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The Carmenère Grape


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About Carmenère

(Synonyms: Bordo, Cabernelle, Carbouet, Cabernet Gernicht, Cabernet Gernischet, Cabernet Gernischt, Cabernet Shelongzhu, Carbonet, Carbouet, Caremenelle, Carménègre, Carménère, Carmeneyre, Grosse Vidure)

Background

Map showing Chile

Carmenère is a red-wine grape originating in Bordeaux, but now grown almost exclusively in Chile (chiefly in the Colchagua Valley, Rapel Valley, and Maipo Province). It is generally considered one of the dozen and a half or so of world-class red-wine grapes.

In Bordeaux, Carmenère was, and to a small extent still is, one of the minor blending grapes in the red-wine blends characteristic of that region. In the New World, it has achieved respect and is typically bottled as a monovarietal, or with only small admixtures of other reds. A key factor is that it needs a long, warm growing season to succeed: Bordeaux lacks that, but Chile does not. Chile “inherited” the varietal from French emigrés who brought cuttings over in the 19th century. For a long time, those were mistakenly thought to be Merlot, but genetic analysis corrected the error and led to the grape’s resurgence as a premier varietal.

Its qualities are broadly similar to those of its Bordeaux “stablemates”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Its chief distinguishing characteristic is a smoky, dusty quality; its fruit tends to be “darker”, and it is fairly light on tannins.

Tasters regularly report two broad styles, which might crudely be called “good” and “bad”. The grape seems always to have a bit of green-pepper taste; the distinction is whether that is an accent (good) or dominates (bad). Even the same vintner can produce lines of both kinds in a given year.

Note: the original spelling of the grape and wine is Carmenère, and we use that throughout; but more and more nowadays, it is being rendered without the accents as just “Carmenere” (or sometimes with two accents: Carménère).

Factoid: Carmenère might be the Biturica, an valued grape in ancient Rome and the name by which what is now the city of Bordeaux was then known.

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Some Descriptions of Carmenère Wines

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Some Carmenères to Try

(About this list.)

Alcance Gran Reserva Carmenère

• 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



Montes “Alpha” Carmenère

• 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



Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre Apalta Vineyard” Carmenère
(They bottle several Carmenères; this is the “Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard” bottling; it is not quite 100% Carmenère.)

• 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



Errazuriz “Max” Reserva Carmenère
(There is also a more expensive “single-vineyard“ 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



Vina San Pedro “1865 Single Vineyard” Carmenère

• 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

The wines available at reasonable prices are of sufficient quality that there really isn’t anything sufficiently better as to justify a “splurge” price.

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