Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carmenere Grape

Since yesterdays post was about the Carmenere grape, I thought I'd stray another day from the Hudson Valley Wine Region to Chile. A little education on the Carmenere grape is in order.

The Carmenere grape, the lost grape of Brodeaux traveled to Chile unexpectedly and masqueraded as Merlot. Seems in the early 18th century there were six noble grapes of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. It helped shape the grandest and most famous wine Chateaux of the region. In the late 1860's crops were devasted by phylloxera and wiped out the vineyards of Europe. When the replanting began, Carmenere proved to difficult to resurrect.

Fast forward to the 1990's. Did you ever wonder why a Merlot from Chile doesn't have the same characteristics as other Merlots. Seems that the Carmenere grape had been transplanted from France to Chile over a century ago, before the phylloxera invasion. Forgotten in Chile, the Carmenere grapes grew freely with Merlot grapes and were assumed to be Merlot until 1994. Busted!!!

In 1994 viticulturist Jean-Michael Boursiquit revealed the mistake. What was thought to be all Merlot were indeed Merlot and Carmenere. Oops! The Carmenere grapes have enhanced the Merlot of Chile for over 100 years and ads nice style and character the Oops wines.
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