Carignan red wine variety

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Carignan is the variety most responsible for the fabled 'European Wine Lake'. It's modern home is the South of France, particularly the Midi, but it seems likely the variety may have originated in the Spanish province of Aragon.

Carignan in Australia

Carignan was once much more popular in Australia. It seems to have a had a role in some of the wine we once called claret, often blended with such varieties as Shiraz, Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvedre. Little of it seems to have survived the vine pulls of the 1980s when there was a glut of ordinary red wine in Australia. I am not aware of anyone producing a varietal wine from it in Australia.

Carignan is a high yielding variety; it can produce up to 10 tons per acre, but this seems to be one of its only virtues.

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Corbiere Vineyards Near Durban, Languedoc where Carignan is the dominant variety
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It became very popular after the independence of Algeria meant that France needed a source of grapes to make vin ordinaire. That need has long since passed as the market demands quality rather than quantity in its wine these days.

Compare Prices of Carignan Wines

Use this link to find online and physical stores near you who stock Carignan wine. You can read reviews and compare prices.
Carignan wines are now in retreat but some winemakers headed by John Bojanowski of Clos du Gravillas wines in St. Jean de Minervois, Languedoc have started the Carignan Renaissance. They hope to reverse the trend of ripping out Carignan and replacing it with the ubiquitous Merlot. More strength to their arm I say!

Another initiative is World Carignan Day to be held on 29 February 2012. As well as details of events on the day their homepage contains a list of international resources about the Carignan variety.

In the US they call the variety Carignane perhaps because the extra 'e' gives its name a little pseudo-French sophistication. In Italy it is Carignano, and in Spain Carinena. Other synonyms include Bois Dur, Catalan, Tinto Mazuella, Monestel and Rousillonen. There is a white mutation Carignan Blanc that is used in the Roussillon region.

Carignan is most commonly used as a blending material for dry red wines but it is also used in blends or alone for rose and for fortified wines. It brings a certain earthiness to these wines along with flavours like black olives or dark plums.

Australian Wineries using this variety include

Angoves Winery Riverland | Cascabel McLaren Vale | Happs Margaret River | Kabminye Wines Barossa Valley | Seppletsfield Barossa Valley | Smallfry Wines Barossa Valley | Spinifex Barossa Valley | Tomfoolery Barossa Valley | Wanderer Wines Yarra Valley | Yangarra Estate McLaren Vale

What Do You Know about Carignan?

I'm sure that Carignan is used more widely as a minor player in blends, particularly in its former stronghold of South Australia. If you know of anyone using the variety, or have an opinion about Carignan, please share your information via the Readers advice page of this site.

Carignan and Food Pairing

Carignan wines are often characterised by high acidity and tannins, hence they call for rich rustic dishes. Toulouse sausages, cassoulet, Morrocan lamb tagine or grilled pork chops might go well with Carignan dry red wine. Evan Goldstein claims there is an affinity between sweet fortified wines and chocolate (especially dark chocolate) based desserts.

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Carignan day International Carignan Day
29 Feb 2012

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