Carmen Wines Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Rediscovery of Carmenère in Carmen’s Estate Vineyard

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Carmen, Chile’s oldest winery, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the rediscovery of Carmenère, a varietal that has come to exemplify Chile’s proud wine heritage.

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As Chile’s oldest winery and the place of Carmenère’s rediscovery, Carmen has taken a leadership role within the Chilean wine industry in maximizing the varietal’s nuanced qualities through innovative winemaking techniques.

Carmen, Chile’s oldest winery, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the rediscovery of Carmenère, a varietal that has come to exemplify Chile’s proud wine heritage. Thought to be extinct, the treasured grape was rediscovered on November 24, 1994 in one of Carmen’s estate vineyards. The rediscovery of Carmenère has helped to define Chile’s reputation around the world for distinctive wines.

While Carmenère is wildly popular in Chile, it is still relatively undiscovered in the United States. Similar to Cabernet Sauvignon in structure, but with the soft roundness of a Merlot, Carmenère is often enjoyed at festive Chilean dinners with steak and other grilled meats.

Carmen was founded in 1850. In the vineyard, Carmenère looks a lot like Merlot, so as Chile’s wine industry evolved, Carmenère was often confused with Merlot – which eventually led to the thought that the Carmenère grape had phased out especially after Phylloxera attacked Bordeaux, France in the mid-19th century. Then, on November 24, 1994, French ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot visited Chile and rediscovered the long-lost varietal in one of Carmen’s estate vineyards.

As Chile’s oldest winery and the place of Carmenère’s rediscovery, Carmen has taken a leadership role within the Chilean wine industry in maximizing the varietal’s nuanced qualities through innovative winemaking techniques. Carmen winemaker Sebastián Labbé, who studied in New Zealand and worked in Australia, brings international expertise to his craft. Labbé has married the integrity and authenticity of Chile’s oldest winery with modern innovations to intensify the quality of Carmen Gran Reserva wines.

With Labbé’s deliberate and thoughtful practices, Carmen Gran Reserva has pioneered the evolution of the Carmenère grape into what is now considered to be Chile’s signature wine. Carmen’s estate vineyards are farmed using sustainable practices and Labbé has led a strategic effort to significantly lower Carmen’s yields, dramatically enhancing the quality and intensity of the fruit. He focuses on smaller parcels of land within Carmen’s estate vineyards, where the terroir is especially expressive and produces wines of distinctive character.

The 20th anniversary of Carmenère’s rediscovery occurs just as most Americans are making the all-important annual decision of which wine to serve for Thanksgiving. Labbé feels that Carmen’s 2011 vintage is the best expression of Carmenère yet and an effortless selection for the holidays.

“The 2011 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenère is a wonderful choice for Thanksgiving,” notes Labbé. “The structure and acidity of our Carmenère stand up to the traditionally rich dishes and bold flavors of Thanksgiving.”

Carmen’s 2011 Gran Reserva Carmenère was born in the winery’s “Los Peñascos” vineyard, a name which means “the rocks,” a nod to the rocky soils where Carmenère thrives. The 2011 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenère was cultivated and harvested entirely by hand in the Apalta Valley, a smaller, elite valley within Chile’s Colchagua Valley – which is renowned as the country’s premiere grape-growing region. After fermenting in stainless steel tanks, the wine was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. It is dense and concentrated with an intense dark color. The nose is rich and shows ripe berries, sweet spices, tobacco and earthy aromas. Soft touches of anise and paprika add complexity. Carmen’s 2011 Gran Reserva Carmenère is readily available at most shops across the country and retails for less than $20, making it an easy choice for Thanksgiving, family dinners and festive holiday celebrations.

In the U.S., Carmen wines are part of the Trinchero Family Estates diverse portfolio of wines and spirits which includes wines from California, Washington, Oregon, France, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Chile and New Zealand. Trinchero formed the collaboration with Claro Group Wineries, leading producer of premium wines in South America and owner of Doña Paula winery of Argentina and Carmen winery of Chile, in 2011.

About Carmen Wines and Trinchero Family Estates
Carmen is a leading Chilean premium winery, exporting to more than 50 countries around the world. Carmen is imported, marketed and sold in the U.S. by Trinchero Family Estates (TFE), family-owned in Napa Valley since 1948. TFE’s portfolio includes more than 40 brands such as Sutter Home, Trinchero Napa Valley, Napa Cellars, Terra d’Oro, Montevina, Trinity Oaks, Folie à Deux, Duck Commander Wines, and the number one alcohol-removed wine, Fre. TFE markets and sells Joel Gott Wines; Bandit, Newman’s Own, and The SHOW. TFE’s import portfolio also includes Angove Wines from Australia; Doña Paula Wines from Argentina; Avissi Prosecco from Italy; Shatter Wines from France; Echo Bay from New Zealand; Sugar Island Caribbean Rum; and CRUZ and Tres Agaves Tequilas from Mexico. Visit http://www.carmen.com to learn more.

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TFE PR Contacts:
Nora Feeley, Public Relations Director
707-963-5928 ext. 2160 / Cell 303-589-4860
nfeeley(at)tfewines(dot)com

Carissa Abazia, Public Relations Manager
707-963-5928 ext. 2610 / Cell 707-321-7019
cabazia(at)tfewines(dot)com

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Nora Feeley
Trinchero Family Estates
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