We got an eLetter from an online wine dealer the other day touting a Chilean Carmenére that scored 90 points (Wine Advocate) and cost only $14.80. It was a Vina Perez Cruz Carmenére Reserva Limited Edition 2006.
It reminded me that one of our favorite wines in the wine cellar (the cool area under the basement stairs) was a very inexpensive Carmenére.
You might not have heard of the grape. We certainly hadn't until we read an ad in the New York Times. It's mostly grown in Chile these days, but it was originally one of the grapes grown to make world-class Bordeaux wine in France.
You have to be careful buying Carmenére. You can pay a lot, but our thinking is that if you're going to spend $70 for a bottle of wine (we don't), why not buy a really good bottle of something else? And if you buy a cheap Carmenére, you can get burned.
We discovered it because a couple of years ago when the New York Times reviewed Carmenéres, its winner cost $70, but the second-best was a $10 bottle from the Colchagua Valley in Chile, which just happens to be one of our can't-miss wine valleys.
We actually found the wine, MontGras 2007 Carmenére online for less than $8, so we bought a case. It scored 90 points in Wine Enthusiast and 89 points in Wine Advocate. And the 2008 version scored even better at $10-$12 a bottle.