Carmenere is a grape that died out in France and has most recently come to prominence as Chile’s go-to red wine grape. I have yet to have a bad Carmenere from Chile; they are cheap and reliable. Flavor-wise, I would say that they are a little earthy, a little smoky, and have a bit of baking chocolate flavor. They are ripe, and do not have that eucalyptus flavor of Chilean Cabernet.
The best Carmenere, however, that I have had comes from (of all places) the Veneto in Italy. I have always enjoyed Inama’s basic Soave; it is a great everyday white. Soave, next to Chablis, suffered the most in reputation after having its good name pilfered by jug wine producers in California. (The upper-end Soaves from Inama are a little to oaky and buttery for my taste; they would please California Chardonnay drinkers.)
The Carmenere Piu is a new addition to Inama’s lineup of reds. It is mostly Carmenere, with the balance about 20% Merlot and 5% of an obscure, indigenous red grape (Raboso Veronese). Definitely a modern-styled wine, it is big and rich. I think it appeals to both new and old-world drinkers, though, because it has some complexity, a mid-palate, and a finish. You wouldn’t be disappointed by putting a case away for a few years. And you should be able to find it for about 20 bucks.