What is Carménère?

Carménère is a red grape variety originally from Bordeaux. Today it is far more closely associated with Chile where, after recovering from a case of mistaken identity, it has become something of a flagship.

What does Carménère taste like?

Carménère combines plumply textured red fruit with more savoury flavours of spice, coffee and often a distinctive green bell pepper character. In cooler sites, a leafy character can become dominant.

Where is Carménère from?

Carménère originated in Bordeaux as a genetic offspring of Cabernet Franc. It was widely planted in the Médoc during the 18th century but after phylloxera, a wine pest, devastated Bordeaux’s vineyards in the 1860s, Carménère was generally replaced with the more disease-resistant, earlier ripening Merlot.

Where does Carménère grow?

Carménère can still be found in its native Bordeaux, but quantities are tiny and usually restricted to a minor blending role. Today the grape’s main home is Chile, where it thrives especially in the warmer regions of Colchagua and Maipo. In 1994, it was discovered that much Chilean Merlot was actually Carménère. Similarly, much of the Cabernet Franc grown in northern Italy has now been identified as Carménère. As Cabernet Gernischt the variety has a significant presence in China. There are also small plantings of Carménère in Argentina, Washington State, California, South Africa and New Zealand.

Famous Carménère regions:

  • Colchagua, Rapel & Maipo, Chile
  • Ningxia, China
  • Veneto, Italy

Anything else?

Carménère takes its name from the French “carmin”, meaning “crimson” in reference to the deep red colour of its leaves in autumn.

Our selection of great Carménère

  •  De Martino, Maipo, Chile
  • Concha y Toro, Cachapoal, Chile
  •  Inama, Veneto, Italy

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