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Carmenere ,
Try matching with rustic dishes such as beef bourginon, cassoulet and stews.
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One of the not so weird but certainly wonderful varietals is Carmenere. It also happens to be one of my favourites.

Carmenere has a very interesting history. It dates back to the early 18th century having been widely planted in Médoc, Bordeaux.  It tends to be a vigorous grape varietal and had produced some nice wines but was somewhat abandoned by the French because of the small amount of grapes that it would ultimately produce. The vines flower copious amounts in the spring but as the berries start to develop the vines cannot cope and drop a lot of the berries therefore producing very small yields.

It is thought the cuttings from the vines were taken from Bordeaux to Chile and planted in the 18th century. For hundreds of years this varietal has been mistaken for Merlot in Chile until in 1994 it was noticed that the young leaves of the “Merlot" were not in fact Merlot. After extensive DNA testing it has been discovered that these were in fact Carmenere. The underside of a young Carmenere grape leaf displays a slightly reddish colour where the underside of the Merlot grape leaf is considered white.  It is as recent as 1998 that producers have identified that between 60-90 percent of vines in Chile are actually Carmenere.

Not only have the new findings been discovered in Chile but vave also shown up in Italy. Figures show that there are over 4000 hectares of vines thought to have been planted as Cabernet Franc but are actually Carmenere.

The wine itself displays wonderful rich, green bell pepper nuances, blackberry, blackcurrant and plum flauvors. It is usually rich and full-bodied. Imagine Merlot on steroids...weird and wonderful!

Carmenere can be found in most Chilean wine sections in good wine stores. Notable stockists are: Henderson Wines, Appellation Wines, and Great Grog. Prices range from £6.50 and up.

(S.Ramsay, W'est Solutions)


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