Come on….Don’t deny it. You do, and in fact we all do it. What is it? Look now, it’s a little late and you’re rushed to get home after work; so you bolt into the local convenience quickie stop to grab a jar of red sauce and a bottle of cheap grocery store wine. You know what I’m talking about: that acrylic/glass container with the catchy label filled with high alcohol easy fruity yummy deliciousness for two bucks off the regular retail price. I was pressed into such a situation last night. Yes, yes, I purchased the obligatory pre-fab red sauce and a bottle of the shelf ubiquitous Root 1 Carmenére 2009. How could I resist with those couple of dollars shaved off the usual $11.99 down to $9.99?
In so far as every day recognition is concerned, Carmenére is not a varietal rolling over the tongue and down the gullet for a majority of us. Originally found in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in the pre-phylloxera days of the 18th and early 19th century, it served as a companion with Petit Verdot for many of the wines produced there. Now, however, it has found a home in Chili as a single varietal bottling.
This Root 1 ’09 is actually a blend of 90% Carmenére with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah giving it a little boost. To the eye it revealed transparency and a shining quality with a few specks of sediment and a ring of large bubbles clinging to the inner diameter of the glass. At first the bubbles gave concern about some “secondary” fermentation still going on, but ultimately that was not the case.
Right out of the bottle this Carmenére blasted a medicinal quality and a jaggedness on both the nose and the palate, but fortunately they dissipated after a few minutes and the wine rounded out.
Aromatically the wine exhibited itself to be quite healthy with a medium-plus intensity while still lingering in the primary fruit stage. Deep dark ripe fruit along the lines of blackberry, dark raspberry and cherry dominated and companioned with some vanilla, light caramel, smoky spice, (was that a violet?), and hints of warm crushed stones. But peeking around the corner lurked a twiggy, green vine-like note.
Once on the palate the dark fruit hung in there mingled with some char, leather and stirrings of minerality. Acidity approached a medium level while the ripe moderate tannins held everything together. The 14% alcohol was nicely integrated, resulting in a mid-weight body, although there was just a smidge of thinness flowing through the mid-palate. The wine finished modestly with the prominent aspects char and minerality: akin to a smoldering camp fire with the ring of stones still warm from the night before.
But hey…for the price this is a good wine value. And after a long exhausting day with some pasta—you know it.