Houses Of The Forest!
Houses of the Forest in Spanish is Casas Del Bosque. I have reviewed their other wines but never their Carmenere. Family owned winery Casas del Bosque was founded in 1993 by Juan Cuneo Solari. The son of an Italian immigrant, he had always dreamed of having his own vineyard and chanced upon an area of the Casablanca Valley, 100k due west of Santiago, with its pine forests, olive groves and small, white abandoned adobe houses (hence the name Houses Of The Forest or Casas Del Bosque). The winemaking team are very serious about translating the character of the vineyard and grape into the final wine, using longer than average skin contact to extract extra flavor from the grapes. Some vineyards are under organic management and the winery is currently beginning the process towards Wines of Chile Sustainability Certification, which is the first step on the way to organic certification.
2017 Casas Del Bosque Carmenere Reserva
Winemaking in Chile goes back 400 years. The Casablanca Valley is sandwiched between the Pacific and the Andes, its dry, warm climate enjoys high temperatures which are moderated by the cooling effects of these two great forces of nature. The Casablanca Valley is a real deal ‘cool-climate’ region, a current buzzword among wine lovers which to denote a (generally) New World wine region which enjoys a more European style climate and therefore wines
Today Casas del Bosque produces 1,2 million bottles of wine yearly, all made from grapes grown at Casas del Bosque estate. It exports 80% of the wines to more than 50 countries around the world. The other 20% is distributed throughout Chile. One of Casa del Bosque’s biggest strengths is its soil. In the hills, red clay composites of volcanic origin sit on top of decomposed granite layers formed 110 million years ago beneath the Pacific Ocean. This soil gives their wines the unique characteristic sea salt flavor.
Carmenere is or was one of the 6 Red Grape Varietals of Bordeaux. Bordeaux’s loss was Chile’s Victory. Now Bordeaux has replanted Carmenere so expect to see that grape blended in the future and also 100% Varietal. The one element that I NEVER understood and still don’t. The French were mistaking Chilean Carmenere for Merlot for years until the early 1900’s when it was properly identified as Carmenere. I have never blind tasted a Carmenere and ever thought it was a Merlot. If anything the classic green notes might have made me confused with Cabernet Franc but not Merlot. I can see the plushness and soft tannins and juicy fruit comparison but not comparing with even 100% Merlot at least to me!
This vintage was warm and early flowering and early harvest in August!. That means lower production for 2017. As the heading says “Carmenere has to be done RIGHT!” If not, you have too much vegetal notes and a “Fajita Wine” This vintage with vines at least 40 years old they did add a smidgen of SYRAH to round it all out and give some balance. Casas Del Bosque is one of the Premier Wineries in Chile and if they put out any wine it is is going to be DONE RIGHT! Let’s Review!
1 hour minimum on the breathing with a slight chill to bring it down to 68 F Degrees before evaluating. 13.5% Alcohol. The wine has a deep penetrating ruby red color with very lighter shade on the fringe due to it’s young age. A medium body frame. Off the bat, you can smell aromatics of a Carmenere done RIGHT not a FAJITA in a glass. Ripe blackberry and plums, smoky vanilla whipped cream in the background along with just a tiny bit of classic bell pepper due to the 10 months spent in French Oak Barrels. and the Carmenere Varietal (bell pepper) . On the Palate, juicy, yet plush with ripe plums, blueberry, bing cherry flavors and the touch of Syrah rounds out the finish with soft tannins some extra lift of blackberry and a hint of Dark Mocha and spices. Yes you get just a very hint…I said hint of green bell pepper but the winemaker did a great job of pushing that to the faint background. All grilled white or red meats would pair well and wonderful by itself. I am not going to say this is the world’s earth shattering Carmenere but at a price of $12.99 this is a solid 90 points out of 100 just based on the quality to price ratio.
I am no different than my customers. I am not drinking $30 bottles every night nor am I bringing those expensive wines to a get together of people I don’t know. We all need those under $15 and in this case $12.99 bottle to drink a glass with dinner or to bring to someone’s home that is a high quality to price ratio wine with a crowd pleasing palate. I don’t say Carmenere is your GO TO GRAPE….Only when it is Done Right like this one!
Juan Cuneo Solari Owner