Chilean Carménère

Hello Friends,

I recently participated in the Wines of Chile Blogger Tasting, which showcased the Carménère grape variety. Instead of going into event details, let’s talk about the star of the show! Carménère is an ancient Bordeaux variety and one of the six original red Bordeaux grapes. Carménère thrived in Bordeaux until the late 19th century when the phylloxera epidemic wiped out many European vineyards. Phylloxera is a nasty little root louse that feeds on the roots of grape vines and can eventually kill the plant or cause serious damage. When European vineyards were replanted, Carménère was scarce and eventually thought to be extinct. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t keep a good grape down?” Well, thanks to DNA analysis in the early 1990’s, vines long thought to be Merlot in Chilean vineyards were actually Carménère. Chile is a unique and special wine region. The vineyards are protected by surrounding mountains, deserts, and the ocean. Unlike most of the world's major wine growing regions, Chilean vineyards have never been attacked by phylloxera.

Carménère and Curry

Chilean Carménère is typically approachable and bright with friendly tannins, a range of red to dark berry fruit flavors, a sprinkling of spice, and an almost signature herbal component that’s appealing when nuanced and subtle. Carménère is a wine that won’t break the bank and its food-friendly acidity makes it an ideal match for a wide variety of dishes (pizza, burgers, spaghetti, etc.). For my tasting, curry was the food theme, and the brighter and lighter examples of Carménère paired surprisingly well with curry-based Indian cuisine. In my personal experience with Chilean Carménère wine, I’ve found that the brighter, lighter, and approachable examples tend to be the least expensive. When the price gets near $20 and over, the wines tend to offer more structure and definition, riper/darker fruit flavors, greater depth, and noticeable barrel character/oak tones. These wines can be paired with hearty fare and strong cheeses. In closing, Chilean Carménère is alive and kicking, and – more times than not – sips nicely too. The next time you visit your local wine shop pick up a bottle or two! To learn more about Chilean wines and Carménère visit the link below and be sure to follow@DrinkChile and @WinesofChile on Twitter. Cheers!

CLICK HERE to visit the Wines of Chile website.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come!

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