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Originally one of the 6 approved Bordeaux blending varietals, Carménère came close to extinction with the outbreak of phylloxera in 1880's France. Luckily, prior to this, some enterprising or perhaps incompetent nursery, delivered a ship load of Merlot cuttings to Chile, some of which were actually Carménère.
150 years went by, Chilean vignerons growing and vinifying this very peculiar 'Chilean Merlot'. Eventually in the mid 90's Dr. Richard Smart solved the riddle by DNA testing the vines. Huzzah, Carménère rediscovered.
Simply described Carménère lands mid way between a Merlot and a Cabernet. Whereas Merlot is low key and soft, Carménère shares a similar roundness and mouth feel, with a sharpness and tannic structure close to a Cabernet Sauvignon. It tends to be medium bodied and shows beautiful smoky, spicy and earthy aromas.
After a good few years of learning how to grow this grape, and worries of commercial self harm, Hugh and Missy Jones of Humis Vineyard are pleased to say they are getting a handle on growing Carménère in the Heathcote region, finding the long dry growing season, rich deep well drained soil and the low disease pressure of the Colbinabbin Plain to be an ideal match to the variety.
The current vintage is electric purple in colour, conveys aromas of green herbs and dark berry fruits. Boysenberry, blueberry and blackberry flavours come with undertones of green herbs, vanilla and liquorice, and shows a complex flavour profile that opens up over the course of a meal.
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