terrains & wineyards
The bunch of grapes consists of sparse, roundish berries of varying size.
The pulp is juicy covered by a very tough, blue-black waxy skin.
The skin, if chewed, has a taste reminiscent of grass which is also found in the wine.
Carmenère: finally on the market with its original name.
Thanks to the Italian decree dated December 22, 2010, the Carmenère variety received official recognition as both a Lison-Pramaggiore and Piave controlled designation of origin (DOC).
This important development follows another recent one of the official recognition of the Carmenère grape, an old Bordeaux variety that arrived in northeast Italy together with the Cabernet Franc in the 1800s and was immediately confused with and assimilated into this latter variety.
In 1991, the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura (Viticulture and Wine-making Research Institute) in Conegliano clarified the identity of the Carmenère that had long been called the "Italian Cabernet Franc".
In addition, it was not only prohibited by law to use this grape to make wine with its name given on the label, but even to cultivate grapes by this name.
Today, in its homeland of France, the Carmenère is almost completely forgotten, although it is already well-known in Chile and California and is diffuse in Italy, especially in the Veneto area.
Unquestionably, as for Cabernet, Carmenère derives from the Vitis biturica which arrived in the area of Bordeaux during the Roman period, although Pliny the Elder (in 71 AD) reports that it was cultivated in the current area of Bordeaux by the Bituriges Celtic tribe, while just a bit earlier, Columella states that it came from Durrës (Albania) and he knew of its cultivation in various areas of Iberia (Spain), in particular in what is now Rioja.
Within the mixed Cabernet family, in the 1800s in Bordeaux, France, two varieties stood out and even had their own name – Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc group. Among these Cabernets, as confirmed by studies carried out in France in the beginning of the 20th century (Ampélographie by P.Viala and V.Vermorel, 1905), was the Carmenère variety which was identifiable thanks to a number of morphological and, above all, organoleptic characteristics of its grape.
What distinguished Carmenère from Cabernet was its larger and sparser clusters, growth, low fertility, aroma and more intense color of its grapes (Ampélographie Universelle by P. Odart, 1849).
But imported into Italy together with other Cabernets – probably around the year 1820 – it was mistaken for a degenerated and weaker form of Cabernet Franc.
As a result, in the Veneto and Friuli regions where it is quite common, this variety became for ampelographs, scholars and growers the prototype of the Cabernet Franc.
During the 1960s, Prof. Antonio Calò and Prof. Carmine Liuni studied what was known as Cabernet Franc in the Veneto region, comparing it with imported French collections of Cabernet Franc cultivated in that country and the differences between the two varieties began to emerge. At the time, these diversities were attributed to variations in clones and, for propagation purposes they were divided (incorrectly) into a French-type Cabernet Franc and an Italian-type Cabernet Franc, which would later prove to be Carmenère.
It was the ampelographic studies and, above all, modern chemical analysis of the grapes and wine performed between 1988 and 1991 at the Institute Sperimentale di Viticoltura in Susegana by professors Calò, Di Stefano and Costacurta, that brought to light enough diversities as to lead to the belief that the French and Italian clones were probably two different varieties.
Confirmation of this discovery came with the entry of Carmenère into the register of vine varieties, resolving any doubts and opening the way for this new wine of which northeast Italy is now the cradle of its cultivation.