I really like finding small production wines that are unique and affordable, and this certainly fit the bill. Purchased at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco for $15.99. Less than 300 cases were made of this grape that hasn't received much attention as a stand alone varietal. It doesn't have a good reputation and is known in France for its quantity and contribution to the country's "wine lake," but efforts recently have sought to bring out the best of this grape, also spelled as Carignan.
I had a bottle of wine from this grape last month (see review here).
This bottle was more complex that that one, and I got floral, sweet tar and violets on the nose. In the mouth, the flavors simplify a bit focusing on violets. It's a light wine, but very nice.
Cool label too - the bottle got recycled before I had a chance to photograph it, but it's a brown paper bag color with a drawing of what I'm guessing is a wine press. Here's the producer's Web site, which looks like it hasn't been updated in a while. Actually it says it was last updated in Autumn 2006.
Here's what the label says on the back of the bottle:
"Always a bridesmaid, never a bride...The often maligned Carignane grape has been planted in California for more than a century and mostly used for blending. When dry farmed and cropped low the grapes produces juicy, quaffable wines with flavors of coca, blueberry, and mulling spices reminiscent of the country wines of Spain and Southern France. This is such a wine... 268 cases made."
I found another bottling of Carignan from the same vineyard in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, California, by Pellegrini. I'm putting some info here about it because it gives some background on the soil where the grapes were grown and how the vines originated there:
"Located on a rocky, reddish soil bench, the old head pruned vines were planted in 1934 by the grandparents of Ric Piffero. The vineyard is composed mostly of Carignan, but is also interspersed with Zinfandel and Barbera. It is dry farmed and averages a little over two tons per acre."