Carmenere

Carmenere is a red wine grape that hails from the mountainous regions of Chile. For ages people believed Carmenere to be the same grape as merlot and so continued to plant new vines throughout Chile in the same fields as merlot. This confusion continued up until 1996 when this grape was officially recognized as a separate species by the Chilean authorities

Carmenere was originally imported to Chile from Bordeaux. The leaves look very similar to merlot except that they are red underneath and have a longer point. Few vines of carmenere remain in Bordeaux where it originated. There are also rumors of a few old vines in California and Northern Italy but Chile really has the bulk of this grape. The fertile soils and low rain of the Chilean mountains suit this grape well.

Too much rain or poor soil can cause the green pepper to dominate the flavor of this wine. Carmenere also becomes overly alcoholic if the season is too hot. Overall Carmenere is rather finicky, not only in the vineyard but also in the cellar. It is prone to bacterial infection, oxidation, and reduction.

The basic flavors of a well made Carmenere tend to be blackberries, black plum and spices. This wine has the great tendency to be sweet and fruity as long as the green pepper flavor does not dominate. Along with the fruity side it exhibits great savory flavors like coffee, grilled meats, celery, and soy sauce.

Some of the best producers out of Chile are Carmen, Concha y Toro, Los Robles, Terra Andina, and Veramonte. There is not very much Carmenere coming out of other countries. In Europe you may occasionally see this grape labeled as Grand Vidure, which is actually a historical name for Bordeaux blends. However, since Chile recognized this grape officially there are not many synonyms or local names being used.

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