Wine of the Week: MontGras Reserva Carmenere

Wine: MontGras Reserva Carmenere

Grape: Carmenere (100 percent)

Region: Colchagua Valley, Chile

Vintage: 2012

Price: $9.99 per bottle.

Availability: All wine and grocery stores

In the glass: This MontGras wine is a deep dense blood red color with an opaque core going out into a fine crimson to slightly tinged rim definition with high viscosity.

On the nose: The wine comes out with crushed black fruits with underlying spice elements, peppery crushed blackberries, black truffle, tobacco leaf, phenolic compounds, earthy minerals, licorice root, herbs, tar and light wood components.

On the palate: There is an immediate huge mouth-feel with concentrated wild cherries, pepper-laced and spicy blackberries, huckleberries, bell peppers, massive phenol-laden structure, earthy minerals and oak references. The mid-palate is highly impacted by the liqueur-like cherry and elderberry fruit with notes of sloe fruit, herbs and earthy minerals and then the bombastic finish sets in lasting for a full minute with yet more licorice root, star anise and wood. That is some delivery for $10 bottle of wine!

Odds and ends: On Nov. 24, Chile celebrated the 20th anniversary of the rediscovery of Bordeaux’s lost varietal Carmenere in Chile. To this end they hosted a huge virtual tasting, which I did not have time to participate in, but given my penchant for doing actual tastings with real bottles of wine, this turned out much better. I lined up about 25 different bottles of Chilean Carmenere available in retail stores here and made it a true blind tasting, just the way I like it. There were some great wines in this line-up for sure and I can only recommend readers to go out in search for the delicious Carmenere wines of Chile, wherever you can find them. The obviously had to be a couple that were outstanding; one was outstanding, but not very good value for money, while the other turned out to be a lovely MontGras Reserva Carmenere. MontGras, which is a great winery established in the early 1990s in the greatest appellation of Chile, the Colchagua Valley, has continued the honored tradition of making Carmenere-based wine and it shows well in this bottling, which is impressive. I visited them earlier this year and tasted their entire range of wines. Neighboring such illustrious wineries as Clos Apalta, Montes and Ninquen, it is no coincidence that this MontGras Carmenere Reserva delivers a great deal of bang for the buck and it is a masculine and full-bodied wine that is like made for a juicy Bison burger, which is what I enjoyed it with. It needs a good hour out of the bottle, preferably in a decanter, to open up and really come out and play, but then you’ll really enjoy it. Drink now through 2018.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at

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