Carménère is yet another grape that was eventually exiled from the Bordeaux blend. In the late 1800s, Carménère was brought over to Chile from France, and it never turned back. For a while, Chilean growers thought this grape was Merlot and labeled their wines as such. But in the early nineties, thanks to DNA testing, vineyards were revisited and the grapes correctly labeled, and Carménère was discovered to be the backbone of many Chilean wines. You can still find plantings of Carménère in France, as well as a few other wine-growing regions, but you’ll find most bottlings of this variety in Chile. With Carménère, Chileans are producing wines with good, plummy fruit, like Merlot, and firm structure, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape kicks in a heady dose of pepper and spice, which helps distinguish it from other varietals in Chile.
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