The Carmenet (pronounced Car-mah-nay) brand has been around for a while, but just recently became part of the Bronco Wine Company portfolio. Perhaps you haven’t heard of the Bronco Wine Company, but you’ve probably heard of some of their wines. They are best known for producing Charles Shaw wines, known by many as “Two Buck Chuck” at Trader Joe’s, but they have over 50 brands in their portfolio. They are one of the largest wine companies in the US. The company is owned by the Franzia Family but ironically, the Franzia wine brand is not owned by Bronco.
From what I know of him, CEO Fred Franzia is one of the most interesting people in the wine business. There was a great article about Franzia in Inc. Magazine a couple years ago. He is definitely a savvy businessman and I respect him for that. I also admire his individualism, as I’ve been known to be an independent thinker myself. To many, he’s a controversial figure. He seems to be a straight shooter who doesn’t hold back his opinions no matter what you think. One of those opinions is that most wine producers charge too much. Now that’s music to my ears.
While there are aspects about Fred Franzia and the Bronco Wine Company that earn my admiration, I’d be lying if I said I was a full-fledged fan. Although I’m on a quest for inexpensive wine, I am skeptical that you can create good wine that is that cheap. I’ve tried the Two Buck Chuck and it hasn’t made my “favorites” list.
Not all of the wine that Bronco produces is $2-3, in fact this Carmenet Merlot sells for around $11. Nonetheless, I had my fair share of skepticism before I tasted this wine, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Plum, blueberry and black pepper make a nice bouquet on the nose of this wine. It lacks some intensity and there could be a touch more complexity, but it is enjoyable. The palate is filled with fresh fruit flavors, including plum, blueberry and blackberry. There’s a green apple twist that hits the mid-palate and lingers into the surprisingly long finish. Green apple is not a flavor I expect to find in a Merlot, but at the same time it didn’t seem out of place. The fruit qualities are quite enjoyable in this wine. Silky tannins also give this Merlot a satisfying mouth feel.
I like this Merlot a lot.
Wine: Carmenet Vintner’s Collection