In the spirit of the fall and upcoming cooler months, we are featuring an excellent wine for the season. We hope you enjoy this article, all about Carmenere.
Carmenere is a red grape varietal that originated in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, it was commonly used as a blending grape to make bordelaise wines up until the late 1800’s. Due to the phylloxera outbreak of that time Carmenere was thought to be completely wiped of the face of the Earth, however it is alive and well today, albeit by accident.
During the 1850’s the French exported many different types of vines to Chile to be planted, the Carmenere vines that were planted were thought to be Merlot due to their similar characteristics. It was not until 1994 that DNA samples were taken and the “Merlot” vines were proven to be Carmenere. Chilean farmers and winemakers accidently have become the saviors of the varietal.
The Carmenere grape thrives in a warm climate, with a long growing season, this helps achieve a nice balance of sugars, acidity and tannins. The Maipo Valley of Chile is perfect for this, with its diurnal temperature swings, abundant sunlight and low rainfall.
Being a lover of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is no surprise that I love Carmenere as well. Tres Palacios Reserve Carmenere is one of my favorites, especially for the price. I find that most Carmenere’s in the $10 to $12 price range can be overly jammy without good balance, but not Tres Palacios. This wine has beautiful plum and berry aromas mixed with just the right amount of earth and spice. The palate is fresh and well balanced with ripe fruit and elegant tannins, the finish is smooth with spice oak components. This wine pairs well with meat and hearty casserole dishes.