The rediscovery of Carmenère is an extraordinary story. It was originally a Bordeaux variety, thought to be all but extinct until tests revealed that many growers in Chile were preserving it, inadvertently, thinking the grapes in their vineyards were Merlot!
The truth was discovered in the mid-1990s, along with the realization of how well-suited Carmenère was to Chile's climate. The grape now makes some of the country's most distinctive wines. It is also grown in Italy and California, and a tiny amount remains in Bordeaux.
While still often blended with over varieties, there are plenty of delicious single varietal wines. These tend to be full-bodied and similar to Merlot, but with a greater intensity of dark fruit and a peppery, spicy character.
The wines typically produce firm and fruity flavors of dark cherry and raspberry with a spicy, peppery quality.