Often called the lost grape of Bordeaux because it used to be one of the grapes that could be made into a red Bordeaux blend, this variety virtually disappeared from France. It showed up in Chile about 1990 when ampelographers determined that Chilean Merlot, which was traditionally quite spicy and green peppery was actually Carmenere.
While many Chileans ripped up their Carmenere vines, some persevered and turned it into what is, arguably, Chile’s signature grape variety. Careful work in the vineyard and later picking is required to tame the variety’s naturally high pyrazines, which give a noticeable green pepper or tomato leaf aroma. Carmenere gives wines of deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is usually medium-bodied.
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