Chile, perhaps more so than most countries, seems to have a set of conditions that allow for the production of truly distinct and intrinsically complex wines from Bordeaux varieties. Carmenere is leading the way, though it is perhaps a risky proposition considering the rather difficult nature of the grape, both for the producer (low yields and late ripening) as well as for the consumer (distinctly vegetal). I believe Chile has had great success with Carmenere because it offers an alternative. An alternative to the fruit bomb, it ripened to an anonymity style of wine that has been increasingly common throughout the past decade.
The tables have turned of course, and winemakers the world over, including in Chile, have backed off many great excesses. For whatever reason, great climate, great soils, or winemaker preferences, Chilean Cabernets seem to have less backing off to do. Maybe it’s simply because of what great Carmenere is, medium-bodied and a bit soft, with herbaciousness and fruit creating a dynamic savory snap in the mouth. These Chilean Cabernets tend to deftly blend fruit, spice and savoriness into a fine synthesis of new and old world styles that are worth seeking out and trying.