Carmenère helped make the reputations of many great châteaux of Bordeaux, but it was difficult to grow and gave low yields. Relatively little was replanted, but before it had been uprooted from Bordeaux in the late 1800s, Carmenère had already made the trip to South America along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The protected environment of Chile makes it a fruit grower’s paradise. Isolated by the Andes to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the world’s driest desert to the north, it has escaped the hazards of mildew and Phylloxera. There is little requirement to spray against disease and therefore Chile’s vines have remained ungrafted since the Spanish conquistadores planted the first vineyards in the mid 16th century.
This unique grape variety brought over from France prior to the 1860's found its niche in Chile, and has become nearly extinct in other parts of the world. The old vines of Apalta and surrounding Colchagua Valley is the variety’s best known stronghold. It makes supple, medium-bodied wine with a spicy burst of green peppercorn and ripe red fruit.
A great match for spicy sauces, strong cheeses and red meats. The inclusion of Carmenère in a blend brings restraint to the exuberance of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a robust and slightly earthy character, which creates a classic Bordeaux-like structure with more prominent tannins and greater complexity. Perhaps this was how Bordeaux tasted in the early 1800s?