TerraNoble Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011

terra-noble-carmenere-gran-reservaSome wines aren’t for everyone and that’s beneficial for, well, everyone. Think about it. If all winemakers focused on satisfying The Middle where would that leave us? Hello Napa Chard, circa ’95.

For my money, extremes and risks pump up wine excitement. Spectacular flame-outs are interesting, among other things. OK, it can make for a less-than-sound investment but let’s see some action from our wine dollar. For each near- (or far-) miss, there’s a brilliant success, a thriller that draws out the goose bumps, compelling the drinker to wake the kids and call the neighbors.

Chilean Carménère has been known to occupy such a domain. Bold and tastefully green, it’s a wine with out-sized personality and a defiantly foreign palate. That said, if you tend to take your protein with varieties like Malbec or Shiraz, know this: Carménère is a close relative to Cabernet Sauvignon and is one of the grapes that can qualify a wine as a red Bordeaux blend. Though originally branded as central to French winemaking, Carménère has enjoyed enthusiastic acceptance in wines from other parts of the globe, notably Chile.

Newly introduced as a Chairman’s Selection, the TerraNoble Carmenere Gran Reserva 2011 is priced at $12.99, making it far less of a gamble. This concentrated, intensity-plus red will take its time in the glass to lighten up and show off more of its complex core. While you’re waiting, take in its enormously smoky, pure tar nose. In the mouth, it unleashes waves of flavor as wide ranging as violets and bell pepper to the more masculine notes of green tobacco and coffee. Prepare for red and dark fruit – especially raspberry/cherry and blueberry – spice and a sustained, somewhat boisterous finish.

This is a brooding effort you won’t soon forget, noting that it’s not for the faint of palate. Plan on a loving decant to prepare it for your slab of steak, lamb stew or cheese plate. 13.4% alcohol by volume.

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