Casa Lia Phoenix Merlot 2013
Deep red notes with violet highlights, intense raspberry, chocolate, menthol and smoke. Smooth mouth feel, medium body and very good balance. Carmenere has fast become Chile's signature grape. This is a great value example
Carménère was an ancient and important grape variety in Bordeaux pre-1800s but the outbreak of phylloxera (a louse that destroyed huge swathes of European vineyards) saw it nearly wiped out and for some reason it was not replanted when the restoration of vineyards started again. For many years, Carménère in Chile was thought to be Merlot and labelled as such but with modern DNA techniques was eventually identified correctly. It survives in Chile because the Phylloxera louse cannot cross the sandy deserts surrounding Chilean vineyards which are also protected from invasion by the Andes on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Chile is one of the few wine producing countries to grow this variety.
Vines average 18 years old, are grown on trellises and are hand-picked with double selection in the vineyard. There is a warm, temperate climate with a Mediterranean rainfall regime with cool nights because of the proximity of the Pacific Ocean (50 miles away) and the Andes Mountains (37 miles away). Soils are deep, rocky loan-clay.
Long pre-fermentation maceration for good colour extraction without excessive tannin extraction. Fermentation takes place in steel vats with pumping over of the cap, the wine is aged six months in steel vats with some micro-oxygenation and a portion of the cuvée is aged eight months in French and American oak barrels then re-blended into the whole
Stewed red meats. Great with bacon and mushroom risotto