This is a real Damascene conversion. I've spent most of my life disliking Carignan - the workhorse grape of the Languedoc - and now I find myself bewitched by its Chilean incarnation. I'm told the grape is the same but I can't believe it. Chilean Carignan is much finer with a subtler, more complex flavour and balancing acidity - more like a Syrah or a Cabernet, depending on the producer and whether it's a 100% Carignan or a blend.
I tasted a range at the London Wine Trade Fair this week which I'll be writing up on my website matchingfoodandwine.com but here's one that's reasonably easy to get hold of - if you're a member of the Wine Society (which I have to say is enormously worthwhile). It's the T.H. - standing for Terroir Hunter - Carignan from Undurraga sourced from fruit from Maule, the area that was most badly affected by the recent Chilean earthquake.
It's a big, vibrant wine, the sort you would imagine drinking with a steak but fresh enough to enjoy - as we did tonight - with a relatively light supper of cold roast chicken and chips and a cucumber salad.
Incidentally if you want to donate something to victims of the earthquake which include many of the winery workers in the region you can do it through Levantando Chile, the approved charity of Wines of Chile.