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Home Winners > Winners 2016 > NEW WORLD: Carmenère

Winner Details

New World: Carmenère

2016 Gold: 4 Silver: 4 Bronze: 3 Commended: 6
2015 Gold: 2 Silver: 1 Bronze: 7 Commended: 9

The good news first: we had a record number of entries in Carmenère this year – it’s clearly a variety that the Chileans are hoping they can make a bit of a splash with – and twice the number of Golds compared with 2015. Two places on our Gold List is about par for the course for this variety, so to get four this year was, to continue the metaphor, about two-under.

The bad news? A heck of a lot of wines left with nothing, and after working their way through the various flights our teams were left (in varying degrees) confused, angry and tentatively hopeful.

The problem is that Carmenère can cover a wide stylistic spectrum, from light and leafy to rich, dark and (often) heavily oaked. If the Chileans themselves aren’t sure which is the best expression, it’s no wonder our tasters were a bit lost at times.

The best wines here seemed to be less forced, to allow the fruit to come out without being over-extracted or overripe, and to be less oak-influenced. If they can take their foot off the gas a little bit and stop trying to make blockbusters, this grape could yet ‘do a Malbec’.


‘You can see how Chile is pushing for more quality in this flight. Reduction can be an issue with Carmenère, but they managed it well. And the prices were more or less justified.’ Maurizio Palomba, Sushi Samba

‘Historically, South America’s strong point is bang for your buck, and I didn’t start putting medals on my tasting sheet until £12, which is a concern.’ Harry Crowther, M Restaurants

‘Unripe, over-extracted, sweet, confected… stylistically they were all over the place. Carmenère divides people as there’s no exact, accepted style.’ Christopher Delalonde MS, Medlar Restaurant

‘They should do better – it’s a fabulous grape variety. I’d like to see less extraction, less forcing of a delicate grape into overperforming – and in so doing, making it underperform.’ Angela Reddin, team leader

‘There are some promising wines but they can be a bit over-polished.’ Julian Bicknell, Hawksmoor Air Street

‘It could be the next grape variety that people go for… but I don’t find any complexity in Carmenère.’ Olivier Marie, team leader

‘It’s nice to have something typical from Chile. I have one at £40, but we don’t sell much.’ Giuseppe Longobardi, The Cross at Kenilworth

“WTF?” Christopher Delalonde MS, Medlar Restaurant

“OMG!” Sunaina Sethi, JKS Restaurants

“They have tried hard to get rid of that leafy character, but I like that leafy pyrazine flavour. It’s something that made the wine unique.” Zigmars Grinbergs, Vinoteca

Award winners

Found 17 wines

New World: Carmenère

Chilcas, Las Almas, Carmenère 2011, Maule Valley, Chile

Gold medal winner

'Very elegant and complex,' said team leader Andrea Briccarello, illustrating how Chilcas won its second 2016 Gold, and continuing: 'Crimson plums and violets, with good use of oak.' 'Good expression of fruit, with balanced tannin and acid and a good length finish,' said Harry Crowther of M Restaurants, with Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs adding: 'Floral, sweet spice notes, the new oak works well.'

£21.37 VIA Wines

Emiliana, Signos de Origen, Carmenère 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Gold medal winner

'Very typical, soft and light, good fruit ripeness combining with green vegetal notes,' began consultant sommelier Emily Bonsor, with team leader Andrea Briccarello picking up 'intense deep blueberry and red fruits'. Spring's Peter McDaid noted: 'Spicy red pepper flakes, eucalyptus, restrained but bruised dark bramble and cherry fruit. Needs some time.'

£10.45 Boutinot

Lapostolle, Cuvée Alexandre, Organic, Carmenère 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Gold medal winner

A good one for keeping, suggested Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs, with its 'complex nose, very good structure with great tannins', while team leader Tom Forrest noted its 'leafy black fruits, damson and currants with grippy texture and balance'. Portland’s James Fryer enjoyed the contrast between its ‘smudgy purple fruits, velvet tannins, juicy mid-palate with pepper spice and dark, earthy finish’.

£11.75 Berkmann Wine Cellars

Ventisquero, Lorosco, Reserva, Carmenère 2014, Central Valley, Chile

Gold medal winner

Concentrated and juicy, as Julian Bicknell of Hawksmoor Air Street said: 'Fresh and amazing value!' 'Bell pepper with dried herbs and spice on the nose, palate of cherry and tropical zest, spiced plum, white pepper and sappy balsamic notes,' said Spring's Peter McDaid, while Gareth Ferreira of 67 Pall Mall noted 'some delicate blueberry and blackcurrant, with fresh green herbs and delicate, smooth tannins and bright acidity.

£6.16 Bibendum

Emiliana, Adobe, Reserva, Carmenère 2015, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

'Really good varietal expression,' said team leader Olivier Marie, 'ripe and sweet with an opulent, suave texture.' 'Well rounded and soft, bell pepper, slightly hot alcohol but easy and balanced,' added consultant sommelier Emily Bonsor.

£5.95 Boutinot

Tamaya, Winemaker's Gran Reserva, Carmenère 2012, Limarí Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

'This has class,' said team leader Angela Reddin, continuing: 'Toasty coconut and vanilla aromas with red fruits. Lovely fruit on a dense palate without heaviness. Clean, lively and long.'

£9.84 Fine Wines Direct

Concha y Toro, Terrunyo, Peumo Vineyard, Block 27, Carmenère 2013, Cachapoal Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

'Well made, with characteristically sour Carmenère notes on nose and good integration,' said Vittorio Gentile of Theo Randall at the InterContinental. Team leader Angela Reddin enjoyed the 'intense, fruity nose of dark berries and red plum', set off by 'lovely background oak with sensational balance and length'.

£12.13 CyT UK

Luis Felipe Edwards, Gran Reserva, Carmenère 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Silver medal winner

'Nice spicy style with a peppery, ripe fruit structure,' began Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs, with team leader Tom Forrest finding 'warm, spicy, juicy red fruit, soft and squashy fruit palate'.

£6.01 North South Wines

Undurraga, Aliwen, Carmenère 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile

Bronze medal winner

'Lifted red berry nose, crushed leaf, smoky flavours and a lovely mouthfeel,' began team leader Angela Reddin, continuing: 'Ripe, with great herbal lift and a fine finish.' 'Very promising, at the price,' added Bart Michalewicz of Park Chinois.

£5.89 González Byass

Valdivieso, Single Valley Lot, Carmenère 2011, Casablanca Valley, Chile

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Angela Reddin found 'rosehip syrup and spice over redcurrant' on the nose, followed by a 'jelly-textured palate of brilliant balance and lovely length'.

£11.25 Bibendum

Siegel, Single Vineyard, Carmenère 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Bronze medal winner

Team leader Tom Forrest enjoyed its 'deep colour with ripe, dark damson fruit on the nose', highlighting its palate of 'leafy blackcurrant, ripe fruit and creamy oak with a persistent finish'. 'Bay leaf, spice, meaty, super-approachable and instantly appealing,' added Vinoteca's Zigmars Grinbergs.

£9.65 Addison Wines

Ventisquero, Grey, Carmenère 2013, Maipo Valley, Chile

Commended medal winner

£11.21 Bibendum

TerraMater, Limited Reserve, Carmenère 2012, Curicó Valley, Chile

Commended medal winner

Emiliana, Novas, Gran Reserva, Carmenère/Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Colchagua Valley, Chile

Commended medal winner

£7.15 Boutinot

Haras de Pirque, Reserva, Carmenère 2014, Maipo Valley, Chile

Commended medal winner

Santa Carolina, Reserva de Familia, Carmenère 2013, Rapel Valley, Chile

Commended medal winner

£8.50 Ehrmanns Wine

Pérez Cruz, Limited Edition, Carmenère 2014, Maipo Alto, Chile

Commended medal winner


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