The Barbecue Special: 2007 Inacayal Carmenere

(Sing along, now):Heading out to San Francisco, for the Labor Day Weekend show. (Okay, stop singing) I don’t know anything about Hush Puppies, but Labor Day weekend is always special for me; Birthdayfest and all. To many, it signifies the end of summer, but let’s face it, there are 3 weeks left! That leaves plenty of time for more outdoor activities … and more barbecues! If you live locally, you know we have well over 3 weeks of summer left. With so many more opportunities to fire up that barbecue, you all may be interested in a great, inexpensive wine to accompany the festival of the grill. Not only have we uncovered a dynamite deal from the southern hemisphere, but it’s a GREAT barbecue wine to boot!

We’ve had some good fortune resulting from taking a little time to peruse close-out lists over the last few years. If we can find you all a great wine at an insane price, why not, right? Well, we’ve done it again! If you like bold, full-bodied red wines with silky tannins and just the right amount of spice, then read on. The 2007 Inacayal Carmenère comes to us via ye olde close-out list. We had the 2005 for a very short time, and it sold out quickly for $20. The 2007 is here now, and is $16 if you want a bottle … or the case price is, get this, less than $14!!!

A little bit about the grape. Carmenère is originally from Bordeaux. It was ever present in the Médoc in the early 18th century, and a property’s reputation was heightened if Carmenère was in its vineyard. After many years of producing excellent wine, the grape fell out of favor because of its susceptibility to coulure, or the falling off of the berries shortly after flowering. Think of it as a cross between Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; it combines the friendliness of the former with the weight of the latter. It has certainly found a home these days in Chile, where Carmenère was discovered in the early 1990’s among vines that were thought to be Merlot. It is believed that these vines were imported directly from Bordeaux in the late 19th century. Well, apparently, some of those vines made their way over the mountains to Argentina as well. You won’t see as many Argentine Carmenères out there as you will Chilean (they have their own Bordeaux stow-away, Malbec.), but don’t miss this one.

It has been reported here in the past that I’m a huge fan of Bruce Hill’s Picco Restaurant in Larkspur, and recently, I brought a bottle of the 2007 Inacayal Carmenère with me and sat down at the bar. Their GM had left for the night, but I sat down for a quick bite and placed the bottle upon the bar. The manager on duty came over to say hello, and I asked him if he wanted to taste the Carmenère. He was surprised to see that it was from Argentina. He returned quickly with a wine-key and 2 glasses. I cut the foil and pulled out the cork, poured out a couple of tastes and what followed was magical. Double takes, big smiles, and a resounding “Wow!” were his reactions. I asked him if it would be okay to pour tastes for the bartenders and servers; no problem. Again, what followed was more than I could have expected. Tons of praise from all members of the staff, and a request to pour a few more tastes for a trio of patrons seated to my left. More praise. More smiles. More “Wow!’s”. It seemed the gent to my immediate left owned/managed a restaurant in downtown San Rafael, The Lighthouse. When I told him the price, he got serious. “Please come and pour this for me at the restaurant the next time you have a bottle open.” I have, and they are now pouring it by the glass. As I was finishing up my late night bite at Picco, one of the servers approached me and asked if I could set aside a case for him because, “That’s going to be my barbecue wine”. His words. I had to pull what little was left out of the Dirty Dozen last month in case of reorders. We have some great DD cutomers who came in recently inquiring about additional Carmenère. We were able to provide an emergency ration for them, but just so you all know, it’s back in stock.

Back in stock for a short time, that is. It will sell out again. It’s that dang good! Don’t worry, more is on the way.

I hope you’re all having a great Labor Day weekend, no matter what you’re doing. Picnics, barbecues, spending time with loved ones, catching a sporting event or a live show. Just please be safe. Me? Just continuing the fest here. I’m not one to do much planning, but there are a couple things on the immediate calendar that I’m looking forward to very much. Have a safe and Happy Labor Day!Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to email me with any questions or comments on Carmenère, Labor Day, Birthdayfest, or footy: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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Filed under Barbecue Wine, Carmenere, Peter Zavialoff

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