Ever heard of the Carménère grape? Carménère is a black grape variety that often gives you a medium bodied red wine much like the well-known Merlot variety. For those of you that have come across Carménère before, you will probably be thinking of a Chilean wine with those plummy black fruit flavours. But Carménère wasn’t always Chile’s signature grape variety like we know it today.

The story of Carménère actually starts in Bordeaux! During the late 1800s the phylloxera infestation wiped out the Carménère vines and at this point the variety was thought to be extinct.

By the mid 1900s Merlot was making its way Chile, but it was noticed that some of these Merlot vines were taking much longer to ripen. After some DNA testing it was discovered that they weren’t Merlot at all but were actually the long lost Carménère from Bordeaux. Carménère does have some similar characteristics to Merlot, showing plum and black fruit flavours but with the addition of green bell peppers (capsicum) notes. It pairs beautifully with grilled meat, chilli or spicy dishes.

Carménère is now thriving in the warmer climates of Chile and is considered their ‘flagship’ grape of the country producing the vast majority of Carménère available today. Winemakers are exploring its potential as a single varietal wine and in blends, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon. Not surprising, given its origins in Bordeaux. 

If you haven't already, try our Siegel Carménère from Chile! On the nose, it has notes of black fruits, pepper, and light notes of toasting. In the mouth, it has smooth tannins and good persistence. Pairs well with pasta and spicy dishes!