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The Beginners Guide to Carmenere

Welcome to this month's edition of #worldwinetravel. We are talking about a grape that originally began n Bordeaux but we are going to focus on another part of the world that grows this grape.  Chile. Carmenere needs high levels of sunshine and a warm to hot summer. Chile produces deep red wines with a mix of the tastes of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

It's no surprise that there are similarities between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as DNA studies have shown that all three grapes have Cabernet Franc as their parent.

In the mid-18th century, Carmenere was an important grape and was planted throughout the Medoc area. When the phylloxera louse hit the area in the 1860s the Carmenere grape was given up when more resistant rootstocks from Missouri were introduced.

Chilean winemakers took cuttings of Carmenere thinking it was Merlot. This mistake may have saved the grape from extinction.  It is now the #1 grade in Chile.  Again, DNA research found that the grape was Carmenere instead of Merlot, and the grape's popularity soared.

Dominant flavors are dark red fruits such as raspberry and plum, green pepper and peppercorns, and vanilla.  There are notes of minerality.  The body and tannins are similar to Merlot. It's an excellent wine for daily food pairing well with roasted,  meats, and less fatty meats, and generally a good wine to go with many foods. The price point is from $12-40, making it a good choice overall.

Things to be aware of when purchasing Carmenere wines:

    Carmenere wines almost always contain about 10-15% of other grapes such as Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    The best vintages are 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013.

    The richer, less acidic wines come from the Andes areas. These are more elegant wines.

I chose Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley to taste test for this event. I found dark fruit flavors of blueberries and plums, baking spices, and dark chocolate. It is a full-body wine with great tannins.  Some mineral finish with chocolate.

We paired this dish with a mushroom risotto made with meaty trumpet mushrooms and mini bellas topped with seared scallops. What a divine dish!  The Carmenere went beautifully with this rich dish and we will definitely try it again.  Unfortunately, my husband did not write down what he did to make this so we don't have a recipe to share.  I'll update the post after he makes it again!

What else are we talking about this weekend with Carmenere? Check out the posts below!

#WorldWineTravel Writers on Carmenere

Here are the links to the articles the #WorldWineTravel Writers will be sharing! 

 Camilla Mann of Culinary Cam will share "Carménère: Two Shades and Two Continents."
Terri Steffes of Our Good Life shares "The Beginner's Guide to Carmenere" 
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Churrasco and Carménère; A Perfect Match Martin Redmond of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog shares Delving Into The Rich World of Chilean Carménère. 
David Crowley of Cooking Chat shares Pairings with Carménère from South America
Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley of Wine Predator shares From Lost to Found in Chile: 6 Carménère from 3 Regions + Chilean Beef Stew or Chimichurri Chicken 
Robin Renken at Crushed Grape Chronicles will share Chilean Carménère and Charquican to celebrate Carmenere Day.

Would you like to comment?

  1. I am very glad they mistook the carmenere for merlot. It is a lovely wine

  2. That dish looks amazing! I'll look forward to the recipe when he makes it again. Amazing that he just threw this together! I'm so glad you could join us Terri!

  3. Sharon Parsons2:50 PM

    So enjoying this wonderful guide to Carmenere . CHEERS!! Sharon

  4. Carmenere with mushrooms was a great match! Yours looks delicious.

  5. Anonymous3:04 PM

    A wonderful overview of the Carmenere's journey from France to Chile Terri! I'm digging your pairing as well!


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