By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor


Carmenere on Long Island? Yes, really.

This is Long Island's first carmenere, and as far as I know, the only carmenere being made on the East Coast (thought it seems like it might do well in Virginia, so maybe there is some there too.)

I've had several carmeneres from Chile, enjoying the relatively few elegant ones that don't have huge extract, but I admittedly know very little about the grape.

According to Wikipedia:

Carménère grape is a wine grape
variety originally planted in the Médoc
region of Bordeaux, France,
where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending
purposes in the same manner as Petit

A member of the Cabernet family of grapes,
the name "Carménère" originates from the French word for crimson (
which refers to the brilliant crimson colour of the autumn foliage
prior to leaf-fall.
The grape is also known as
Grande Vidure, a historic
Bordeaux synonym,
although current European Union regulations prohibit Chilean imports under this name into the
European Union. Along with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Malbec
and Petit verdot, Carménère is considered
part of the original six red grapes of Bordeaux, France.

Now rarely found in France, the world's largest area planted with
this variety is in Chile in South
America, with more than 4,000 hectares
(2006) cultivated in the Central Valley. As such, Chile
produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today and as the
Chilean wine industry grows, more experimentation is being carried out
on Carménère's potential as a blending grape, especially with Cabernet

Given the success growers and winemakers have had with the other Bordeaux varieties (even cabernet sauvignon planted in the right places in the right years) it's maybe a bit surprising that this is the first carmenere here, but before I tasted it, I still wondered if they'd be able to ripen this grape fully to minimize the bell pepper flavors that can come from under-ripe grapes (sound familiar?).

Maybe they have it planted in a spot in their vineyard where reds ripen particularly well, or maybe it's just because this wine came from the hot, dry 2007 season, but this wine shows none of that green pepper character. In fact, this wine almost seems overripe in some of it's aromas and flavors.

Ripe, almost port-like aromas of dried cherry, fig and sweet red cherry are layered with those of Chinese five spice, cedar and green peppercorns.

Juicy on the palate with medium-soft tannins, rich cherry fruit, more five spice, toasty oak and clove mingle with a bit of smoke and sweet herbs. The dried fruit and fig character comes back on a medium finish.

A fine first effort, I'm curious to taste the 2008 and 2009 editions of this. I'm curious how the grape does in cooler, more typical growing seasons. 

This wine is scheduled to be released today in the tasting room, but I haven't been able to track down how much they are selling it for.

Producer: Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards
ABV: 12%

Price: NA*

(Ratings Guide)