Merlot and Carmenère – can you tell the difference?

Let’s see if we can understand why the Chileans mistook Carmenère for Merlot for so long…

Montes Alpha Merlot 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile (£12.99 Philglas & Swiggot, D.Byrne)
Typical Chilean imprint of blackcurrant pastilles, also note sof rosehip and mulberry, but while the fruit is generally quite juicy, there’s also a slightly hard edge to the finish. C+

Montes Alpha Carmenère 2012, Colchagua Valley, Chile (£12.99 Wine Direct, Altus Wine)
Again the Chilean blackcurrant, but here it’s not centre stage. The rest of the wine round it is lush and exotic, with hints of herbal coffee bean adding nuances to the blueberry and blackberry flesh. Currently a bit oaky, and again a slightly hard finish, but this is much happier and better balanced than the Merlot. B+

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