I was standing in The Store perusing the South American shelf, looking for Malbecs that looked like a good deal when a lady with a shopping basket, apparently in a hurry, zoomed to where I was standing and reached for the Xplorador Carmenere. She said, “This is yummy. And it’s on sale!” She plopped two into her basket and wooshed away. Now, no matter how quickly she entered the picture then vanished, I heard the words “yummy” and “sale”, so directed my attention to the spot she snagged the bottles from. Indeed, it was reduced from $9.99 to $7.99, so I took one home to investigate the “yummy”part of her statement.
Xplorador is one of the many brands in the Concha Y Toro portfolio. We have, in these pages, looked before at Concha Y Toro, but some review is in order. Concha Y Toro is the 500 pound gorilla of Chilean wine. Their line up ranges from very Cheapskate friendly Frontera to high end labels Don Melchor and Carmin de Peumo. Xplorador is right in the middle of the lineup. Well, maybe the lowish middle. They also have an Argentinian presence, and in 2011 acquired most of the wine portfolio from Brown-Forman, the company that sells Jack Daniels and many other well known liquor store staples. That acquisition included Californians Fetzer, Little Black Dress, Bontera and others, firmly planting Concha Y Toro among the leaders in global wine sales.
Carmenere, as a varietal, is less familiar to most of us than the Big 5 reds-Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Syrah. It was once one of the Bordeaux grapes that was used in world class French Bordeaux blends, but the phylloxera plague wiped it out in the 1800’s. Attempts to reintroduce Carmenere to France with American sourced plantings failed, and that was the end of Carmenere wine. In the 1990’s, it was discovered that many Chilean Merlots were, in fact, the Carmenere grape. Today, Chile’s Central Valley is the world’s king of Carmenere.
Yummy is correct! It’s dark purple in the glass, rich and full on the tongue, but smooth. Plum fruit flavors, a bit of oak. Inviting fruit smell. This is a lot like the Cabernet/Merlot blends I’ve tried-a bit more stout than Merlot, softer than most Cabs. Nice. I’ll watch for this one to be “on sale” in the future.