One of the most critically disparaged grapes in the world (Wine of the Week)

By: Lauren Voigt

Over the next few months, I’ll be exploring a new wine each week as part of “Wine of the week” class assignment for the Wine Professional course I’m currently enrolled in at Saint Paul College. JOIN ME! And if you’ve tried it — let me know what you think of this variety in the comments below.


Carignan: “one of the most critically disparaged grapes in the world” — or at least, according to this guy.  The low-hanging fruit so to speak, vines are being torn out and replaced with other varieties, and what remains is primarily relegated to use as a blending grape.

Either I’ve got crappy taste in wine  — or perhaps some of these anti-Carignan folks are wrong… I enjoyed this wine.

Lacking the “umami” and “spice” Wine Folly mentioned I might find, this one was a gleaming pale garnet, with youthful fresh berry notes.  Blackberry, black cherry, and the essence of a flower garden fresh from rain.  Off-dry, light in body, lively acidity and weak, but astringent tannin gave it a backbone.  I’d sum this one up as “jammy” and serve it to anyone who enjoys a “fruity red”.

One lesson I’m trying to learn, is to evaluate the wine not for what I think (or have read) it could be, but for what it was.  I read this variety can have some really earthy, animal funk.  The one I had — not at all!

One aspect that could account for the style is the winemaking technique – carbonic maceration. With this winemaking technique, whole clusters of grapes undergo fermentation without being pressed (essentially, dropped into the tank and literally crush themselves with their own weight). This results in a lighter, often more fruit-forward wine style.

2015 Mount Gravet Carignan
~$11, available at Thomas Liquors (Saint Paul), Solo Vino (Saint Paul)

The long (and nerdy) version of my tasting notes:
Pale ruby color. Moderate aroma intensity with notes of blackberry, black cherry, and something reminiscent of a forest floor fresh from rain (green, not earthy). Off-dry, light body, lively acidity, and weak but astringent tannins. Overall, “jammy” with a long finish.


What do you think of Carignan?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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