A delicious good-value red wine is awaiting you in the 2009 Vina Calina Carmenere Reserva.
Vina Calina is a Chilean winery located in the Maule Valley. In 1999, Jess Jackson purchased the El Maiten estate, replanted the vineyards and built a modern winery. Jackson, a California lawyer who gave up torts for grapes, added Vina Calina to an extensive portfolio of wineries from Tuscany to Bordeaux to a slew in California, the most famous being Kendall-Jackson.
Vina Calina produces a range of wines under three labels: Bravura, a premium blend from the best vintages; Alcance, a selection of the best grapes from Vina Calina’s vineyard; and Vina Calina Reserva, estate grown grapes.
All the wines are made by South African-born Gavin Taylor, who graduated in 1996 from the University of Stellenbosch with a degree in viticulture and oenology. Taylor’s ascension to Vina Calina’s winemaker was a natural progression from his various positions at other Jackson wineries, such as Kendall-Jackson, Cardinale, La Crema, and Stonestreet.
Taylor has made a very appealing carmenere wine. This grape, originally from Bordeaux, has become identified with Chile. If not grown and fermented correctly, carmenere can produce an aggressively herbaceous and vegetal wine. Taylor has avoided the pitfalls.
The 2009 Vina Calina Carmenere Reserva is a blend of 80 percent carmenere, 12 percent merlot, 5 percent syrah, and 3 percent cabernet sauvignon. After a short maceration, the juice was fermented and transferred to an equal percentage of French and American oak barrels, of which only 15 percent were new. This winemaking technique avoided extracting carmenere’s natural herbaceousness and overwhelming the fruit flavors with new oak accents.
Black fruit and mild smoky aromas greet the nose, and black plum and blackberry flavors are carried on a velvety body that finishes in a pleasing, balanced finish. If truth be told, I was surprised at how much I liked this wine, as most of Jackson’s wines tend to be sweetish, too oaky, or too alcoholic for my palate.
I enjoyed my glass of the 2009 Vina Calina Carmenere Reserva with a bowl of penne pasta coated with a tomato sauce flavored with fennel pork sausage and New Jersey farmers market arugula. You can repeat that tasty combo, or match the wine with grilled eggplant and roasted chicken, or grilled tuna or salmon topped with black olive tapenade. But perhaps the best combination will be at the checkout counter with your wallet and the price tag.
The 2009 Vina Calina Carmenere Reserva retails for approximately $11.