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I’d like to start off that this is a 93% Merlot 7% Carmenere blend.

These are the notes and history provided by the wine club:

In Chile, it is known as Valle Central.  It is a vast stretch of land, spanning almost 250 miles from the Maipo Valley, just south of Santiago, to the southern end of the Maule Valley.  It has been home to vineyards for generations, and over the past two decades, it has become the wine growing capital of the country.

In terms of volume of wine produced, Valle Central is one of the largest growing regions in all of South America.  And because of its size, it’s home to numerous microclimates that accommodate the growing of many different varieties  – including what has become Chile’s signature red variety, Carmenere.

In decades past, Carmenere vines often were intermingled with Merlot plantings, and the farmers would simply create “field blends.”  Today, a much more scientific approach is taken both in the vineyards and the Valle Central cellars, resulting in sublime, beautifully balanced wines like the 2011 El Guardian Merlot-Carmenere.

Tasting Notes:

Grape Composition: Merlot and Carmenere

Grape Source: Central Valley Growing Region of Chile

Aromas and Flavors: Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Tobacco, Plum, Pepper and a Hint of Vanilla

Aging Vessels:  Assorted Oak Barrels

When to Drink: Now through 2014

Tasting Panel Score: 90 Points

Food Pairing Suggestions:  Pork loin, or pasta with a rich meat sauce.

My first impression?  Meh.  When you first take a good sniff of the wine you pick up subtle hints of oak and berries.  Then the aromas just stop abruptly.  That first sip feels much lighter than a typical red.  It starts off heavy on the blackberries, then fades into an oaky/peppery/old pipe tobacco taste.  It’s different.  I can’t honestly say I hate it.  I can’t honestly say I like it either.  I’m well into my second glass now.  Not because I’ve decided I like it, but because I can’t quite figure out what it is about it that makes me want to try just one more sip to try to figure it out.

Suggested food pairings included pork loin, pasta with meat sauce and roasted red meats.  You won’t catch me eating any of those.  You won’t catch me coming anywhere near those.  It paired decently with popcorn.  It wasn’t terrible with peanut butter cookies.  I think I may enjoy this more if for one, I enjoyed meat, and secondly, if I thoroughly enjoyed red wines.  I’m very picky with my reds.  I love a good Cabernet or Pinot Noir, and I can appreciate a good Merlot.

On a scale of “this tastes like piss” to “oops, I just drank the whole bottle”  I would give this a “I’m only working through my second glass because I can’t quite figure it out.”  Would I buy it again on purpose?  No.  Would I drink it if I was at a dinner party and it was being served?  More than likely, unless a good Riesling or Chardonnay was being passed around.

Final Grade:  C/C+