VinePair: The Renaissance of Carignane

Interesting article in VinePair:

on the renaissance of Carignane in the wine world. As usual, it is characterized as a “workhorse” grape most
suitable for cheap red blends. Interesting how back in the '60’s, Zinfandel was once held in the same regard until
Ridge/DavidBruce & a few others started taking Zin seriously.

I’m not a huge fan of Carignane, though I must admit I’m finding more & more of them I like. The recent Ridges I’ve liked quite a lot.
Still, they often show a coarseness that I don’t much care for. But even in the hands of Ridge & Morgan, they just don’t measure
up to the level of quality in their Zins.
So, for now, I’m not buying into this renaissance.


1 Like


Thanks for sharing this - I meant to a few days back and just forgot. I really dig Carignane and do find it a ‘unique’ variety compared to the other ones that I work with. The vines are definitely more ‘fertile’ than other varieties and need to be tempered to come up with something that is ‘distinct’. I tend to pick mine on the less ripe side, hoping to show off the more ‘rustic’ characteristics that I love about the variety that I’ve found in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Mine is done 100% whole cluster and sees about 16 months in older French oak, clocking in at about 12.5% alcohol.

I do know of a handful of folks working with the variety in our area, but the idea of any ‘renaissance’ here in CA is probably stretching it . . .


1 Like

I think a true renaissance is a little far fetched, as who is planting or for that matter replanting Carignan? Plant this and in 60 or 70 years your grandchildren may get grapes with some real corrector doesn’t sound like a very viable enterprise.

As to the wines, I have a real love, hate relationship with these “heritage” verities and blends. It is great that as the balk producers walk away from these older vines, because the tonnage pre acre goes down and the market for bulk wine is just not what it used to be, that the growers are being saved by becoming an inexpensive source of quality fruit for up and coming wine makers. And I would almost always rather an $8 to $10 glass of one of these wines then what passes for Chardonnay, Cabernet & Pinot at the same price. The issue I have is, not unique to California, but is very much a California problem, that this is not were many of these wines are priced.

There are great little chillable or spicy briery rustic reds, and crushable whites from California for $10 to $18 or even up to $22 to enjoy with friends on a lazy Saturday, but they are very few and not the easiest for most consumers to find. These same style wines in the $25 to $60 range made from Carignan, Petite Sirah, Mataro, Zinfandel or all and more, or whites and Roses from as many or more lesser known grapes are very easy to come by. So for many consumers the choices are, pay more then they are comfortable with, drink crap or look elsewhere.

1 Like

Thanks for bringing this article to my attention, Tom! [cheers.gif]

There’s a Carignan Renaissance going on, you say?





1 Like

I think there are great variations of Carignane within California. Desire Lines makes a very refined example from Evangehlo and I’ve also greatly enjoyed Carignane from Sandlands (also Coco, I believe).

1 Like

I have loved Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs, which I believe both have some Carignane in them. These are my favorite California “Zinfandels” although I cannot say that it is the presence of Carignane in the blend that makes them so.

A few years ago, I visited a winery in Israel called Somek and really liked their Carignan. Gave me new respect for the grape.

1 Like

Carignane has been part of ‘mixed black’ blocks for over a hundred years. It was and continues to be part of these blends because (a) it adds color to other varieties that may not have deep color, (2) it crops pretty heavily compared to other varieties, (3) it has thick, durable skins that can handle all different types of climates and (4) it tends to ripen later but still retain some great acidityf.


I am a big fan of carignane and seek them out. Many seem to be fermented carbonicly the past few years, but I would prefer not.

1 Like