Oops, what a surprise!

I’m not a “shopper”. When I have something to buy at a retail store I go in and out like an elite commando unit. Surgical strike. In. Grab the item. Go. Go. Go! It usually takes me longer to take a shower than it does to buy an item in a store.

I was at Target the other day, to pick up a two household items I was tasked to get by Mrs. Barbarian.. As I was making my way to the checkout at high speed a word in my peripheral vision caused me to stop, pause, and turn my head. What caught my eye was the word “Carmenère”. Visual pattern-matching has always been one of my minor superpowers since I was just a wee Barbarian. Remember those find the words in a square of seemingly random letters puzzles from childhood? Those things are trivial for me. The words themselves, as strong signal just seem to float above the background noise of letters for my brain. Since Petite Sirah and Carmenère seem to be my favorite varietals these days I seem to be able to “see” them even when I’m not looking for them. Even when I am beating a hasty exit from an otherwise uncomfortable situation/

I hardly step into Target more than once a year. I didn’t even know that they sold wine. But there is was, grabbing my attention. From six feet away using only 18 point type. My brain scares me sometimes.

So what is this Carmenère that stopped me in my tracks at Target? It is called “(Oops) 2007 Voluptuous Beauty”. It is a Cabernet Franc & Carmenère blend (84%/16%) from Chile’s Valle Central. The price tag said $9.34, so I figured I might as well buy it. I’ll drink anything…. once.

I brought the wine home and opened it to accompany a nice outdoor dinner of pasta and sauteed broccoli out on the deck. It was a hot evening, but breezy, so quite nice. The pasta was a four cheese ravioli in a pesto sauce. The wine surprised both Mrs. Barbarian and me. I was honestly prepared for the wine to be horrible. After all I bought it from Target! Instead we found it quite drinkable, though not a mind-blower. Just a very good, reasonably cheap red wine.

The Carmenère at only 16% of the blend was barely noticeable, though obviously there. It tasted like a rather earthy Cab Franc, just like I’d expect. Very dark in color. Certainly worth the sub-$10 price. I’ll have a look and see if I can find more examples of their product.

The label is a tad cutesy… OK it is way too cutesy… so cutesy I almost didn’t buy it. But it does tell the tale of the origins of Carmenère and how it was rediscovered in Chile after having thought to be lost. If you can overlook the cutesy marketing this is an OK wine.


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