Mysterious Wine: Carmenere

The history of Chilean wine began approximately 500 years ago with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors. They were the ones that introduced wine made of Vitis Vinifera (Common Grape Vine) to Catholic mass rituals.

Although Spain dominated wine plantations for centuries, the French mostly influenced Chilean wine culture. After independence, they started introducing some new wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and many others. These wines were the cornerstones of the modern wine industry in Chile.

“Lost Grape of Bordeaux”

Ruta del Vino, Valle de Colchagua

Ruta del Vino, Valle de Colchagua – photo by Martin Edwards, courtesy of Gentileza de Turismo Chile

At the end of the 20th century they realized that the distinctive taste of Merlot was actually a unique and supposedly extinct variety of wine called Carmenere. This wine tastes like a mix of berry fruits and spice (black pepper), with smooth and well-rounded tannins. Its grapes are a deeper, darker and more purple color than any other red grapes. They cultivate them in the central valleys of Chile, the world’s largest plantation of its kind. Due to its origins in the Bordeaux region of France, the Carmenere grape varietal is often referred to as the “Lost Grape of Bordeaux”. 

If you are interested in visiting some of the vineyards, you can find several options at this link. En route to Chile, you can try a selection of fine Chilean wines on a LAN Airlines flight in the Premium Business class cabin. Great South American wines are also served in Economy class. Their wines are selected by Master Sommelier, Hector Vergara. To view the current Premium Business wine list, please click here.

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