My take on Carménère, especially when made in Chile, where it is more commonly called Carmenère or even the totally vulgar Carmenere, is that it smells of real wood fires. The wonderful scent that welcomes you back to a Cotswolds village on a crisp winter evening after a long walk in the hills, when you are making your last, trudging and tired, but relentlessly determined steps towards a cosy, heart and toe warming pub.
This Chilean model, which lacks self-confidence to the extent that it opens its kimono on the front label to guide your taste buds towards an “exotic and spicy, full bodied style with damson and blackberry fruit”, has so much smoke it triggers a gag reflex. When first poured, a dip of the nose is like putting your head over the top of the Cotswold village smoking chimney. Face crumples. Nose drips. Eyes bleed.
Fortunately the wine does mellow a bit when tasted, but there remains a slightly astringent and cacophonous afterburn. Not great for a wine being punted by Majestic for £7.99.
Drink it very cool or better still, opt for the vastly superior Casillero del Diablo Carmenère even more widely available and in the same price bracket.