Is there a grape more underrated than Old Vine Carignan? We’ve been working with it for about 6 vintages, and year after year it routinely delivers delicious wine. I would go as far to say that the new 2018 vintage is not only the best vintage of Carignan we’ve produced, but one of my favorite reds we’ve ever released! For whatever reason though, Carignan it isn’t a grape you hear about… So what is it and why is it so delicious?
Well, Carignan was brought to the States by European immigrants in the early 1900s and was primarily used as a blending grape. In the genesis of America’s wine industry, there wasn’t a lot of fancy technology available to manipulate wine. Instead, farmers and winemakers had to work hard in the vineyard to achieve the flavors they wanted. They co-planted a variety of grapes together to inspire complexity and develop balance in the finished wine. Carignan was typically co-planted with Zinfandel, adding brightness and freshness to otherwise jammy wines.
Some of these old vineyards still exist, and are producing amazing fruit. Carignan is unique in that it dramatically changes as the vines mature. Young Carignan vines produce lighter bodied wines that are good for blending. However as the vines age, they become less vigorous with low yields and high concentration. This means powerful wines with amazing depth and complexity!
Sadly, there are not many of these old vine vineyards left… Many were ripped up when Cabernet and Pinot became popular, as most people were unaware of how good Carignan can be. Luckily, we found an amazing Old Vine Carignan vineyard in Amador County that produces beautiful, luscious fruit that doesn’t need blended at all!
The new vintage has the perfect balance of old vine intensity and refreshing acidity that is the hallmark of the varietal. Black raspberry and other dark red fruit aromas burst from the glass! With a silky smooth mouthfeel, this Carignan is rich and satisfying with plenty of density on the palate. Of course, we made it completely naturally without sulfites or other additives, so it still has a terrific freshness and drinkability.