Romantically Rediscovered: Carmenère Month Celebrates the Resurgence of the Chilean Wine Varietal


For over 100 years, the French Bordeaux varietal known as Carmenère was thought to be extinct, only to be rediscovered in 1994, that it was, in fact, alive and well in Chile.

The story is straight out of a vinicultural fairytale. It begins in Chile in the mid-1800s, where the grape was first introduced by the French. Shortly thereafter, it was labeled extinct following an epidemic that swept through European Carmenère plantations. Fast forward to the year 1994 and enter French Ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot. While he was carefully evaluating vines and grapes that he was innocently told were Merlot, a sinking suspicion crept into his mind.

His gut did not steer him wrong. He became known for making the joyous discovery that these Merlot grapes were in fact Carmenère. Subsequently, Carmenère was back on the wine scene after many years if living an undercover existence.