I have recently been getting more and more chances to taste relatively unknown and obscure grape varieties as you can read here and here. I think it is unbelievably impressive just how far some of these wines are coming from to be enjoyed in this humbled abode we call Kenya. Certainly the general quality and variety still needs to be significantly improved; but nonetheless we are seating at a great base, all things considered!
My latest victim to have fortunately had its path cross with my palate was a Carmenère from Chile. Almost extinct in its home town, Bordeaux, it has made Chile its new haven where the vines have flourished tremendously (since it was discovered in about 1994 not to be Merlot) and yet has never been exposed to Phylloxera (a root louse found in majority of vineyards around the world). A late ripening grape, it requires considerable warmth and sun light to ensure perfect ripeness.
The wine I tried was from the produce Apaltagua’s Icon range called Grial; that is possibly named in reference to the Holy Grail. Isn’t that a bold reference to make? … Its “hallowed” grapes were sourced from a 60 hectare vineyard in Apalta, which is a well renowned tiny region found within Colchagua Valley. Surrounded by various mountains and not too far out from the cold Pacific Ocean, this area receives high daytime temperatures that are followed by bitter cold nights. This drastic change in temperature (known as diurnal range) allows the grapes to ripen slowly which in turn produces well-developed, intricate and balanced flavours.
To its testament, the wine did deliver in presence and power. The nose lite up with abundant youthful red fruit, such as plums, and underlying spice. Only showing a glimmer of age despite being 6 years strong, I picked up savoury mushroom that added an interesting dimension. On the palate, vibrant rich tannins run lose giving it a firm yet not at all abrasive texture. Having spent a year in brand new oak barrels, the wine gave off mocha and roasted nut aromas that rounded off the finish. Beautiful length and a tone of character made for some great drinking!
Going at Ksh 13,060.00 at Berries & Barrels, it certainly isn’t cheap! It’s the kind of wine you treat yourself with once in a while just because you deserve it.
Picture from Barrock.