A brief history of
Known as the “Lost Grape”, Carménère originated in the Bordeaux region of France and was used mainly for blending. Its name comes from the French word for crimson, referencing the brilliant red color the leaves turn in the fall.
In 1867, a Phylloxera epidemic struck much of Europe, devastating almost half of the vineyards in France. The Carménère vine was particularly susceptible. When the vineyards were replanted, growers could not replant Carménère as it was extremely hard to find and more difficult to grow than other grape varieties common to Bordeaux. This looked like the end for Carménère wine.
For over 100 years it was believed that the Carménère grape was extinct. However, in 1994, winemakers in Chile noticed that some vines of what they thought was Merlot were taking longer to ripen. After analysis, it was determined that these vines were not Merlot, but in fact the lost Carménère. Cuttings of Carménère vines arrived in Chile around 1850 and were thought to be Merlot. Thanks to the ideal conditions of the Chilean terroir, the Carménère vines were not only surviving, but flourishing.
The long dry summers and cool spring and autumn nights allow this particular varietal to thrive in the sandy soils of Southeastern Washington state. The grape produces a wine with red fruit flavors and notes of pepper. The lighter tannin and higher acidity in Carménère wine make it quite an easy red to pair with a large variety of dishes.
NCO Winery produces not only an excellent Carménère wine but also a lovely Rosé of Carménère. Both are available exclusively to wine club members.