Carini Alicante Bouschet A2B 2013

carini-a2bAlicante Bouschet. That’s a grape. How many have tried it? Tried a 100% monovarietal bottling? That’s what I thought.

This hybrid of Grenache and another grape you’ve likely never heard of was created in France, but widely-planted in California during Prohibition, mostly because it could be shipped to the East Coast (for home winemaking purposes) due to its thick skin and resistance to rot.

Enter Carini, no stranger to odd wines in the Chairman’s program. (Remember Dubakella Six and Eleven, the blend of Pinot Noir and Grenache from vastly different vintages?) They’ve resisted the urge to replace all their Alicante Bouschet with Cabernet – like so many other Cali growers – and are still making an interesting AB wine for us to enjoy.

Currently on Chairman’s for just $12.99, I was at first tempted to merely call this a “fun little wine”, because that’s what it is on pop and pour. At this price that’s all it needs to be, a no-brainer for weekday meals, dinner parties, etc. Right out of the bottle, it’s fresh and full of dark berry fruit and violets, with a touch of caramel and some cocoa on the finish, hearty yet versatile with food. Give it some time in a decanter, however, and it shows a surprising complexity, including mulled spices, tobacco and a touch of funky earth or tar. In other words, this is a lot of wine for the price, with the ability to evolve and engage over the course of an evening.

Winemaker Andy Carini even suggests laying some down for a few years – and though I have little (i.e. no) prior experience with this grape from which to judge that suggestion – the understated complexity suggests it might just be an interesting experiment.

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