Your red this month is a winter warmer made from a grape that Chile is getting quite exercised about. Carmenère was once widely grown in Bordeaux and contributed considerably to the golden era around the 1870’s before phylloxera, the vine root munching louse, devastated the region. Grafting the superior European top stock onto the inferior but phylloxera immune American root stock rescued the vineyards from extermination, however Carmenère did not take to grafting as successfully as other varieties and Merlot, which worked well and produced decent quality, took over. Cuttings found their way to Chile which, with its unique geography, has no phylloxera and so commercial plantings were established. Now it is regarded as a grape of true quality and some of the country’s top wines contain significant quantities of Carmenère. This is a pure, unblended version which illustrates just how much flavour well made Carmenère can generate. Drink with dishes that can take a kick of full throttle fruit - try it with a chili, homemade burgers with garlic, herbs and a bite of onion or perhaps a dish with plenty of chorizo in it.
This month’s white is also an assertive little number and has not appeared here for over two years; it certainly deserves another outing. It is from our old friends Bodegas Borsao, though it is probably the least well known of their range. It is made from a grape variety called Macabeo which also grows in the Basque country and on into parts of southern France. It has a long, slow fermentation in stainless steel, followed by ageing in cask at a controlled, low temperature; the former allows the fruit flavours to develop thoroughly and come out cleanly, the latter rounds it out and contributes an underscore of light oak spice. It behaves much like a rather good, modern White Rioja with savoury fruit and zinging freshness. Try it with richer fish recipes, paella or, for a very English take on it, make a chicken, leek and mushroom pie with a sauce that is as creamy as your arteries will allow and cut it with a big glass of this. Yummy.
2010 Carmenère, Montevista, Valle Central, Chile
Price per bottle: £7.35 (sealed case price: £6.98) Half price for one sample (members only) £3.67
Deep in colour with punchy fruit showing notes of bramble and pepper. Half an hour in a jug before you start will let the air open it up.
View our Chilean wines here
2010 Borsao Blanco Seleccion, Bodegas Borsao, Campo de Borja, Spain
Price per bottle: £7.35 (sealed case price: £6.98) Half price for one sample (members only) £3.68
Shows ripe fruit with a nice, crisp, dry edge; quite broad on the palate with a touch of peachy weight and a twist of spice, all countered with Macabeo’s natural freshness.
Williamson has invented some more Mystery Six packs,
so watch out for those at the end of the counter.
He reports that we still have the wherewithal to continue with these for a week or three, but it is likely that we will run aground after that. Therefore please note that these are subject to stock remaining unsold and you would be well advised to grab one sooner rather than later if you wish to secure one before they disappear.