March is the beginning of the harvest time in Chile and that can only mean one thing - it’s time to learn more about our Chilean grapes. 

Chile is perfect for winemakers looking for a beginner wine, dark fruit flavors, and smoky finish. 

It’s time to learn more about our favorite Chilean grapes: Malbec and Carménère.


Pronounced car-men-nair, this is Chile’s signature grape. These grapes create elegant wines that are on the cusp of international recognition and rightly deserved fame

About Carménère

Carménère hails from France where it was used in Bordeaux blends alongside its cousins: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. In fact, when Carménère was brought to Chile in the 1850s, it was mistakenly thought to be Merlot. Due in part to the similar leaves and flavors. Even though these vines turned red earlier than Merlot vines. 

Despite Carménère’s unique flavor notes and aromas of bell pepper, green peppercorns, and herbs, wine experts around the world thought the grapes were Merlot until a DNA study revealed the truth

Extinction & Rediscovery: The Rare Bordeaux 

The 1800s saw a blight of Phylloxera destroy the vineyards of Bordeaux. Wine experts thought the Carménère grapes were extinct. That is, until 1994, when French researcher Jean-Michel Boursiquot studied the Chilean “Merlot” and found its true identity. The Carménère was no longer extinct. Instead, it was thriving in Chile. 

Carménère was no longer used in Bordeaux blends. It’s now a star all its own. Chilean cuttings have since been transplanted around the world, with China, Canada, Australia, and Argentina leading the way. 

These grapes ripen late, so they do particularly well in warm climates that stretch into fall. Which makes Chile the perfect home for these red grapes. 

This November 24th, raise a glass to Carménère and celebrate its rediscovery. Salud! 

Exploring Carménère

Carménère is a great everyday wine. Its herbaceous notes are a complement to almost any meal, but it really adds to roasted meats. The medium tannins of the Carménère allow it to pair well with lighter meals. 

If you want to make a splash during the next BBQ, a bottle of Carménère will definitely help. I recommend transferring the wine to a decanter and letting it sit for an hour before serving. 

If you’re a fan of merlot, and looking for something a little different, it’s time to try Carménère. 

Carménère Profile:

Regions: Chile 

Flavors: Green peppercorns, raspberry, plum, vanilla, and green peppers

Aromas: Raspberries, cherries, green peppercorns, and granite minerals

Color: Deep ruby. Fun Fact: Carménère means crimson. 

Body: Medium

Tannis: Medium

Acidity: Medium - High

Characteristics: Herbaceous, sweet berry flavor, dry, and richly aromatic 

Carménére Pairs Great With:


This noble red grape arrived in Chile in the 1840s and 50s from the French region, Cahors. Spicy tasting notes, fruit-forward aromas, and an intense, deep purple color make the Malbec one of our favorite Chilean grapes.  

About Malbec

Like the Carménère above, while in France, winemakers used Malbec only for Bordeaux blends. Since arriving in Chile, they’ve had a chance to shine on their own.

Interestingly, since these grapes have a very thick skin, they need a lot of extra sun in order to ripen. The high altitudes and warm climate of Chile help the Malbec thrive. 

Chile’s unique geography and climate, along with Andean soil, are the perfect conditions for Malbec. These grapes make elegant, aromatic wines with silky textures and smooth tannins. 

Malbec’s earthy notes and dark fruit nose are perfect for Merlot fans looking for something a little more intense. 

A Toast To Your Health

Thanks to the Malbec's thick skin, these grapes pack a serious health punch. They contain a high level of antioxidants, resveratrol, and quercetin that are great heart health and immunity boosters.  

They’re also great for lowering inflammation, improving gut health, and increasing good cholesterol levels to lower your risk of blood clotting. With new studies linking Malbec in helping lower neurodegenerative problems and slowing down the progression of Alzheimers and dementia. 

So pour yourself a large glass of Malbec and toast to your health. Cheers!

Exploring Malbec

These grapes are great on their own or when used in blends. On its own, Malbec is known for its deep violet-colored wine and spicy flavors. 

I recommend placing a bottle in the fridge an hour before serving. Decant the wine and let it sit for another half an hour. Malbec is best served just below room temperature. 

Malbec Profile:

Regions: California, Chile, Italy, & South Africa

Flavors: Tart cherries, plums, spices, and minerals

Aromas: Plums

Color: Deep ruby red with a violet hue

Body: Full-bodied

Tannis: Smooth, rounded

Acidity: High

Characteristics: Fruit forward, earthy tones, silky mouthfeel

Malbec Pairs Great With: