Santa Rosa California is abuzz with talk of how Carmenère has become
the rage with wine lovers, who drank up all Calina Winery's 2000
vintage. This year the trendy winery responded the wine drinking
public's fascination with the little-known grape by tripling Carmenère
production. That's right I said "tripling."
According to sources at kendal Jackson, the parent company, Calina
plans to release 15,000 cases of the 2001 Carmenère on May 1 in major
American markets, signaling a substantial, long-term commitment to the
signature grape of Chile.
Calina marketed the first widely available Carmenère by an
American company when it shipped 2,000 cases of the 1999 vintage
nearly two years ago. Production doubled to 4,500 cases for the 2000
"We sold out the 2000 vintage, and we're prepared to make sure
there's enough wine for the 2001 vintage," said Carl Krawitt,
marketing director for Calina. "People have sent a clear signal
that they love this wine-and at $9, it remains a tremendous buy."
Calina took a calculated risk when it put money on Carmenère. The
grape had nearly disappeared from the world wine map until recently.
It made its way in the mid-19th century to Chile from Bordeaux, where
it once played a large role. But its low yields forced it out of favor
when the French replanted after the phylloxera outbreak of the 1870s
Carmenère lived unrecognized in the remote vineyards of Chilean
for more than a century. It began to re-emerge only in the early
1990s, when Chileans discovered that many of the vines they called
Merlot were actually Carmenère.
Once they sorted out its pedigree, Chileans began to recognize what
wine lovers have come to appreciate: the low tannins and big, bright
blackberry fruit of Carmenère make it a delight to drink alone and an
ideal match for a range of foods.
Carmenère has since come to symbolize Chile much like Shiraz calls
to mind Australia, Malbec Argentina and Zinfandel California.
Calina's Carmenère has played a lead role in forging this new
identity for the grape. Critics praised the 2000 vintage with a raft
of accolades, including a Gold Medal at the Florida State Fair, 5
Stars in Restaurant Wine magazine, a score of 90 in Wine Enthusiast
and a Best Buy in Wine Spectator.
The 2001 Calina Carmenère is sourced from the estate vineyard in
the Maule Valley near Talca, Chile. It aged nine months in small
French and American oak barrels. Low yields and careful harvesting
mean intense color, exuberant red fruit and spicy aromas.
A kindred wine is Calina's Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère. It won
high marks in Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Restaurant Wine,
which called the 2000 vintage "excellent.
Calina has ensured many years of success for Carmenère. Its
vineyards are maturing and delivering better fruit than ever, as
viticulturists learn more about growing and harvesting the variety.
Inside the winery, winemakers now devote more time to Carmenère as a
distinct variety, drawing out the best in the ripened fruit.
"Carmenère has come into its own after a century's
hibernation, and we're proud to have a hand in its rebirth,"
Krawitt said. "Just stand back and watch it grow."
Calina has a website were you can find out more about Carmenère and
the wines of the Calina winary at calina.com.
Calina is one of several wineries opend and operated by kendall-Jackson
Wine Estates. KJ produces an impressive assortment of quality
remium wines crafted from hillside and coastal growing regions in
California, Italy, Chile, Argentina and Australia. Along with
Kendall-Jackson, which features Collage®, Vintner's Reserve®, Grand
Reserve, Great Estates™ and Stature™ wines, KJWE offers Camelot
and Pepi brands with California appellations, Sonoma County's La Crema
Winery, Edmeades from Mendocino's Anderson Valley, Villa Arceno from
Tuscany, Italy, Yangarra Park from Australia, and South American
wineries Calina from Chile and Tapiz from Argentina.
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