Historically, Carmenere has been difficult to grow in cold, humid climates, and, although this is one of the most ancient varieties in Bordeaux, plantings have not been maintained even in this region, let alone any other in France, or for that matter, anywhere in Europe!
Carmenere was prized in the Medoc for both its depth of color and, in ripe years, flavor that can range from herbal to gamy and add complexity and interest to blends. Carmenere requires more heat to ripen than the other varietals planted in Bordeaux. This and its erratic tendency to develop a condition called coulure, poor fruit set after flowering, may have caused CarmenуШre to fall out of favor.
Thought to be the antecedent of other better-known varietals, some think Carmenere is possibly a long-established clone of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Bordeaux synonym for Carmenere is Grand Vidure
Carmenere was imported to South America in the 1850s, along with other Bordeaux varieties, prior to the European outbreak of Phylloxera. The largest established vineyards of this variety are in Chile, although many of these were misidentified as Merlot (the two vines share many similarities) for more than a century. French ampelographer Jean Michel Bourisiquot discovered the truth in 1994.