Concha y Toro

Concha y Toro 07/12/2020

Wine pairings

Find out how our enologists pair a Carmenere


The Carmenere grape variety was believed extinct in the 19th century, but Chile’s geographic and weather conditions allowed it to be preserved and developed, finally taking its place as an ambassador for Chileans throughout the world thanks to its unique characteristics.

Carmenere grapes were introduced to Chile in the mid-19th century, together with a number of other Bordeaux varieties. This allowed the country to begin replacing old Spanish vines with new and noble French stock, with pride of place going to the type that was known at the time as Chilean Merlot or Late Merlot, as the grapes only began to ripen in the autumn.

Ph: Marcio Ramírez

It was not until November 24, 1994 that French wine expert Jean Michel Boursiquot, wandering through vineyards supposedly planted with Merlot in the Maipo Valley, realized that he was in the presence of an ancient and almost lost vine from the Bordeaux region: Carmenere.

Since 2014, every November 24 the rediscovery of this iconic Chilean grape variety has been celebrated – a grape that makes the country unique.

We spoke to Marcio Ramírez, who has been dubbed “Mr. Carmenere” and serves as lead enologist for Carmín de Peumo, Terrunyo, Gran Reserva Serie Riberas, and Casillero del Diablo; he advised us to try Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada Carmenere 2018 on the grounds that it is “an extraordinary vintage: not too warm, not too cold, so the grapes ripened slowly, gradually, concentrating the flavors. It has a very intense purple color and the bouquet is rich in dark fruit, like mulberry and cherry. In the mouth, this is a very juicy wine, the kind to leave anyone asking for a refill. It combines very well with provoleta, sausages, pies, maize cake, and slow-cooked meats.”


The soil and climate of Central Chile have welcomed this grape variety as though it were born there, providing Carmenere aficionados with a violet-red wine scented with dark plums, ripe berries, and soft, friendly tannins.

We also spoke to Marcelo Papa, Technical Director at Concha y Toro and lead enologist for Amelia and Marques de Casa Concha, and asked him about the best pairings for the winemaker’s iconic Carmenere. He remarked that in his view, “the perfect accompaniment for a Carmenere is red meat in general; it also goes very well with pasta and red sauces. With mushroom risotto, jamón serrano, cured hams, and semi-hard cheeses like pecorino, for example.”


Finally, we asked Frontera enologist Mario Álvarez how he would describe Frontera Premium Carmenere. The noted that the wine “has a bouquet of fresh fruit combined with spices and tobacco, with soft, velvety tannins in the mouth and a long, elegant finish.” He advised us to pair this exceptional wine with good conversation and a selection of soft cheeses, pastas, or pork.


Try out these pairings with these excellent Carmeneres. Cheers!