Chile continues to produce an interesting range of wines, that have established international popularity. Its unusual features of high altitude of the Andes, cooling winds off the Pacific, and extensive warmth and sunshine, are largely responsible for the success. White grape varietals have long been the most popular in Chile. In particular Sauvignon Blanc grows well in the cooler regions, which yield superb wines with high acidity and intense fruit and citrus flavours. Black varieties including a full-bodied Merlot are also planted extensively but enjoying more the warmest and sunniest sites.
Early in the 18th century, Merlot was one of the six noble grapes in Bordeaux. Another of the six, was the Carmenere – which is very similar to the Merlot grape in appearance, dark-purple colour, and significant fruity aroma. The Carmenere is distinguished by its more earthy flavour. In the 1860’s, a devastating root-feeding aphid quickly wiped out the vineyards throughout Europe. Replanting followed, but the Carmenere proved too difficult to resurrect.
This “lost grape of Bordeaux” was transplanted to Chile over a century ago but was simply ignored and assumed extinct. Until 1994, that is, when viticulturist Boursiquit revealed that the “free growing” grape among the thriving Merlot was in fact the forgotten Carmenere! An honest mistake. Oops!
In Chile, the rediscovered Carmenere has been cleverly blended with Sauvignon Blanc to create the apt-named (Oops) White. They have combined the beautiful Sauvignon grape with the pulp of Carmenere, without contacting the skin. The Carmenere softens the tangy citrus flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc with unique earthy undertones, creating a textured white wine with exceptional taste and excellent value.