Body: Medium to full
Tannin: Medium to high
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Best to drink while young. Superior blends and good varietal wines can age for several years.
Aka: Also known as Cariñena and Mazuelo in Spain.
Carignan (kar-in-YON) appears to have originated in the province of Aragon in northeast Spain and although widely grown, particularly in southern France and Spain, it is in decline today. It is a very high yielding grape, generally not considered high quality (although some would disagree with this view), and is almost exclusively used for blending.
The attractive qualities of Carignan for winemakers, other than the yield, are its deep purple color, high tannin and high acidity, each of which can be valuable blending characteristics on their own. Conversely, these same characteristics, combined with a lack of fruit flavour at high yields, usually make it too tough and bitter for production as a varietal wine.
As part of the vinification process, Carignan will often undergo carbonic maceration (see full explanation of this technique in the glossary section of the app), which increases the color, softens the astringency and brings out the fruit flavor.
Generally, it is blended with a range of major grapes, particularly Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, but also Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to produce wines that are quite robust with red and black fruit flavors and a peppery finish. These blended wines can be average in quality, but the best are excellent.
Some varietal wines are made but they are generally only good if the vines are old (50 years or more), yields are restricted and the sites are good. These full bodied wines have aromas of violets, wild herbs and red fruits, followed by flavors of cherry, raspberry and blackberry, along with spicy notes. The best can age for ten years or more.
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