Cellar Craft CC Showcase Chilean Carménère

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lilvixen

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I did a search and didn't seen any recent threads about this kit, and since my favorite threads on here are about people's journeys with their wine kits, I thought I'd start one.

This is my 8th wine, 7th kit, and 4th premium kit. We don't drink Carménère often, but I've really enjoyed the few commercial bottles we have tried. In Total Wine, Carménère is listed as "if you like an oaky Merlot, try this!" so I figured it'd have a decently broad pairing range.

Basic stats:
Started Jan 14, 2017
OG before skins: 1.082
Yeast: used D254 instead of kit yeast
50g natural oak chips (added in primary)
100g medium toast Hungarian oak (added at racking today)

Used a Brew Belt until day 2. Temperature peaked at 82* on day 3. I used the provided bag for the skins and oak chips, stirred daily. The CC Showcase instructions say to keep in primary for 10-12 days. I snapped down the lid and added an airlock on day 3 at SG 1.032. Around day 8, the skins were no longer floating, and I panicked a little about the lack of CO2, so I racked at the end of day 9. There was very little gas, which was good and bad, since that's been an issue for me. Final SG 0.997.

On Feb 5, I racked, added the kit kmeta, degassed with a Brew Belt at 74*, added only one of the two packages of kieselsol/chitosan and about an ounce of American M+ oak cubes because I had a bit left in the package I'd used on another wine.

Today (Apr 15), I racked onto the kit oak cubes, added kmeta, and a pinch of tannin because I had a little left. I've been putting off this racking because I was actually nervous about the wine. The last time I racked, it didn't smell good. Not the stressed yeast kind of smell, just... I don't know, but it wasn't enticing or pleasant, so I was avoiding it.

Hubby and I tasted an ounce each before I racked today, and oh my, is it good! It doesn't taste fruity to me, so I can only guess that the other weird-sounding flavor profiles are present. Here's the profile from the CC website:
Oak produces soft tannins, subtle toast, and vanilla, providing a terrific backdrop to the aromas and flavours of blackberry, black cherry, tropical fruit, and spice from the grapes. Notes of coffee, mocha, and tobacco can be expected along with a mineral tang that forms as part of the lengthy finish. The wine is medium to full-bodied with bright ruby colour.
So I'm guessing it's the coffee, mocha, and tobacco notes I'm tasting. Either way, I love it, and it's only 3 months old! I don't detect any gas (thank goodness), and while I know it'll get better with age, I'd happily drink this now. From the description, yes, the oak and tannins are subtle, and it's medium to full-bodied. And it doesn't taste like anything I've had, which may be why I'm so smitten with it.

We also sampled the 4 month old Eclipse Lodi Cab in the neighboring carboy, which confirmed how different the Carménère is. The two have similar body and oak and tannin profiles, but the Cab tasted way more fruity than the Carménère. Hubby preferred the Cab, but I think it's because it's more familiar to him. But then, I also like the more intense profiles like Shiraz and Petite Sirah, so the Carménère may play more to my preferences.

So the plan is to leave the Carménère on the kit oak cubes for a couple months and bottle this in early June. Given how good it tastes now, we'll probably add it to the dinner rotation in July.

All my premium kits are young, with the Carménère being the youngest at 3 months, but it is hands-down my favorite so far.
 
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Stevelaz

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That kit is hard to find, and pricey! Where did you get yours?
 

lilvixen

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I order from FineVineWines, as the total cost with shipping is better to me in the west coast, and I've experienced great service. If I remember correctly, CC was their Jan Wine of the Month.
 

lilvixen

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@Stevelaz, if you're still looking for this kit, FineVineWines has CC Showcase kits on sale right now. I think they're in the middle of updating their site, so use the "Wine Kits" button in the left nav, then click on CC Showcase.
 

lilvixen

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I bottled this today, along with the Eclipse Cab. Hubby and I sampled both before bottling, and the Cab is good, but a little harsh (youth? oak?). The Carmenere was absolutely fantastic! It's only been a month since the last tasting, but it's more smooth, and the intense flavors from last month are a bit more subdued, but still there. Today, Hubby preferred it to the Cab, which surprised me.

I'm sipping a half glass from the partial bottle left over from bottling, and the flavor is a world of different from the $12 commercial Pinot Noir bottle we had with dinner, but the quality is close. I have high hopes for this kit!

Also, the Cab and Carmenere put my 180 capacity rack in the master closet at 95% full with 7 different kits. I'll need to buy another rack before I can bottle the two kits in progress. Woohoo!
 

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