Carmenere 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. Carmenere fell from favour partly because of its susceptibility to the disease coulure, which can lead to problems with flowering and fruit set.
In Chile 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 and confirmed with DNA Analysis until the 1990s.
As it turned out the Carmenere grape variety had 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, in his book Viticulture and Environment puts the Carmenere into Maturity Group 7. It ripens mid to late season, along with varieties such as Grenache, Nebbiolo and Petit Verdot. Carmenere is therefore suited to warmer wine regions.
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