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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Carménère: Two Shades and Two Continents #WorldWineTravel

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

This month the World Wine Travel writers are looking at Carménère. Host Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles encouraged us: "Choose a Carménère from Chile or from anywhere in South America!" You can read her full invitation.


Here are the links to the articles on Carménère from the #WorldWineTravel writers...


Funny thing: I was (re)watching one of my favorite shows - Bones - and in one episode they are able to identify where the murder victim last ate because the wine found in the victim's stomach was 'almost extinct carménère.' and only two restaurants in the area had it on their wine list. I don't know what year that episode aired, but they clearly weren't aware that today, November 24th, is Carménère Day. It's hardly extinct. And I am thrilled to be sharing three different bottles...in two shades and from two different continents.


Apaltagua Reserva Carménère Rosé 2022 with Three Grilled Octopus Dishes


My first pairing was with a Carménère Rosé from Chile. Owned by the Tutunjian family, the Apaltagua Winery, which is located in the Apalta region of the Colchagua Valley, focuses on small-production wines made from the estate's vines 65-years-old vineyards by winemaker Carolina França.



The wine poured a delicate pale salmon color. On the nose, this was perfumed with aromas of red fruits such as ripe strawberries along with a hint of roses and citrus blossoms. On the palate, the paleness belied the depth of flavors. In addition to mirroring the aromas of the wine, there were layers of spice and aged balsamic vinegar. The wine was medium-bodied, fresh, and dry.


Since I love pouring Rosés with octopus dishes, I grilled one octopus and served it three ways with the wine: Grilled Octopus Burrata Salad, Grilled Octopus Soft Tacos, and Grilled Octopus Salad.



Here's how to make the Grilled Octopus. I used some of tentacles over a bed of arugula for a salad. Then I diced up the rest.



From South America, I'm moving to Europe with a red Carménère.


Inama Carménère Piu 2020 with Mushroom Piccata


The second Carménère I poured and paired was from Italy. So, off the continent of the prompt from Robin. But I couldn't help it! I adore wines from Italy and I wanted to make an Italian-inspired dish. Jake and I are eating more veg-heavy. Instead of a chicken piccata, I went with a mushroom piccata made with local lion's mane and oyster mushrooms.



The Inama family has been producing wine in the Veneto for nearly half a century. In the mid-twentieth century Giuseppe Inama began using his savings to acquire small plots of vineyards in the center of the Soave Classico region. Inama also cultivates grapes in the Colli Berici where the Carmenère vineyards date back to the 1800s.


This bottle is not a single varietal; instead it is a blend comprised of 85% Carménère and 15% Merlot. The wine poured a beautiful ruby color with a bright violet rim. On the nose there were lots of dark berries, cocoa powder, and black pepper. On the palate, the wine was fruity and spicy with a lengthy finish.



Ingredients

makes 3 servings

  • 2 organic lemons

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 12 ounces mushrooms (I used oyster mushrooms and lion's mane sliced thickly)

  • 1 large shallot or 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano or other green olives, pitted

  • 1 Tablespoon capers

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

  • freshly cracked black pepper for serving

  • rough chopped fresh parsley for serving



Slice one of the lemons into thin rounds. Set aside.


Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook until browned and crisp all over, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a large plate.


Add remaining 1 Tablespoon oil to same skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook shallot until softened, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and beginning to turn golden around edges, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the wine and add in the olives, capers, and lemon slices. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until wine is mostly evaporated, approximately 2 minutes. Add butter and swirl skillet continuously until butter is melted and emulsified into sauce. Squeeze juice from the second lemon. Taste the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Return mushrooms to skillet and cook in the sauce until well-coated. Serve hot.


For my final Carménère pairing for the #WorldWineTravel event, I returned to South America with a red Carménère.


Los Vascos Cromas Gran Reserva Carménère 2020 + Fennel-Kissed Braised Duck Legs


This Carménère is from Colchagua Valley in Chile. Los Vascos has their vineyards at the foot of Mount Cañeten and with over 1500 acres of vines, it is one of the largest vineyards in the central Colchagua. Winemaker Marcelo Gallardo studied at Universidad Austral de Chile in agronomy engineering, then continued his education at Universidad de Chile with a degree in enology and viticulture. After graduating, he interned in Portugal and, then, worked in Burgundy before returning to Chile.


The wine poured a brilliant garnet color tinged with purple. On the nose, the wine is rife with black fruit such as olallieberry, plum, and black cherry along with wafts of pepper and herbs. On the palate, the tannins are muted and velvety with a balanced heft and acidity.


Stay tuned for this braised duck legs recipe, but it's similar to this process.


To wrap up the year, I will be hosting this group while we delve into sparklers from South America. Look for an invitation before the end of the month.

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