I wasn’t familiar with Carmenere, so I did a little research on the grape. It was originally grown in the Burgundy region of France, but it has all but disappeared in that region. For the past 150 years or so, it has been grown mainly in South America. It’s often used as a blending grape, but some wineries, particularly in Chile, have been using it as a standalone grape or the predominate grape, blended with a small percentage of another grape. If Lapostolle’s 2009 Alexandre Cuvee Carmenere is an indication of how good the grape can be as the predominate grape, I think they’re on to something.
I opened the bottle last Friday night, right before I fired up the grill to cook some steaks and some bacon wrapped scallops (after a week of quick meals before and after Little League games, I wanted to cook something we could savor around the dinner table). I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the bottle, but with my first sniff, I suspected it would be good with the meal. I could smell dark berries and a spiciness that was pleasing.
The first sip (before decanting) was peppery and full of flavor. I decanted, and I was pleased to find that it didn’t need food to be enjoyed. Like many wines, pairing it with food did make it even more enjoyable. It was great with the steak. The mild tannins and the full flavor were a hit with my husband, too, who is very finicky about which reds he likes. Between the two of us, the bottle was gone by the time dinner was finished.
The bottom line is I really liked this wine, and I would choose to buy it. In fact, I looked for it at the wine store the next day, and while they had other Lapostolle wines in stock, they didn’t have the Carmenere. Other wines in the Alexandre Cuvee line ran from about $18-$20. I see the Carmenere selling online anywhere from $18-$35 a bottle.
Lapostolle is in the process of having all its vineyards fully certified organic by CERES (Certification of Environmental Standards), an independent USDA-accredited certification agency. Because Lapostolle also uses biodynamic farming methods, minimal intervention is used when growing the grapes that are hand harvested. The wine is aged in oak.
* Wine, beer, and spirits disclaimer: I am not paid by any producer of wine, beer or spirits to write about their product, although they may provide me with a sample of their product. I am not a professional reviewer of wine, beer or spirits. I’ll write about the product if it’s something that I like, and if I think the producer is working toward making the product in an environmentally friendlier fashion.