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Carménère – A Case of Mistaken Identity

Carménère – Chile’s Signature Grape

The story of Carménère (pronounced “car-men-nair”) is quite unique. Native to France, Carménère was one of the original six red varieties of Bordeaux and was best known for its use in Bordeaux blends. This changed in the late 1860s when the phylloxera plague devastated French vineyards and destroyed all of the Carménère plantings. In the vineyards of Bordeaux, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties were favoured and following the plague, these varieties were replanted. Carménère, following this, was thought to be extinct.

Half a world away, when the Old World thought Carménère was lost forever, the grape was thriving in Chile.  But… no one knew it was Carménère. Cuttings had been taken from some French vineyards and the vines were mistaken for Merlot. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the case of mistaken identity was discovered. It flourished in this climate thanks to the sparse rainfall and the hot daytime temperatures of the region.

Today, Carménère is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina.

Carménère Tama Anakena

The Anakena vineyard is located at the foot of the Andes Mountain Ridge in Alto Cachapoal Valley. Here, wines are created with the characteristic of New World elegance – innovative while staying true to its origins.

Anakena’s Carménère shows blackcurrant, plum and dark chocolate aromas perfectly balanced with the characteristic herbal green peppercorn note. Rich and fruity on the palate, this wine has a tremendous velvety finish.

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Ratatouille

Thank you to Epicurious for this great recipe!

What’s Cooking with Carménère?

Carménère’s higher acidity and medium tannins make it a super choice for a variety of dishes but we have selected a dish that will compliment its herbaceous and peppery character.

“There’s nothing warmer and more inviting than a piping hot ratatouille, fresh out of the oven!”

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • a 3/4-pound eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 small zucchini, scrubbed, quartered lengthwise, and cut into thin slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 pound small ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

How to Make It

  • In a large skillet cook the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened.
  • Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking.
  • Add the eggplant and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.
  • Stir in the zucchini and the bell pepper and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the oregano, the thyme, the coriander, the fennel seeds, the salt, and pepper to taste and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the basil and combine the mixture well.

The ratatouille may be made 1 day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.

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