Considered the lost red grape of Bordeaux, the Carmenère vine was all but wiped out when Phylloxera attacked the wine regions of France. Additionally, the grape is sensitive to too much moisture, especially during the cold season which lead to mildews and failure to flower. For these reasons the grape was presumed to be extinct.
However all was not lost! Years later, the grape has been found in the vineyards of Chile, Australia and California interplanted with Merlot which it resembles. It is also thought to be the grape Biturica that was celebrated by the Romans.
Carmenére produces a medium bodied wine with a deep red color and flavors of spices and red fruits. It has softer tannins than some of its Bordeaux brethren and considered a wine to be drunk young.
Hearty is a word to describe the kinds of foods that match well with Carmenère. Steaks or lamb particularly with a spicy chimichurri sauce work well, as do the complex flavors of ratatouille, Indian curries or rich sausages. If matching with cheese, choose a complex aged selection or blue cheese like Stilton.