grape is a wine grape
variety originally planted in the Médoc
region of Bordeaux
, where it was used to produce deep red wines
and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot
A member of the Cabernet family of grapes, the name "Carménère" originates from the French word for crimson (carmin) after the hue of the grape in fall. The grape is also known as Grande Vidure, a historic Bordeaux synonym, although current European Union regulations prohibit Chilean imports under this name into the EU. Along with Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit verdot, Carménère is considered part of the original six noble grapes of Bordeaux, France.
Now rarely found in France, the world's largest area planted with this variety is in Chile in South America, with more than 4,000 Hectares (2006) cultivated in the Central Valley. As such, Chile produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today and as the Chilean wine industry grows, more experimentation is being carried out on Carménère's potential as a blending grape, especially with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Carménère is also grown in Italy's Eastern Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions and in smaller quantities in the California and Walla Walla regions of the United States.
In Australia, 3 cuttings of Carmenère were imported from Chile by renowned viticultural expert Dr Richard Smart in the late 1990s. After 2 years in quarantine, only 1 survived the heat treatment to eliminate viruses and was micro-propagated (segments of individual buds grown on nutrient gel) and field grown by Narromine Vine Nursery. The first vines from the nursery were planted in 2002 by Amietta Vineyard and Winery in the Moorabool Valley (Geelong, Victoria) who use Carmenère in their Angels' Share blend.