for Carmenère, the estate’s small production of Gran Reserva Petite Sirah often steals the show, garnering terrific press before disappearing quickly into the hands of savvy wine lovers. We hesitate to feature Carmen’s latest release of Petite Sirah for fear that it will make it even harder to come by in the future. Frankly, Carmen’s 2013 Gran Reserva may offer the finest quality and value today in Petite Sirah. The 2013 Gran Reserva provides the grape’s bold purple color and entrancing aromatics, which begin with deep draughts of black cherry, raspberry and plum coupled with tantalizing touches of spice and vanilla. And that’s just the wine’s opening act. Carmen’s 2013 Gran Reserva Petite Sirah follows through on the palate with an explosive mix of ripe berries, black fruits, and dark chocolate all wrapped in a patina of smooth new oak infused with hints of pepper. “Bold and beautiful” is how we like to describe Carmen’s Gran Reserva Petite Sirah, yet the wine never loses its balanced composure. Well-integrated fruit and tannins play off each other, nearly hiding the wine’s 14.5% alcohol and allowing the throat to quickly beg for more. We suggest you afford Carmen’s beloved Petite Sirah 20-30 minutes of aeration before serving at cool room temperature (60°-64° F). Enjoy!
Petite Sirah has long been a favorite of Italian immigrant families who migrated to North and South America. And with good reason: the grape’s bold aromatics, hearty flavors and high alcohol pair beautifully with spicy tomato sauces and highly charged Mediterranean dishes. Consequently, game, thick meaty cassoulets, herb roasted leg of lamb, and a dish called Penne a la Siciliana (penne pasta in a very thick fresh tomato sauce, with roasted garlic, eggplant, and herbs) are just a few of our favorite dishes to serve with Carmen’s 2013 Gran Reserva Petite Sirah. Grilled hot Italian sausage, lasagna, and Neapolitan style Eggplant Parmigiana all make wonderful companions to Carmen’s full throttle Petite Sirah, too. Steak, burgers, short ribs, pork barbecue, brick oven meat or vegetarian pizzas, and flavorful cheeses also provide outstanding accompaniments. Idiazábal, a robust Basque cheese; aged Cheddar; and Double Gloucester are just a few of the flavorful cheeses you may want to pair with the 2013 Carmen Gran Reserva Petite Sirah, while some among us may just want to sit and sip this deep, dark, bold-flavored potion. Why not? Buen Provecho!
Carmen is Chile’s oldest wine brand, dating back to 1850. A century and a half ago Christian Lanz founded Viña Carmen and lovingly named the estate’s beautiful vineyards for his wife. Today, Viña Carmen remains the showpiece Lanz envisioned more than a century and half ago and a pioneer in sustainable agriculture. Combining tradition, superb vineyards and a state of the art winery that was constructed in 1992, Viña Carmen is currently South America’s leading winery as well as its oldest. In the 1990s, winemaker Alvaro Espinoza, a proponent of organic viticulture, moved Carmen to the forefront of South American producers and brought international renown to this venerable property, a position it retains today under the current regime. Wine & Spirits magazine has named Carmen “Top Winery of the Year” at least four times and current offerings continue to be some of the finest this esteemed winery has produced to date.
Although located in Maipo Valley, Chile’s most fashionable wine address, Carmen’s vineyards spread across several valleys and include 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 been extremely successful with French varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, and Petite Sirah. Recent releases of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have been exceptional as well.
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