Home > Carménère, Grapes, wine quiz > Weekly Wine Quiz #83: Grape Trivia – Carménère

Weekly Wine Quiz #83: Grape Trivia – Carménère

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
Carménère grapes. Source: Wikipedia

Carménère grapes. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus again on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Carménère.

Let’s start with pre-quiz before the quiz. Class, how many of you heard of the Carménère grape, raise your hands. Ok, now, how many of you tasted the Carménère wines, raise your hands. Okay, those of you who raised their hand twice, can probably skip directly to the main quiz, and for the rest of us, lets talk about Carménère.

When it comes to the Bordeaux, everybody knows five main grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Truth of the matter is that it is actually six – and Carménère is that grape number six. Until the Phylloxera epidemic of the 1870s in France, Carménère was probably one of the leading grapes in Bordeaux. Carménère is related to the Cabernet family, it most likely predates both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was probably the driving force behind power and finesse of Claret of the 1800s and even before. However, Carménère is a difficult grape to work with – it ripens two to three weeks later than Merlot, and it is susceptible to the viticultural hazard called coulure – the condition when in the cold spring the buds will fail to turn into the flowers. It also doesn’t graft on the new rootstock very easily. So the combination these issues lead to the situation that after the Phylloxera epidemic, the grape was practically not replanted back in Bordeaux, and it was literally considered extinct (it exists today in France, but in the extremely low quantities).

During the 1850s, a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot cuttings made it to Chile – both in legal and probably illegal ways. For the long time, Chilean winemakers were wondering, why some of their Merlot plantings  ripen so late compare to the others, and have a different flavor profile – those grapes where considered to be a specific Chilean Merlot clone. Until in 1994 it was discovered that Chilean Merlot is actually a … Carménère! Carménère made it to Chile in 1850s as part of those Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot cuttings, and it happened to strive in the warm and dry climate. Today, Chile has almost 9,000 hectares planted with Carménère, and it is widely considered one of the best wines Chile can produce.

When ripen properly, Carménère produces excellent powerful wines with the fruit profile somewhat similar to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but with very present herbal and spicy component of sage, pepper, eucalyptus and even menthol.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Explain the name of the grape Carménère

Q2:Similar to Merlot/Carménère confusion in Chile, the discovery was recently made in one of the well known old world wine producing countries – the grape they thought was ___, actually happened to be a Carménère. Name the grape, the country, and the region within this country where confusion took place.

Q3: As the sequel to the previous question – the confusion also spread into the New Wolrd winemaking country. Name the grape been mistaken and the country.

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Carménère-based wines rated in the Classic category

Q5: Name three grapes, often blended together with Carménère.

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

  1. PSsquared
    November 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    I’ve had some Carmenere wines that I really like, so you’ve pulled me into this quiz, too. You’re sneaky! 🙂

    OK, here goes:
    1. from the french word for crimson, based on the color of the fall foliage
    2. Italy, they thought they were getting Cab Franc
    3. New Zealand, Cab Franc again
    4. I think so, a 2008 Chilean wine.
    5. Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot

    • talkavino
      November 24, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Wow, Patty, this is an outstanding work! My answers are coming on Wednesday

  2. November 24, 2013 at 12:32 am

    I have tasted some Carmenere, mostly from Chile. But I have not studied too much about it. So I am not going to try to answer the questions because I will be tempted to Google. LOL.
    Somehow I like them slightly aged. Excellent post.

    • talkavino
      November 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

      Thank you! Using Google is totally fine – and answering only a few questions is fine too!

  3. November 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I did a piece on it when it was WBW single vineyard month. Enjoyed the wine and your piece.

    • talkavino
      November 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

      Thanks, Alissa! Good Carmenere is usually quite distinct and very enjoyable.

  4. November 27, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Hope I’m not late! I haven’t tasted 100% carmenere but some chilean wines I’ve drunk might have jus that, who knows? 🙂 I will look out for one.

    1. Crimson colour of its foilage in fall, derived from French word
    2. Cab franc, Italy, Veneto?
    3. Cab franc, New Zealand
    4. False – pure guess
    5. Cab Sauv, Cab frac, Merlot


    • talkavino
      November 27, 2013 at 7:21 am

      Great job! You barely made it on time, but you made it : )

  1. November 27, 2013 at 8:00 am
  2. November 30, 2013 at 9:04 am
  3. June 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

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