One of the first grape varietals I “discovered” while legitimizing my wine consumption through sommelier training, was Carménère*. It was one of the bottles I got in my monthly Club W shipment and I was having steak. So I needed a red. I was immediately struck by the strong by aroma of bell pepper. Wait, no it was jalapeño pepper. Regardless of the pepper, it was big and bold and paired great with the steak. And since then Carménère has been my secret budget red with steak.
I wrote “discovered” because it was at one time a widely planted grape in the Mèdoc area of Bordeaux . It found its way down in Chile where it was thought to be Merlot until they did some gene sequencing and found it was really the long lost Bordeaux grape, Carménère
So for my second wine for Wine of the Week I wanted to introduce this varietal to my dedicated readers**. So I pulled a $5 bottle off the shelf of my neighborhood Trader Joe’s and here’s what I found.
- Appearance – clear dark purple, almost like Welches
- Nose – clean dark fruit, dark cherries and raspberries, but with some rotted fruit. Just a hint of oak and green pepper.
- Palate – lowish tannins, not much acid, low flavor in general. Notes of black cheery and a tiny bit of chocolate.
Overall, not very good. If I was forced to describe it, I would say it tasted like a generic red wine you would drink at a bar that doesn’t really server wine.
$5 was probable too cheap for any wine in the US, even at TJ’s. I’ll try one again later in the $9 price point.
Eat it with a burger if you must. Don’t waste a steak on this one.
Oh and if anyone wants a free box of wine, let me know. I can give four away from Club W. But, to be honest, I’ve only had a handful from them that were any good.