Your Wine IQ

Carménère


International Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon   Merlot   Pinot Noir   Syrah

Major Varieties: Cabernet Franc    Grenache    Malbec    Nebbiolo    Sangiovese    Tempranillo    Zinfandel

Regional Varieties:   Baga    Barbera    Blaufränkisch    Brachetto    Carignan    Carménère    Cinsaut    Dolcetto    Gamay    Graciano    Lagrein    Malvasia Nera    Marzemino    Montepulciano    Mourvèdre    Nero d'Avola    Petit Verdot    Petite Sirah    Pinot Meunier    Pinotage    Touriga Nacional


Carménère is a French grape, but the majority of plantings are now found in South America. In Chile, it is the country's flagship grape, like Malbec is in Argentina. However, Carménère is not quite as well-known as Malbec. Carménère was popular in Bordeaux for a while, but the phylloxera epidemic killed off the grape almost entirely in France. It was rediscovered in Chile when thousands of grapes thought to be Merlot were revealed to actually be Carménère. The same thing happened in Italy, and most Carménères now come from those two places.

Wines made from the grape are of a medium-body, lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon but still powerful, and similar enough to Merlot to be confused with it. Alcohol levels are naturally 14% or more, but flavors of cherry and sometimes chocolate, tobacco, or leather will shine through. Carménère is for some reason very rarely able to age, and it is almost always drunk young.