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The Carignan Grape


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About Carignan

(Synonyms: Bovale di Spagna, Bovale Grande, Bovale Mannu, Carignan Noir, Carignane, Carignano, Cariñano, Cariñena, Crujillón, Mazuela, Mazuelo, Mollard, Samsó, & many more.)

Background

Map showing modern-day Aragón. Map showing the area of the Kingdom of Aragón.

Carignan is a red-wine grape probably originating in the Aragón region of Spain, where it is known by the name of Mazuelo. Initially spread through and beyond the then-extensive kingdom of Aragón (shown at the right), it is today widely grown across the world, with especial emphasis in France, Italy, and California. In France, long its bastion, it is slowly diminishing in significance and acreage, because it was long regarded as a quantity-over-quality grape. In recent years, however, modern winemakers in several nations have revived interest in the variety by producing some excellent wines.

(It has long been a belief of ours that there is virtually no vitis vinifera grape that cannot produce excellent wines if enought care is taken in the vineyard and the vinifying—though often the cost of the effort needed will surpass the potential returns in what is, after all, a business.)

In France, plantings of Carignan are mostly limited to the warm Mediterranean climates of southern France, due to the grape’s inability to sufficiently ripen much further north in the continental climate of central France or in the damp maritime climate of Southwest France. In Spain, overall acreage has dropped considerably, but the Catalan wine region of Priorat has been home to much of the modern revival of the variety. Italy does not have major plantings, but there is some reportedly excellent work being done in Sardinia. The other Old-World Carignan center is north Africa, where Frence immigrants had great success with it despite the hot climate; today, they, too, are turning from quantity to quality, with some encouraging results. In the U.S. (where, for some reason, the grape is called Carignane), efforts also have turned the former cheapo jug-wine grape into some good-quality production. (Washington State also now has some plantings.)

A typical well-made Carignan—to the extent that there is such a thing as “typical”—

Factoid: Excess French production of Carignan was considered one of the main reasons for Europe’s “wine lake”; the unfortunate grape was also a substantial element of jug-wine production in California.

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Some Descriptions of Carignan Wines

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Some Carignans to Try

(About this list.)

Odfjell “Orzada” Carignan
(From Chile.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Domaine Lafage “Tessellae” Vieilles Vignes Carignan
(From Côtes du Roussillon, France.
Make sure you’re looking at their Tessellae Carignan, not their “Tessellae Rouge”.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Maitia “Weon” Carignan
(From Chile.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Sella & Mosca “Terre Rare” Riserva Carignan
(From Sardinia; this is not their “Riserva” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Santadi “Grotta Rossa” Carignan
(From Sardinia.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Clos Manyetes “Vi de Vila Gratallops”, from the Priorat region of Spain. (The label of this wine seems to change: it has also been known as “Clos Mogador Manyetes Vi de Vila Gratallops”, among other things.) In some vintages, it is 100% Cariñena (Carignan), in others it can be cut with as much as 30% Garnacha Herbal. But it is always well regarded. Expensive, but apparently worth it if you can manage the price.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.