Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | November 29, 2011

Poll: FAIL or WIN?

In the last year or so, I’ve started collecting wine. It’s a new dimension in my life as a connoisseur of fine drink, but something I’ve enjoyed. Generally speaking, I don’t spend a lot of money on wine. I look for good values in the $10-20 range primarily. When I’ve visited wineries or encountered things I know I like, I’ll go up to $30-35. This is certainly more than most people will spend on a bottle of wine at a liquor store, but the point is I’m not going out buying wines for collection or icon wines. That said, I have been given a couple bottles of wine which can age for a long time and have sale prices of around $100.

Tonight I accidentally opened one of them. I can’t decide if this is an EPIC FAIL or an EPIC WIN.

First, the wine: Santa Carolina Herencia Carmenere 2007 from Peumo, Chile. It’s Santa Carolina’s icon wine and it retails around or above $100. It was given to me by the Wines of Chile after I won their #TweetChile trip and blogged about it extensively. My fiance and I had been saving it for a special occasion.

How did the accidental opening happen? I came home after a truly exhausting day at work and an equally tiring workout at the gym. I was wiped out. I didn’t really feel like wine, but Lori, my fiance wanted a glass with our very casual and completely unremarkable dinner. Now, I’d recently received a big shipment of wine from Garagiste and our little wine fridge is completely full with wine that we can’t drink for at least a few months. Lori looked for a bottle to open, but told me, “I don’t think we have anything we can open.” I said, “Nonsense, why don’t we open this bottle of carmenere?” We’ve consumed a ton of Chilean carmenere over the last year and I honestly had forgotten that this was the one bottle we were saving for a nice occasion. I was tired and ready for a glass of wine. I wasn’t really thinking.

It wasn’t until we opened the bottle, realizing in the process that this was a large, substantial and clearly more expensive than usual glass container, that Lori says, “Hey was this the really expensive carmenere that we were saving?” Eep.

Now here’s the good news. This wine is fantastic – one of the best carmeneres I can ever recall drinking. It’s also in the prime of its drinking life, according to the experts.

Before I get to a review of the wine, here’s a quick poll. Was accidentally opening a very expensive wine a fail or a win?

Tasting Notes
Herencia is a deep, dark purple. On the nose there’s strong spice, dark cherry, and tobacco. The first taste hits of red pepper typical for good carmeneres, as well as bright vegetal and herb notes, with an earthy undertone. It has a tangy-sweet finish with some peppery spice and fairly bright tannins. The finish is long and the balance between sweet and savory notes is truly impressive. I’d initially marked this down as a 90-91 on my scale, but that was before it had really breathed at all (again, when we hadn’t realized what we were drinking). After letting it breath for an hour or so, I’m upping my rating to a 93-94. It’s a picture-perfect representation of what great Chilean carmenere is capable of achieving. This is a fantastic wine and definitely worthy of it’s icon status for Santa Carolina. While I can’t see myself buying another bottle simply because I don’t often spend this much on any spirit, I wouldn’t have been disappointed had I purchased this myself.



  1. […] Orleans will be featuring Swedish craft beers in January. • A Jigger of Blog’s Matt Hamlin unintentionally opened an expensive bottle of wine without realizing it; he cannot figure out if it was an epic win or an […]

  2. Long ago, when my family was gathered for Thanksgiving at my parents, my father had just been invited to permanently mount the wagon by his physician.

    Late in the evening, my mother informed us after he went to bed that we must drink up all that damn wine of his in the coat closet so he wouldn’t be tempted. So we sat around the table, ate Nacho Cheese Doritos, and drank the eight bottles of rather tasty but unremarkable-looking French Bordeaux while playing Balderdash.

    When we got home, my wife wanted a few more bottles, since it didn’t give her a headache… Yup, we found it… $86.00 a bottle (in 1992 dollars) for five years younger stuff.

    Epic Win.

  3. Doug Winship – did you like the French Bordeaux? I love it, is one of my favorite wines.

    • Oh it was fabulous. I do like Bordeaux, I don’t drink it much since my wife can’t take it without getting a headache.

  4. Epic win, but you could age it a bit more. That would be super tasty.

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