We recently attended a Zoom tasting of a diverse selection of TerraNoble Winery Carménère from Chile. For the tasting, we received five samples of impressive wines, detailed below. According to winemaker Marcelo Garcia, these wines are “fresh, easy-drinking, elegant, versatile, food-friendly, quality wines.” We couldn’t agree more, as did other wine writers at the tasting, and a group of our friends who shared the experience.
Located in San Clemente, Chile, the name “TerraNoble” recognizes “the majesty of the soils of the Maule Valley, and its ability to gift excellent wines.” Founded in 1993, TerraNoble considered itself a boutique winery specializing in Merlot. However, in 1994, Chilean Merlot was identified instead as Carménère. Therefore, TerraNoble committed to this rediscovered variety that today has become emblematic of the Chilean wine industry.
In other words, TerraNoble recently celebrated its first 25 years. And winemaker Marcelo Garcia and regional director Tomas Uribe said they learned many valuable lessons about Carménère over the years, which resulted in the wines’ excellence today. Since its early days, TerraNoble also has extended to about 300 hectares in the Colchagua and Casablanca valleys.
The TerraNoble philosophy is one of minimum intervention, for wines to be true to the land and the distinctiveness of its grape varieties. A Sustainable Wines of Chile Certified winery, TerraNoble is in the process of becoming Vegan certified.
We tasted four Carménères that showed diversity across vineyard sites, in addition to a Carignan. Firstly, the TerraNoble Gran Reserva line of single varietal wines were the first premium value wines from the Maule Valley. These wines are produced from select plots that express the terroir with intense aromas and complexity. Our lineup included a Gran Reserva Carménère and the Carignan.
Secondly, we enjoyed two 100% Carménères that, under similar conditions of production and aging, show unique characteristics reflective of terroir. Both are full-bodied, opulent strong wines.
- CA1: Carménère from vineyards near the Andes Mountains
- CA2: Carménère from vineyards near the Pacific Ocean coast
2017 Gran Reserva Carménère ($18.99)
This is 100% classic Carménère from the Maule Valley, close to the Andes Mountains. This wine comes from a selection of the best 25-year-old vines and is the flagship wine, “the most important wine in the winery” according to Tomas. After decanting for two hours, this wine continued to evolve over time. We found loads of black cherry and other dark fruit flavors, and notes of spice and bitter chocolate. Pair it with grilled meats, thick ribs, risotto or spicy food. While it’s drinking well now, this wine can be cellared for five-to-six years.
2016 and 2017 CA1 (Carménère Andes) ($24.99)
From the CA1 line, these two vintages are also 100% Carménère, this time from the Los LIngues vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains. The two years differed in climate, with the 2016 vintage cooler than 2017. As a result, the 2017 grapes were picked two weeks earlier than the previous vintage. The 2016 opened with intense aromas of red and black fruits, followed by notes of dark red berries, spices, herbs, red bell pepper and cassis.
The 2017 is more expressive than the 2016, partly because the oak regimen was dialed down. My good friend Jenise Stone, who has an excellent palate, preferred this one over the other four in the flight. She says it “had brighter, more flirtatious fruit, and less emphasis on the chocolate notes.” Pair both these wines with steak, mushroom risotto or well-seasoned dishes such as spicy chili. Drink them now or cellar for six-to-eight years.
2017 CA2 (Carménère Costa) ($24.99)
CA2 is 100% Carménère from the Lolol vineyard in Colchagua Valley (Costa), located 20 miles from the ocean. I favored this one, likely because of its chocolate notes and soft minerality, coming from the granitic soils of the Chilean coastal mountain range. Unlike the 2017 CA1, the same vintage of CA2 does not have herbaceous notes. Elegant, powerful and full of fresh red fruit, the aromas jump out of the glass and are mirrored in the flavors of red fruit and spice. We paired it with marinated flank steak. But it will also go well with other grilled meats, stews and short ribs. Drink it now or cellar for six-to-eight years.
2018 Gran Reserva Carignan ($18.99)
This is 100% Carignan from the Maule Valley. Typically a blending wine, this standalone is zippy, crisp, vibrant and fresh. Aromas of cherries and mineral notes lead into flavors of more cherries and raspberries. Pair it with lasagna, other pasta with red sauce, stewed meats, strong-tasting cheeses and charcuterie. Be sure to decant it for 2-4 hours, or put it away for up to 5-6 years.
In conclusion, we are very impressed with these TerraNoble wines, and look forward to tasting more Carménère in the future. Thank you, TerraNoble, for the Zoom event and the samples.
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Margot and Dave