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Featured Reviews

Dona Paula Argentine and Carmen Chilean Wines from Red and White Cellar

25 April,2017
The red+white cellar distribution company has a broad range of imported wines to complement its New Zealand labels. From South America, there are the ‘Dona Paula’ Argentine wines and from Chile are the wines of ‘Carmen’. Paula’ is a modern producer, established in 1997 and based in Mendoza. The company only employs estate fruit from its plantings figuring over 700 ha. The top wines are terroir-expressive. The ‘Los Cardos’ range (‘cardo’ is ‘thistle’ in Spanish) is based on freshness and fruit expression. Carmen is the first and oldest Chilean winery, founded in 1850 by Christian Lanz who named the business after his wife. The rediscovery and first commercialisation of the Carmenere variety is attributed to Carmen. The ‘Premier 1850’ range is that of contemporary-style wines that give tribute to the founding date. Here, I review a selection of Dona Paula ‘Los Cardos’ and Carmen ‘Premier 1850’ wines.


Dona Paula ‘Los Cardos’ Mendoza Malbec 2016

Malbec from Argentina

Very dark, deep, black-hued purple-red colour, a little lighter on the rim. The nose is elegantly concentrated with aromas of dark raspberries and black berried fruits entwined with subtle notes of fresh herbs and blackcurrant leaf. The fruit is uncomplicated and vibrant. Medium-full bodied, the palate has a moderately concentrated core of dark raspberries and spicy blackberry fruit intermixed with notes of fresh, dark herbs and leafy elements. The fruit has some sweetness and is balanced by modest tannin extraction. Bright acidity enlivens the mouthfeel and carries the wine to the finish. This is a moderately concentrated Malbec with dark raspberry and spicy black fruits along with herbs on a lightly extracted palate. Seve with antipasto and barbecued fare over the next 2 years. Fruit from Lujan de Cujo, given a cold soak and fermented to 13.7% alc., the wine spending 10-15 days on skins post ferment. 16.0-/20 Apr 2017 RRP $17.99

Carmen ‘Premier 1850’ ‘Reserva’ Casablanca Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from Chile

Bright straw-yellow colour with some green-gold hues, lighter edged. The nose is softly full with aroma of fresh white stonefruits gently layered with savoury nutty oak suggestions and hints of herbs. Medium-full bodied, the palate has good presence, with tightly bound, elegantly presented flavours of stonefruits, citrus fruits and savoury nutty notes. The palate is underlined by light phenolic textures providing a little grip, and balanced acidity. The flavours carry to a light finish. This is an up-front, light-flavoured Chardonnay with stonefruit, citrus fruit and savoury nutty notes on a dry, textured palate. Serve with seafood and poultry over the next 2+ years. Fruit from Casablanca fermented to 13.5% alc. and 3.6 g/L RS, the wine given oak contact. 15.5/20 Apr 2017 RRP $19.99

Carmen ‘Premier 1850’ ‘Reserva’ Colchagua Merlot 2016

Merlot from Chile

Full, very deep and dark black-hued purple-red colour, very youthful in appearance. The nose is a little restrained, showing moderately concentrated aromas of dark-red plum and berry fruit along with subtle notes of fresh herbs and some leafiness. The aromatics are primary in expression and have vibrancy. Medium-full bodied, the palate has well-proportioned flavours of dark-red plums and redcurrants along with fresh herb notes. The fruit is supported by light tannin structure and the palate has fresh acidity providing some energy, carrying the wine to a gentle finish. Thi Melot has fresh flavour of dark-red plum and redcurrant fruit, with herb notes on a light-structured, lively palate. Match with barbecued and roasted red meats over the next 2+ years. A blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Malbec from Colchagua, fermented to 13.5% alc., 80% of the wine aged 9 months in French and American oak. 16.0-/20 Apr 2017 RRP $19.99

Carmen ‘Premier 1850’ ‘Reserva’ Colchagua Carmenere 2016

Other Red from Chile

Impenetrable black-hued purple-red colour. This has a full and softly concentrated nose with aromas of dark-red and black berried fruits entwined with savoury dark herbs, unfolding blackcurrant leaf, dark-red floral elements and nutty oak. Medium-full bodied, the palate has moderately rich and sweet flavours of blackberries and blackcurrants along with dark herbs and subtle leafy notes. The fruit sweetness is underlined by fine-grained tannin extraction and structure, and the wine possesses good acidity and alcoholic drive. The flavours lead to a sweet-fruited finish with dark herb and curranty fruit flavours. This is a moderately rich and sweet blackcurrant and blackberry fruited Carmenere with balanced extraction and structure, and good energy and drive. Serve with herb-marinated roasted red meats over the next 3+ years. A blend of 90% Carmenere and 10% Carignan from Colchagua, fermented to 13.5% alc., the wine spending 40 days on skins with 60% of the wine aged 8-10 months in French oak. 16.5/20 Apr 2017 RRP $19.99

Carmen ‘Premier 1850’ ‘Reserva’ Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile

Very dark, deep, black-hued ruby-red colour with youthful purple hues. This has an elegant nose, quite slender in proportion with light aromas of blackcurrants, dark herbs and a little nutty oak, unveiling aromatic leafy elements. Medium-bodied, the palate has finely concentrated flavours of blackcurrants, cassis, herbs and leafy elements showing with moderate intensity and depth. The fruit is supported by sinewy tannin extraction and crisp acidity. The flavours recede as the wine carries to a lingering nuanced finish. This is a slender Cabernet Sauvignon with blackcurrant, cassis, herb and leafy flavours on a crisp, sinewy palate. Match with herb-marinated red meat dishes over the next 2 years. Fruit from Colchagua, fermented to13.5% alc., the wine pending 35 days on skins and 80% aged 10 months in French oak. 15.5/20 Apr 2017 RRP $19.99
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