December 6th: Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère wine review

Wine Advent Calendar December 6th: Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015

I’m sorry if I’m going to repeat myself here, but today’s choice  is another from the Oddbin’s wine tasting held at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral the other day.

Why is this wine here? Because I went “oooo,oooo,oooo, look, oooo, it’s a white wine with carménère,  ooo , look, Cambo, look”.

My mate Cambo just ignored my giddiness. He activates his Jane Has Wine In Her Hand Force Shield when we’re at tastings; ever since I shouted, very loudly, “ooooooo, SAUSAGES” at the London Wine Fair a couple of years ago.

I think he’s still taking the tablets  – but I swear blind I could smell raw sausage meat from my tasting glass as I stood by the Bordeaux stand. I can’t remember what the wine was. I’ve had a drink since then.

So, when I go “oooo, oooo” in my giddy lowbrow  kind of way, Cambo usually looks at me in his highbrow kind of way and goes “oh, Jane”.

But this time he was genuinely interested. A white wine made with carménère? It was a new one on us.

Here it is.

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère wine review

Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015

What is it: It’s a white wine. An unusual white wine.

Where’s it from:  Chile, the Maule Valley to be more precise.  Find out more about the region here courtesy of Winerist.

I’ll tell you some more: The carménère bit is why I was excited. Much like Argentina has made the Old World grape malbec its own; so the same has happened with Chile and carménère.

I’ll quote a piece I wrote a couple of years ago (if you click on the linkOveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère 2015 you’ll see my Mille the Moo doggie  – but don’t go just yet) …. I said:

“This is a grape which up to a few years ago was thought to have disappeared. In the 1870s a phylloxera plague of small aphids destroyed most of Europe’s vines.

“Carmenère was as good as lost in its heartland of Bordeaux.  But some early winemakers in Chile had taken the grape across the ocean, where for many years it was thought to be merlot. In 1997 DNA tests discovered that it was in fact carmenère and the following year Chile hailed it as an official variety.”

The grape creates some amazing red wines  but I’ve never seen it in a white blend until now. What, I hear you say? But it’s a black grape so how can it create a white wine? Well, if you squeeze the majority of black grapes the juices run clear. Red wine is created by the grape juice maintaining contact with the dark skins.

The grapes: Carménère and sauvignon blanc. I’ve said what I need to say, other than the Oddbins’ techie details explain the wine is a split of  84% sauvignon blanc and 16% carménère.

What of the taste? Well,  as you know, I went “oooo” and that’s what I wrote down. I’ve spent loadsamoney  on wine exams and I write the word “oooo”. Although I also scribbled “a new one on me” “a bit grapefruity” and “oregano”. I’m relieved to read Oddbins’ description as “spices and herbs over a strongly grapefruit-y backdrop”.

The small print. Oveja Negra Sauvignon Blanc Carménère is 12.5% abv and is screwcap. You can buy in Oddbins shops, or online here, for £8.75. You’ll need to add a delivery cost depending on the size of your order.


Red wines: Three to try, a rioja, carmenere and barbera

red wines review

I write about wine and other drinkies in a handful of regional UK newspapers; I share my thoughts here on One Foot in the Grapes. Here’s a selection of red wines reviewed in recent weeks.

Three red wines should the fancy take you

Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja red wine review
Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja

♦ Red wines are probably a safe bet to warm your toes if sunny days don’t live up to expectations. Ramón Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja (13.5% abv, £9.49 at Majestic or £7.99 if in a case of six) is a blend of tempranillo and grenache.

The wine has spent eight months in American oak which lends flavours of vanilla and a grind of spice.

It is generous with its fruit, gifting a hug of cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours of warming ripe red fruit. It’s as cosy and comforting as your favourite slippers.

This wine would be great with a lamb casserole; or if you peek outside and the barbecue is calling, then burnt-edged sausages could be just the trick.
(Price correct at time of print publication: May 2016)

Rive Barbera d'Asti red wine review
Rive Barbera d’Asti

♦  Despite the  miserable summer weather,  I managed to sneak in a barbecue and poured a red wine with burgers.  

Rive Barbera d’Asti (14% abv RRP £10 from independents including,

The wine has been aged in a mix of new and old oak barrels  for 18 months to create a complex, comforting wine.

Black cherries and plum aromas huddled at the top of the glass together with a flicker of mint; then oodles of rich cherries mingled with spice in the mouth to transform and uplift our ordinary burgers.

(Price correct at time of print publication: July 2016)

Root 1 Carmenere 2014 red wine review
Root 1 Carmenere 2014

♦ By all means get your kicks on Route 66, but if you want a decent drop of Chilean Carmenere for under a tenner, my advice is to take Root 1.

Root 1 Carmenere 2014, (£8, 13.5% abv, Morrisons) is a mix of 85% carmenere and 15% syrah grapes, all grown on ungrafted roots (hence the name).

This is a delicious drop, with rich berry flavours, a hint of spice and slight vanilla on the finish, and a gloriously silky texture that feels like … well, silk on the tongue.

Although it’s a full-bodied wine, there’s a delicacy to the structure that goes perfectly with a nice bit of steak or a roast beef dinner, although you certainly wouldn’t complain if you had it with a spicy tomato pasta dish.

(Price correct at time of print publication: July 2016)

Reviews first published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals  

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

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