Carménère Wines – Great Grapes with an Interesting History

Long enjoyed in the ancient world, Carménère fell by the wayside and was even thought extinct.  But a recent revival has helped make it one of the most sought after grape varieties in modern wine making.

One of the most ancient European varieties, Carménère is thought to be the antecedent of other better-known varieties; some consider the grape to be “a long-established clone of Cabernet Sauvignon.” It is possible that the variety name is an alias for what is actually the Vidure, a local Bordeaux name for a Cabernet Sauvignon clone once thought to be the grape from which all red Bordeaux varieties originated. There have also been suggestions that Carménère may be Biturica, a vine praised in ancient Rome and also the name by which the city of Bordeaux was known during that era. This ancient variety originated in Iberia(modern-day Spain and Portugal), according to Pliny the Elder; indeed, it is currently a popular blending variety with Sangiovese in Tuscany called “Predicato di Biturica”

carmenere grapes

The Carménère grape has known origins in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France and was also widely planted in the Graves until the vines were struck with oidium. It is almost impossible to find Carménère wines in France today, as a Phylloxera plague in 1867 nearly destroyed all the vineyards of Europe, afflicting the Carménère grapevines in particular such that for many years the grape was presumed extinct. When the vineyards were replanted, growers could not replant Carménère as it was extremely hard to find and more difficult to grow than other grape varieties common to Bordeaux. The region’s damp, chilly spring weather gave rise to coulure, “a condition endemic to certain vines in climates which have marginal, sometimes cool, wet springs”, which prevented the vine’s buds from flowering. Yields were lower than other varieties and the crops were rarely healthy; consequently wine growers chose more versatile and less coulure-susceptible grapes when replanting the vines and Carménère planting was progressively abandoned.

Liquor Barn currently has a variety of world-class Carménères for you to try!

Lucky 7 Carmenere:

A unique wine that is almost black in color, with hints of exotic spices and long velvety finish. Ideal with Texmex or spicy food.

Root: 1 Carmenere:

Deep red color with gentle tannins and rich flavors of plum, blackberry and spice.

Food Pairings: Root: 1 Carmenere pairs well with pasta, vegetable soup, spicy entrees and grilled meats. Its unique character pairs perfectly with ingredients that are difficult to match such as garlic, bell peppers, fresh herbs and eggplant.

Lapostolle Casa Grande Carmenere:

Casa Grand Selection Carmenere hails from Chile’s central semi-arid Rapel Valley. Here, the Pacific’s Humboldt Current keeps the days warm and dry, and the nights cool, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly. Natural, unhurried maturation guarantees that our Carmenère is able to fully mature, yet maintain its unique, fresh notes. The grapes are hand-harvested and transported to the winery in temperature-controlled containers. Strict quality control continues at the winery through a state of the art optical berry selector, Vistalys, which chooses only the freshest and purest grapes for our wine. To extract structure and color, the grapes were macerated up to 4 weeks, during which the fermentation lasted 2 weeks in stainless steel tanks utilizing native yeast. To add complexity, yet maintain the natural expression of the fruit, 21% of the wine was aged in French Oak barrels after fermentation. A dash of Merlot and Syrah supplements more red fruit and roundness to the spiciness of our Casa Grand Selection Carmenere. Delectable when paired with pastas, pork or grilled red meats.

Apaltagua Reserva Carmenere:

An intense wine, wild purple in color. From start to finish, the touches of tobacco, and red and black cherries intermingle, producing a great potency in the mouth. It possesses a generous body with smooth and friendly tannins. It is a well-rounded wine with a juicy and lingering finish.

120 Carmenere:

The 120 Carménère is an illustrative variety of Chilean wines, dominated by aromas of black and red fruits and spices. Its silky, deep tannins make it very easy to drink, and very versatile to pair with a broad diversity of foods.

Arenal Carmenere:

Intensely dark and violet in color with bold, sweet, floral aromas of blackberry and earthy plum which combine with peppery spiciness. In the mouth, it is ripe, structured, and surprisingly complex, with a terrific softness on the palate.

Anderra Carmenere:

Dense purple color with violet streaks. Black currant and blackberry aromas open up to reveal bright strawberry and cherry notes, and a subtle spicy character. A touch of vanilla oak complements the fruit and the ripe, sweet finish.

The flag carrier of Chilean grape varieties, Carmenere is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina. Carmenere is a very late-ripening varietal, and ours is a true expression of how juicy and round this varietal can be when ripened properly. It’s also notable for its elegance and complexity.

Food pairing
Savory dishes, like earthy stews; spicy dishes, like braised short ribs, chile con carne, Texas ribs, or steak au poivre.