Carmenere grape variety in Australia

Carmenere is a red wine variety which was once popular in the Medoc District in Bordeaux. It fell from favour because of its susceptibility to the disease coulure.

Like Petit Verdot, Carmenere is now quite uncommon in Bordeaux but it shows promise in the new world. Nowadays this variety most commonly grown in Chile where many vineyards have found that the vines they thought were Merlot were in fact Carmenere. The vines were imported to Chile from Bordeaux in the nineteenth century and the mistake was not discovered until the 1990s.

As it turned out the Carmenere grape variety has shown it is capable of producing high quality red wine, so many Chilean wineries have stuck with it. This story has echoes of the Sangiovese/Carnelian mix up in Western Australia, and the more recent fiasco involving Albarino and Savagnin in Australia

Gladstones puts the Carmenere into Maturity group 7, which means it ripens mid to late season, along with varieties such as Grenache, Nebbiolo and Petit Verdot.

Australian wineries using this variety

  • Amietta Vineyard Geelong
  • Brown Brothers King Valley
  • Chateau Mildura Murray Darling
  • Lethbridge Geelong
  • Macquarie Grove Vineyards Western Plains
  • Olssens of Watervale Clare Valley
  • Red Earth Estate Western Plains
  • Ten Miles East Adelaide Hills

The future of Carmenere

There is some interest by Australian winemakers in this variety both as material for blending as is done by Amietta and Olssens, or as a straight varietal wine. The next few years will see if there is likely to be sustainable interest.

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