Tracy sent me looking around for a Chilean Cabernet called Puerto Viejo, which TWC did not find. Instead, he came across a Carmenère from the Colchagua Valley, Chile.
TWC is fond of Carmenère (also called Grand Carmenèt), which once was *THE* premier grape of Bordeaux (one of six noble varietals*). Obliterated in Europe over a century ago by the scourge of phylloxera, the grape was assumed to be extinct.
Until the 1990's, the Carmenère vines that migrated to Chile from France a century and a half ago (before the outbreak of the European phylloxera plague) were thought to be simply a Chilean adaptation of Merlot. With subsequent advances in genetic fingerprinting, France's foremost expert on vineyard varietals, Jean-Michel Boursiquot, identified the Chilean vines as the long lost Carmenère grape of France.
Carmenère is perfectly adapted to the inland valleys of Central Chile, which enjoy warm, dry, sunny days and huge nightly temperature swings that slows the ripening of the fruit. Longer hang time means more vibrant and flavorful fruit.
Natura is produced by Emliana, the largest organic grower in South America. It is a blend of 87% Carmenère, 4% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Tempranillo, 1% Malbec. I find that organic wines tend to be mono-dimensional, often flat and uninteresting. And, really, there is no apparent reason for this to be so. After all, good grapes and good wine making techniques go together like Fred and Ginger.
The Natura is a big, bold, full bodied wine that is anything but flat or uninteresting. It is sturdy and not for the shy. And that's *exactly* my glass of red. Those who prefer a lighter, milder wine may well be overwhelmed.
The wine is a gorgeous deep burgundy red in the glass. It is bone dry with smokey black fruit on the palate, a little chocolate, mild black pepper and spice,and a long easy finish.
As Stevie the Spy (who denies he is Harriet the Spy's father) is fond of reminding us: Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances. With no expectations and no preconceptions, TWC snagged a bottle of the Natura for ten dollars (U.S.). It was definitely a chance worth taking. Dionysus smiled.