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Carignan

Although the Carignan grape variety takes its name from the town of Cariñena in the Spanish province of Zaragoza, it is mainly grown in France. Carignan produces robust wines with a fruity aroma and crisp acidity. It is mostly found in blends, for example blended with Tempranillo in Rioja wines.
Carignan originated in Spain.

Carignan – an unsung grape variety

Although Carignan’s most important growing region is in southern France, in all probability this grape variety originated in Aragon. The parent varieties of the crossing are unknown. It is called Carignano in Italy, and Cariñena or Mazuela in Spain. Its most common name is Carignan, after the Spanish town of Cariñena. This vine has a long viticultural tradition in Aragon, from where it spread all over Europe in the 12th century.
After Grenache, it is the second most widely planted red wine grape in the world. As it produces very large yields, for many years it was regarded as a mass market grape and was consequently not very popular among wine connoisseurs. Today Carignan has largely shed its reputation as a second-rate wine as skilful winemakers who apply strict quality standards show that it is perfectly possible to achieve excellent results with the Carignan grape variety.
Carignan produces wines with an intense red colour. Its high acidity and tannin content lend it a certain hardness which sometimes overshadows its less intense aroma. Consequently, although this grape is prized for giving blends more structure, single-varietal Carignan wines are a rarity. Carefully grown and vinified grapes can however produce characterful wines. It boasts fruity aromas of plums, cherries and figs. With time, the wines gain in finesse and the high acidity and tannins become more harmonious. The grapes thrive best on infertile soils and on old grapevines. Rigorous yield restriction also works wonders. The result is wines capable of developing with age, preferably in barriques. Sardinia provides the best conditions. The Carignanos vinified on this island achieve a high level of quality and are recognized as DOC wines.

Cultivation of the Carignan grape variety

Carignan vines have distinctive large, deeply sinuated leaves with five lobes. The tight, slightly conical clusters of grapes are shouldered and bear medium-sized bluish-black berries with a thick skin. The vine is vigorous and high-yielding. Because of its high must weight, yield restriction is essential. Carignan ripens a full 30 days after Chasselas, making it one of the most late-ripening varieties. This grape thrives especially well in a mediterranean climate on poor, dry soils with a high proportion of sandstone and gravel, for example.
France has the biggest growing areas for Carignan. Top of the league is the Languedoc-Roussillon winegrowing region where around a third of vineyard hectarage is planted with Carignan. The hot dry summers and mild winters in this region stretching along the coast from Montpellier to the Spanish border provide ideal growing conditions. Along with red and rosé wines, Carignan is also used to make a speciality of Roussillon province: the bittersweet aperitif Byrrh. Further vineyards may be found in Provence and other parts of southeastern France. In France the Carignan grape is primarily used in red wine blends. The variety is also essential for the AOC wines of Coteaux du Languedoc, Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and others. It is most frequently blended with Syrah,, Mourvèdre and Grenache.Italy is also a major player in the cultivation of the Carignan grape variety. In terms of quality, Sardinian wines are especially notable. There is certainly nothing mass-produced about wines made with Carignan in Sardinia. Among others, Carignan is a component of Campidano di Terralba and Mandrolisai controlled designation of origin (DOC) wines. Taste-wise, the single-varietal DOC wine Carignano del Sulcis is most impressive.Spain also still has extensive plantings of this variety. As well as in its homeland of Aragon, Carignan grows in the regions of Rioja, Catalonia and La Mancha. Plantings overseas are also steadily rising. With around 80,000 hectares, the US state of Washington boasts the world’s largest area planted with this vine. The variety is also immensely popular in California, Chile, Israel and Mexico.Discover single varietals and wonderful blends from all over the world. Buy outstanding wines at Mondovino and in Coop stores.