Return to Terrunyo: One Year Later 02/17/12

On Saturday I played host to my good friend Ben, whom you may remember as my partner in wine through various vinic adventures: Hoboken, Hoboken, Hoboken, and Virginia. Ben’s birthday was coming up, and even though I had bought him some sake to commemorate the “25 and still alive” milestone, he had taken it upon himself to bring a bottle of his own, which he graciously agreed to share with me, but only on one condition: that I write about it on my blog.

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Here at Convicted for Grape, we only occasionally negotiate with terrorists.

The wine in question? Concha y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere 2007, a $38 wine I’ve actually reviewed before – same vintage and everything – as the headliner of my second Hoboken holiday. On that day the course of history was changed forever, as I awarded my first ever rating of ten thumbs up – the third highest score possible in my desultory system. Terrunyo showed me elegance I simply hadn’t found before in wine (at least not with the ability to recognize it), setting the Carmenere bar unfairly high while simultaneously securing its place among my favorite grape varieties.

I tasted Terrunyo again over the summer, at the Wines of Chile Grand Tasting in New York. There, however, I received but a tiny sip: really rather tantamount to torture, and not enough time for me to see how the wine had changed. But now here I sit, an older, arguably wiser man, prepared to evaluate the wine a full year later in its life cycle. So had the lovely Terrunyo matured with dignity and grace, like me? Or had the ravages of time reduced this beauty to a wrinkled, cranky husk of its former self?

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Like NBC’s The Office.

There was only one way to find out for sure: a thorough scientific analysis of the wine’s innumerable chemical components, to be compared against the results of a similar breakdown of the bottle we drank in 2011. But that wouldn’t have been much fun; and moreover, not having performed such an analysis last year, we would have required access to a time machine in order to get it done. So we decided simply to take the easy way out and drink the Terrunyo instead.

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This picture is of the last one, but really, who’s gonna notice? …Wait, forget all that.

In short, we found the wine to be both familiar and different. The first thing we noticed was the weight of the bottle – not exactly the most environmentally friendly way to show people how important your wine is, but effective enough on selfish asses like me and Ben. Next our attention turned to color: an intensely pleasing purple, of such a regal hue that even the most jaded of kings would be likely to pause and appreciate it. Interestingly, my notes from before depict the wine as lighter-colored, which suggests that maybe I just have bad lighting in my new apartment.

Then came the olfactory portion of our Terrunyo tour: aromas of toasted cocoa and coffee merged into a mocha musk, which ushered in pure and focused notes of blackberry and boysenberry, one of which might have been jam. Bringing up the rear was a hint of vegetation that might have been a pepper, or perhaps tobacco. Last time I said eucalyptus – let’s go with that.

On the palate, Terrunyo was impeccably balanced, with blackberry and boysenberry notes that were somehow sweet, yet not; with a hint of chocolate and a tiny twang of green pepper. The tannins had subsided somewhat since last year’s tour, but they hadn’t left the stadium entirely yet, with many still loitering around the venue, looking for something fun to do before going home to their wives and kids, and they’ve gotta be at work early the next day, dammit…

My point is, I loved this wine. It may be a $40 bottle, but it deserves to be.

But my point – my real point – is that I didn’t love this wine quite as much as I did the first time I tasted it. It’s still spectacular, and likely to retain its luster for a while yet, I’ll bet; but what can I say? I like my reds with tannins: young and brash. Impetuous, even.


The 2007 Terrunyo Carmenere, this time around, earns thumbs up. But stay tuned, folks: another, newer 10 is on the way!

Well it’s two years older, actually, but you get the idea.

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