I missed March, but I’m back for April with the long lost grape, Carménère. This grape originates from France and was thought to have gone extinct after Europe’s phylloxera plague in the mid-19th century. However, it was rediscovered in the 1990s when several Chilean vineyards found Carménère intermingled among their Merlot vines. Since then, it has become the national grape of Chile. Around the same time, Carménère was also found masquerading as Cabernet Franc in a couple of Italian vineyards.
Seeing as Carménère has been mistaken for both Merlot and Cabernet, it shares many similarities with those grapes. However, Carménère has a shorter ripening time, which usually results in less tannins and lighter body than Cab Sauv and Merlot. As such, Carménère does not require much aging. Typical fruit flavors for Carménère are raspberry and cherry. Many Carménère wines also have a vegetal flavor of green pepper, as well as smokey and/or earthy characteristics.