Carignan: 6 Things you should know about this Grape Variety

The Carignan vineyards, the majority of which are planted in the Maule Valley, are a faithful representation of Chile’s winemaking heritage, and have the potential to differentiate and reinforce the quality of the national winemaking industry. 

Getting to know Carignan

Carignan vines were originally brought to Chile from southern France at the end of the 1930s and beginning of the 1940s, and were planted in the Maule Valley principally. Here are 6 facts about Carignan and its role in Chilean winemaking. 

1. Origin

Although it arrived in Chile from the south of France, this variety is originally Spanish, more specifically from Aragon, where it is known as Cariñena or Mazuelo.

2. History in Chile

There’s evidence that at least part of the Carignan vines in Chile arrived after the Chillán earthquake of 1939, with the aim of improving the quality and color of the red wines produced from País grapes, which was brought centuries before by the Spanish missionaries during colonial times.

3. The Birth of Vigno

The more recent history of Carignan includes the birth of Vigno, an organization of winemakers and grape growers whose aim is to rescue the heritage of the old-vine Carignan and its traditions, adding value to the variety. 

4. Carignan Producers 

Carignan producers are generally small producers from the Maule Valley, and are representatives of small agriculture, who are looking to pass on the traditions of their ancestors.  

5. Other uses in Winemaking 

Carignan is frequently used to add more color to wine blends and to increase acidity, but for some time now it is being used on its own, with extraordinary results. 

6. The Complexities of Carignan

This variety can mean complications for the producers. This is due to its naturally high acidity, rough tannins, and its sensitivity to powdery mildew, which requires a lot of skill and care in order to make quality wines.

You might be interested: The terroir of the Chilean vineyards.

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