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Carmenere – a colourful past and a vibrant future
A tale of resilience and rediscovery
In the aftermath of the devastating Phylloxera outbreak of the 19th Century, which nearly eradicated its vineyards in Europe, Carmenere seemed destined for oblivion. However, this tenacious grape found refuge in the New World, specifically the fertile soils of Chile. Intriguingly, it was initially mistaken for Merlot due to its similar wine profile.
It wasn’t until the late 20th century that vignerons – who were trying to understand why some Merlot paddocks were producing superior wines – thought to question their clonal selections. With the assistance of researchers, they conducted DNA testing and discovered that many of the Merlot vines in Chile were in fact Carmenere. This rediscovery led to a resurgence of interest in Carmenere as a distinct grape variety – both as a single varietal and in blends.
From France to Chile to St Ignatius Vineyard
It is this, one of the most ancient European fine wine varieties, that piqued the interest of Enrique Diaz. Enrique was inspired to plant and produce Carmenere in the Victorian Pyrenees, both because of its history and versatility as a grape varietal. The specific vines used during the planting originally came from Chile and are identified as clonal selection SAVII01. The vines have prolific growth, vigorous canes and adapt well to the climate.
The history of Carmenere tells a story of resilience and rebirth. It strikes a chord with our own journey of adaptation and continual growth.
Origins of the name
Carmenere takes its name from the French word carmin, which translates to crimson. It is thought to have been inspired by the vibrant colour of the leaves during autumn (pictured below). Carmenere is part of the family of grape vine varietals that comprises Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.
When ripened properly in a warm climate, the wines are bold with a deep violet colour, high tannin, and medium to high acidity. On the nose, the wines can have notes of red and black fruits, spice, smokiness and herbs. On the palate, you can expect raspberry, dark chocolate and hints of green capsicum and paprika. These peppery aromas, a result of the grapes’ high levels of pyrazines, grant Carmenere its distinct identity. It’s a wine that leaves an indelible mark on the senses.
This wine complements a diverse range of dishes. Whether you’re relishing grilled meats, exploring savory sauces, savouring a succulent roasted chicken or sharing a cheese platter, Carmenere elevates your culinary experience.
Join us in celebrating the resurgence of this extraordinary varietal. As you raise a glass in appreciation, let the rich history and intricate flavours of this wine transport you to a realm of wonder. Here’s to the rediscovery of Carmenere – a wine whose story is just beginning, and whose allure is boundless.