Carignan has many names depending on which country you are in.
This grape variety is late-ripening, it was once so widely planted in Languedoc-Roussillon that it was France’s most planted vine, this was for much of the last century. Now it is the 5th most planted grape.
The wine industry relied on Carignan at one time in the mid 20th century, but it can seem an odd choice to many these days. As Jancis Robinson put it “Carignan is unsuitable for early consumption yet unworthy of maturation.” Surely however there must be something that attributed to the almost exclusive dissemination of Carignan throughout the 1950s and 1960s…? There was...Yield.
Although Carignan was not always a favoured choice of wine and suffered a poor reputation amongst those in the wine business. Thankfully, a few producers started to use the old vines to create the wonderfully rich, fruity-earthy Carignan wines we can find today.
“If you love the lighter-styled wines of Zinfandel, Merlot or perhaps a Côtes du Rhône blend, then Carignan should be on your radar. Since Carignan vines are naturally so productive, you’ll notice that the best Carignan wines tends to come from old vines (vieilles vignes) where the productivity of this grape is low. Wines will burst with fruit and taste rich and smooth with much lighter tannins (bitterness) than Cabernet.” Wine Folly