WINE REVIEW: CARMEN CABERNET SAUVIGNON GRAN RESERVA (CHILE)
Here’s a perfect example of why you should ignore the numerical ratings posted as labels on bottles (not to be confused with ratings in the wine trade or on in-store displays). The Carmen rates at a “97,” which is posted there on the front label. A 97! That’s world-class.
Well, Carmen was fine, but it was nothing special. While the rating is legitimate (Carmen varietals have won many awards at tastings), my admittedly biased opinion is this Chilean vintner is one of those trendy picks popular with critics to show they’re not all about France and California. So, up-and-coming wine production regions (including Chile) get bit of encouragement from the experts. Wine reviews and journalism can be quite incestuous.
My reviews hide nothing and are entirely about authenticity and taste, combined with value. And, the Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon drank very pedestrian to me. Good wine, with those distinct characteristics of extra tannin which we associate with South American reds, but for the money, if you’re aiming for outliers, I’ll take several comparables from Argentina (or better yet, Spain) at this price point which are superior.
Credit Carmen for their 170 years of history and the prestige they’ve earned as the oldest major wine producer in Chile. The winery has produced many award winners — including some classified as “wine of the year.” However, as this write-up from Total Wine shows, much of this is about name-dropping:
“….they’re not afraid to innovate. That’s is why they brought Emily Faulconer to the team. Like Viña Carmen, Emily’s winemaking record is incredible. She brings passion and experience to Carmen after leaving her mark at several wineries from all over the world including Cakebread in Napa, Trinity Hill Winery in New Zealand, and Chateau Canon in France. Her wines reflect the true essence of the region in which the grapes are grown all while she continues to evolve and adopt new ways of making wine. That makes her a perfect pair for Carmen.”
Nothing against Faulconer, but she’s not going to change the flavors of what’s poured into my glass — at least not for a generation. So, let’s please dispel this celebrity-culture that pumps up reviews and adds points so the wine reviewers can feel good about their influence.
Again, Carmen drinks fine. And, it’s not a bad wine for $16 a bottle But it’s not a 97.
Lesson: Ignore ratings affixed to wine labels.
Grade (100 point scale): 90
Value: (10 point scale): 3