This beautiful crimson violet-tinged wine is the best red I’ve found that works with spicy dishes. Despite being pretty full bodied and alcoholic, it is relatively refreshing – thanks to the high acidity – but has lots of concentrated ripe, slightly perfumed blueberry, black cherry and blackberry fruit. Crucially for curries, it is not too tannic.
The Chilean producer of this wine, Oveja Negra – which translates to Black Sheep – ages it in mainly used French oak barrels for 18 months which provides a subtle toasty smokiness which complements the juicy black fruit and its spicy undertones. Ovjea Negra is based in the Maule Valley in central Chile and benefits from a Mediterranean-type climate: not too much rain and long hot summers to really ripen the heat-loving Carignan grapes.
Thought to have originated in Spain, Carignan – and a host of other European grapes – came to Chile in the 1800s. However, it’s only been in recent times that producers have began to sit up and take notice of the lovely concentrated wine that now-old Carignan vines can potentially make. The grapes that go into this wine are over 50 years old – and yields are restricted to produce really concentrated fruit.
Be prepared to pay up for good quality Carignan, over £10 for a Chilean wine and around the mid-teen mark for a Languedoc-Roussillon blend, as it is likely that it will be made from old vines that of course cannot be produced overnight!
At a glance
- Style? Medium to full bodied red wine
- Where is it from? Maule Valley, Chile
- What’s the grape? Carignan
- Tastes of? Blackberries, ripe blueberries, sweet spice
- What food would complement it? Tomato-based rustic grain and pasta dishes, but also chillies and curries. We love it with Cardamom & Aubergine Curry