Exploring the Lost Grape of Bordeaux

After previewing a very nice selection of wines last week in WSET 3 class, the final blind taste assignment turned out to be a Carmenère — the lost grape of Bordeaux. Who would have thought this grape would possess such a mystique, and carry with it such an interesting history?

Related to the Cabernet family of grapes, the Carmenère share some similar characteristics in flavor and color, yet still maintain a uniqueness. They were thought to have been extinct when they disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century. But then, they somehow reappeared a hundred years later — a world away, flourishing in Chilean vineyards! Now rarely seen in France, Chile claims the Carmenère with pride, producing some impressive wines in a class of their own.

I got some mixed reviews from my peers in class, but personally, I found the Carmenère to be very interesting. I tasted a lot of robust black fruits, a light herbaceousness, figs and red hot pepper elements. To be honest, I loved the Carmerère’s spicy character — I guess it’s my hot-blooded Latina nature and the wine’s agility to pair with Latin American cuisine.

With all the recent hype surrounding Carmenère and the many countries considering growing the varietal, it seems to be a great Karma Carmenère for Chile!