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Wine with Carmenere grapes

by | Apr 28, 2016

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The Carmenere grape is a wine grape that is grown in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France.

Wine with Carmenere grapes

These grapes produce deep red wines and are occasionally used for blending purposes too.

A member of the Cabernet family of grapes,‘Carmere’ originates from Carmin that in French means crimson colour; this is the same coulr as that of autumn foliage observed in France. This is also known as Grande Vidure, a popular French synonym.

Now rarely found in France, the world’s largest area planted with this variety is in Chile, South America.

As such, Chile is Carmenere’s largest wine producer and supplier and modern technologies have allowed Chilean winemakers to experiment with a lot of other blends and grapes to produce unique wine mixtures especially with popular grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Origins and history

The Carmenere has its origins in Bordeaux, France where it existed since ancient times.

It is almost impossible to find Carménère wines in the country today, as a Phylloxera plague in 1867 nearly destroyed all the vineyards in Europe, resulting in a notion that Carmenere got extinct.

It was only later that these grapes were grown but there were periods of struggle for the farmers because of low yields.

Carmenere is also an ancient grape variety that has been thought to be the same as Biturica, the ancient Roman vine that even Pliny praised. Said to be originated in Iberia, Spain, it probably moved to the Italian peninsula and found its way to Tuscany where its still popularly known as ‘Predicato di Biturica’.

During the period of plague, its rebirth led to it being transported to Chilean shores where it found a new and a safe homeland.

Thanks to Chile’s minimal rainfall climate, the country now produces the largest quantities of Carmenere.

These grapes are also found in overseas lands of Italy, California, Australia as well as New Zealand due to the suitable climates these places offer.

In Italy, the Carmenere is found in regions of Sardinia, Veneto among others like Garda, Monti Lessini and Riviera del Brento.

One of the finest Carmenere wineries is Ca’ del Bosco winery where they first bought Carmenere from a French nursery.


Carmenere is favourable only in warm climates. The performance of Carmenere is very poor during heavy rainfall and excessive irrigation, specifically in those regions that need water.

The result could be that farmers at times supply too much water to the vines.

Over-watering exaggerates the herbaceous elements thus giving a green wine and gives a green wine with syrup-level sugar content.

Attention is required when relating Carmenere with the Merlot grape. DNA analysis has shown very close relation to the Merlot variety that has confused winemakers for centuries.

Recent research shows distinct marks between the two. Carmenere has a reddish hue leaves while Merlot has whitish leaves.

The latter also ripens two to three weeks earlier than Carmenere and the former has bigger central lobes on its leaves.

Their harvesting periods also differ with the Merlot being fruitier than Carmenere and an earlier picking results in green pepper flavour.

Thus, although they are directly related, distinction needs become very important.

Carmenere characteristics

Camenere has a gentle tannin and skin structure. It possesses deep red colour that gives the aromas of red fruits, spices and berries.

These wines are mostly used for blending purposes but they do have their own bottles, for example, the Errazuriz wine from Chile.

When produced from optimal ripeness, these grapes give a very fruity flavour added with smoky, earthy notes.

Normally tasting it will give off the vibes of dark chocolate, combined with tobacco and leather.

Overly fermented Carmenere is almost herbaceous and extremely strong flavoured, so it’s best to consume when fresh.

Complementary foods

Carmenere wines are usually very fruity and sugary in flavour. Some of them even possess bitter flavours of tobacco and dark chocolate mixed with a tinge of sweetness.

On what basis are the wines consumed purely depends on the food item being consumed with it.
Usually taken with light diets, these wines are also used in cooking and baking in several cakes and desserts.

Italian pastas and risottos go very well with it.


Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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