The destiny of Carménère was to leave Bordeaux. Though related to every other Bordeaux grape it couldn’t stand the insects and rain and found a better life far away - in Chile. It was a lucky escape too: becoming almost extinct elsewhere, it wasn’t till 1994 that Chile realised many of its oldest Merlot vines were in fact the infinitely less popular Carménère. By that time however Carménère had come into its own, Chile’s dry heat making it more complete and satisfying: its Cabernet-like tannins ripened better while its Merlot-like plumpness made fuller, richer wines. Such examples are now Chile’s flagship - and the variety’s classic expression - with New World plantings outside America being almost as rare as they now are in Bordeaux.
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