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

By Kristen Oliveri

I am ChileFor 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.

Today, the Wines of Chile celebrate November 24th as National Carmenère Day, honoring a special grape with medium tannins and good acidity that makes it a breeze to pair with food. The price points for these wines are extraordinary in today’s wine market, offering elegant, drinkable wines that are accompanied with a romantic back story, perfect for dinner party banter.

What makes this wine and others like it interesting is the viniculture of the Chilean wine region. What some might see as geographic barriers, Chilean winemakers see as heavenly gifts. The region is surrounded by the Atacama Desert in the North, the Andes Mountains in the East, the ice fields of Patagonia in the South and the Pacific Ocean to the West.

So, here’s the lowdown on three Chilean wines that should be on your radar:

Ficha EnveroThe Apaltagua Gran Reserva Envero is comprised of 90% Carmenere and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes hail from the vineyards in Apalta in the Colchagua Valley. The wine itself has tasting notes of ripe blackberries, tobacco and spice. Perfect to pair with food, it is a combination of ripe fruit notes, oak and vanilla.

santa-digna-carmenereThe Santa Digna 2012 Reserva Carmenère is a deep cherry colored wine that is aged in French Oak. When tasting this wine you may sense hints of leather, spices, with touches of eucalyptus coupled with mandarin oranges. Pair this wine with bold dishes comprised of veal and beef, or spicy dishes that pack a punch.

MontesAlphaCA14The Montes Alpha Carmenère is made with selected grapes from our Colchagua Valley vineyards grown under the vineyard’s “Dry Farming” philosophy. What that means is that the winemakers allow mother nature to focus on irrigating the vines in hopes that it increases the quality of the grapes.  This bold wine produces aromas of ripe red and black fruits, reminiscent of jams and desserts. Some may also notice a hint of vanilla and coffee on their palates.







Wagstaff Worldwide


Wagstaff Worldwide is a full-service public relations firm that specializes in working with clients in all areas of the hospitality industry—from restaurants, chefs, and food products to travel and tourism destinations, as well as premium wines and spirits. Founded in 1999 by Mary Wagstaff, the company today has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Aspen.

Hanna Lee Communications

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Headquartered in New York City, Hanna Lee Communications, Inc. is an award-winning, boutique PR agency specialized in the spirits, food, wine, travel and lifestyle industries and event management. The agency only represents products and companies about which it is passionate. This outlook drives the agency’s well-acknowledged excellence.

Current clients include Bar Celona Tapas Lounge, Terra Andina Chilean Winery, The Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Lowell European-Style Yogurts, G7-Portugal Top Wineries Consortium, and The Winemakers TV Series on PBS.

Previous client experience includes Sobieski Vodka, whose “Truth in Vodka” PR campaign won recognition and awards from PRWeek for “Best Consumer Launch of the Year” (first runner-up), as well as the SABRE Awards (given by The Holmes Report based in London).

Hanna Lee
Hanna Lee Communications, Inc.
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New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 527-9969 or (212) 721-2090
Fax: (212) 721-2091


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Illegal Mezcal

A Perfect Balance of Agave, Smoke and Heat.

Traditional artisanal mezcal –Vintage, small batch and handmade — is a part of Oaxaca that links the individual and the community to the land, sun and time…

Mezcal is not a product. It is a culture.

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The New York International Spirits Competition



The New York International Spirits Competition is judged solely by qualified trade buyers who work in both on and off-premises establishments. Our judges are include the top mixologists, retail store buyers, importers and distributors in the industry.

Unlike in other competitions, New York International Spirits Competition judges blind taste spirits and base their decisions upon both category appeal and price range within the category. Therefore a tequila that retails for $38 will be judged in the $30-50 price category.

Medals are only awarded if the trade buyers will buy it for its business. All judges are volunteers and are not compensated. Our judges include the top mixologists, retail store buyers, importers and distributors in the industry.

For more information about New York International Spirits Competition, visit:

Combier USA

Since its founding in the quaint village of Saumur in 1834, Combier has remained true to its history as an independent, family-owned producer of ultra premium distilled alcoholic beverages. Hand-crafted in the very same century-old copper stills first used by the Combier family, Combier’s current portfolio includes fine liqueurs, crèmes and spirits, with its signature product being Liqueur d’Orange (Jean-Baptiste Combier invented the original orange liqueur formula, commonly known as triple sec, in 1834).

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Gourmet Latino

The first world-class, socially conscious celebration of Latin gastronomy and culture. The best Latin chefs, renowned mixologists and tastemasters come together to share the diverse foods, cocktails, wines and coffees from Latin America.