2005 Panilonco Carmenere

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Evaki

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Carmenere is more obscure than the fifth Beatle. The sixth grape of the famed five Bordeaux varietals, usually compared to Petit Verdot for the sturdy qualities it adds to Cabernet blends, Carmenere is not even grown in Bordeaux anymore. It does have a new home in Chile, where it’s blended into Cabernet and also bottled solo on occasion and noted for its smoky/earthy flavor profiles.

Carmenere makes for some interesting wines in Chile — but this is not one of them. The Panilonco starts of with aromas of dirt and cherries. It’s not unpleasant but a little plonky… some green aromas come along with some cooked, and there’s a whiff of something vaguely chemical as well. The good news is that the off aromas mostly dissipate after a couple hours.

In the mouth the wine is more clean, with soft tannins and nice texture . The finish is short – more like a memory than real flavors.

While it’s not bad for the price, and I’ve no regrets about pulling the cork on this one, I won’t be running out for another bottle anytime soon.”

What I Think:

I grabbed a bottle of this when I was out shopping to get some more Rocking Horse. Giving the price tag on those I was focusing on some low cost alternatives to round out the case and this caught my eye. Given my infatuation with the Casillero del Diablo and my disappointing experience with the Calina I was somewhat curious to see where this one would fall in. By the way the name of this wine translated appears to be “Chief of Lions”.

The first thing I noticed is that all three were from different regions within Chile. The Casillero del Diablo had loads of fruit which I was expecting to be the norm where as the Calina didn’t show me much of anything. I could see the terroir angle in my head. Opening this one you immediately realize that it wouldn’t align perfectly with either of the other 2. On the nose this bottle was earthy, there were aromas of cherries but they were a bit muted. On the palate these were a little clearer and held before the earthiness, dust and dirt, came back into the picture. The finish seemed heavily barrel influenced. This wine is certainly worth the price of admission and if it didn’t have to go head to head with the reigning champ it may have been worthy of some accolades. Given the $4 price tag I did ponder whether the extra $3 spent on a bottle of the Casillero del Diablo was worth it. The answer was a resounding yes. Dig in the couch for loose change if you have to.

Rating: 12th Bottle

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11 thoughts on “2005 Panilonco Carmenere

  1. Heheh, old post but couldn’t resist to reply to this one. A friend and I tried a 2008 Panilonco Carmenere and it started out a little disappointing. Straight from the bottle it seemed almost drinkable and okay-ish, just cheap. Maybe the Vinturi and a decanter could help.

    But the aftertaste proved to be the harbinger of something horrible. A Vinturi and an hour in the decanter later, we had reached a point where my friend and I tried to express our heartfelt regret of buying this bottle.

    Even for the price, we just couldn’t get over the taste of burnt rubber on hot summer tarmac. With a hint of vinyl siding and the lingering aroma of paint remover, we finally decided that this wine was good for one thing, and one thing only: the kitchen sink.

    • Thanks for the comment. It helps me immensely as this wine has long been winking at me from the bottom shelf asking for another try. I’ve almost cave but you have now given me more resolve!

      • One wine you should try: Oreana’s “?” is very good. The wine changes drastically in the decanter and just keeps getting better. Wonderful wine for the price.

  2. I think the 2009 is a great value. I noted blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, mint, tar, a little spice, and minimal tannins. You could call it a bit disjointed…but a lot of interesting flavors for the price. I also enjoyed Panilonco’s merlot/malbec and chardonnay/viognier, but I had those too long ago to remember details.

    • @Don Looks like divergent opinions here. I was middle of the road on the ’05, @Gabelstaplerfahrer panned the ’08 and you were enjoying the ’09. Did you enjoy it enough to go back and buy some more? That is always my ultimate gauge for how much someone liked a wine… You put some cracks in my resolve, that was just reinforced, as to avoiding bringing this one home again. Outside chance I give it another try…

  3. Jason, I didn’t buy more, but that doesn’t mean anything. I work at Trader Joe’s and still have plenty of cheap wines I’d rather try out and learn about before going back to favorites (with the exception of a gift or special occasion). A coworker I recommended it to liked it as much as I did. If you do happen to buy it soon pay attention to vintage; yesterday I noticed a bottle of the 2008 on the shelf as I was putting out a case of 2009.

  4. @Don To me it does mean something. It sounds like we approach wine in the same way, I love to explore as well. That said, when swimming through so many unremarkable wines when I find a gem I’m getting some more! I am on the lookout for the ’09, I’ll let you know what I think after I grab a bottle…

  5. panilonco carmenere is by far the best low cost value wine I’ve tasted at TJ so far, and probably the best low cost red of any varietal anywhere. I’ve used in in taste tests with self described wine buffs, wine shop owners, oenophiles, etc, and they all thought they were drinking an $8-12 bottle of wine. That doesn’t mean they necessary loved it, some liked it, others thought it was ok, but when I told them the price they all agreed is a steal.

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