Folks at the bar sometimes come in and ask for a glass of wine that comes from a specific place, such as Italy, Argentina, or Spain. The other evening, I had someone ask me about wine from Chile and we got into a really interesting conversation about their volcanic soil, the mission grape, and three amazing Chilean natural winemakers: Villalobos, Cacique Maravilla, and Roberto Henriquez. We’ve served Cacique Maravilla’s Pipeño and Vino Naranja at Rebel Rebel before, and I’m so excited that we’re pouring Lobo Carmenere from Villalobos by the glass this week. It is made with 100% Carménère, which gives the wine ripe fruit flavors with a dark chocolatey bitter finish (in a good way). This grape has an interesting story: for many years, people thought it was extinct!
It’s originally from Bordeaux, France. In 1867, a plague of phylloxera, which are almost microscopic, pale yellow sap-sucking insects, related to aphids, destroyed most of the vineyards in Europe, including the Carménère in Bordeaux. Just before the plague broke out, Chilean growers had imported cuttings from Bordeaux, which included Carménère grape, were planted in the valleys around Santiago near Merlot vines. They were spared from the phylloxera plague because of central Chile’s climate and minimal rainfall. “In 1994, the French ampelographer (grape botany expert - a.k.a. coolest job ever), Jean-Michel Boursiquot, noticed how some of the ‘Merlot’ vines took a much longer time to ripen. Boursiquot carried out research to determine that somewhere close to 50% of the Merlot planted in Chile was actually the long lost Carménère variety of Bordeaux.” (Wine Folly: 10 Cool Things to Know About Carménère Wine). After a few years, Chile officially recognized Carménère as its own unique variety and to this day remains the the world's largest area planted with this variety. Come check out a little piece of history and have a glass of Lobo Carmenere from Villalobos at Rebel Rebel!