Carmenere: Chilean Red Wine

Carmenère is Chile’s fifth largest production fine grape variety, comprising 10% of red grape vineyard planted area and 7% of total. Originally from France’s Bordeaux, this late-ripening variety performs exceptionally well in Chile’s dry, warm climates, as it requires these conditions to reach full ripeness. Further, since carmenère production has faded in France, Chile is virtually the sole source of wines made from this special grape.

Carmenère is definitely one of our favorites. At its best, it delivers smooth full-bodied wines, packed with huge fruit and savory, spicy notes; flavors include herbs, bell pepper, smoke, coffee, blackcurrants, leather, and tobacco. Acidity levels are low and it is best consumed young. While there are certainly varietally-produced versions, carmenère-based wines often incorporate small amounts of other grape varieties — cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot — to provide structure and acidity.

Map of Chile’s wine regions

Map of Chile’s wine regions

Best regions for carmenere

Look for these regions to find the best expressions of Carmenere.

  • Cachapoal (Peumo sub-area)
  • Colchagua (Apalta sub-area)
  • Maipo (Isla de Maipo sub-area)
  • Maule (Cauquenes and Empedradosub-areas).

Learn about the wines of Chile with Approach Guides wine app for iPhone and iPad. The app profiles all of Chile’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages, giving you everything you need to know to choose a wine that meets your preferences.