Carmenere is my go-to cheap wine when I want something different. Whatever its flaws may be, it is always bracing and interesting in a freaky sort of way. And this one is no exception.
Prominent wild, bitter herbal notes rest on a layer of earth wrapped in black cherry. We’re not talking sage or thyme here—more like chicory or dandelion. On the medium-bodied palate, dark, wood-laced, fruit with charcoal notes provide plenty of flavor up-front. But there is a mid-palate hole where the fruit starts to fade and the bitter herbs are exposed leading to a disjointed finish, not quite in balance. Grainy tannins and good acidity give it a rustic mouthfeel.
There is a sensibility that will enjoy this wine. It is distinctive, forceful, and does not concede anything to the easy-drinking crowd. We need more wines like this on the bottom shelf of supermarkets. After all, prominent bitterness doesn’t deter all those IPA or 80% chocolate fans. Rustic wines like this have a lot to offer if your palate doesn’t need to be constantly coddled by sweet fruit.
Kudos for Emiliana (owned by Banfi) for producing wine that is affordable and distinctive.
Pair with this gorgeous, heartbreaking performance of Rootless Tree by Damien Rice, the very essence of bitter: