The Tussock Jumper Carmenere is the Chilean entry for Tussock Jumper’s 13 wines from around the world. The grapes are sourced from the Colchagua Valley, located in the southern part of the Rapel Valley, which again is part of Chile’s Central Valley. All the valleys are that these wine-growing areas are sandwiched between the Chilean Coastal Mountain range and the Andes Mountains. The story of Chilean Carmenere is interesting; back in the 1800s, Carmenere is a widely used blending grape for Bordeaux wines. Carmenere is a hard grape to grow and subject to insect infestation (phylloxera), other grapes were hit hard by the insects, but Carmenere was devastated. Eventually, the vineyard owners quit trying to replant Carmenere vines, and Carmenere became extinct in Bordeaux. Meanwhile, in Chile, vineyards were growing what they thought was odd Merlot; it never tasted like Merlot. Finally, in 1994, someone said something was wrong here, and they sent some vines off to be tested. It turned out that sometime in the 18oo’s, Carmenere grapevines were sent to Chile mislabeled as Merlot. The insects that decimated the Bordeaux vines don’t exist in Chile and the grapes that were so hard to grow in France thrived in Chile. The major problem was that Carmenere grapes ripen 3 weeks later than Merlot, so for decades, Chilean winemakers were using Carmenere grapes that were not ready for harvest as Merlot. So, the lost, extinct grape of Bordeaux is alive and well in Chile. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is dark, rich, opaque crimson red. The nose is bell pepper with a little black pepper, some plum, and dusty cocoa powder. It tastes of extracted blackberry, gingerbread spice, cassis, and a late hit of herbal tea. The mid-palate adds a touch of green vegetables and a little smokey bacon. This is a smooth wine with a nice rough edge at the finish that gives this Carmenere some nice texture. The finish starts full but fades quickly.
The Tussock Jumper is a solid, well-priced Carmenere. Carmenere has a different flavor profile than the other major Red wine grapes; it is a nice change of pace. Pair this wine with a nice steak or a juicy bleu cheeseburger; better yet, get a Merlot bottle, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc and blend your own retro Bordeaux wine.