We’ve been making Walla Walla Carmenère from Seven Hills Vineyard since our first vintage in 2002. Renowned wine writer, Paul Gregutt, hailed the 2006 Reininger Carmenère as making “a strong claim for being the best Carmenère in Washington, if not the country.”
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Known as the “Lost Bordeaux,” Carménère once thrived in France but was devastated by phylloxera in the 1860s. Thought to be extinct, Carménère was discovered in Chile in the 1990s, and made its way to Walla Walla in 1997.
The nose of our 2017 Carmenère tells me this vintage will be a classic Carmenère with spicy aromas of white pepper, currant, eucalyptus and damp soil. Flavors of underripe raspberries, currant, white pepper and a hint of black cherry mirror the nose. This vintage has achieved perfect balance between its acidity and medium-fine tannins; a silky, smooth mouthfeel and a finish that just won’t quit. ~ Abbie Clark, Marketing & Event Manager
Walla Walla Valley
100% French (40% new oak)
Known as the “Lost Bordeaux” grape, Carmenère once thrived in the Bordeaux region of France and is believed to be one of the ancient grapes.
During the 1860s, Carmenère, along with much of France’s vines, were infested by phylloxera, a tiny little aphid that came over from America. Already a difficult grape to grow, the Carmenère vines were pulled up after the phylloxera epidemic and replaced with grapes that were higher yields for exportation: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
During this same time period, French vine cuttings of what was believed to be Merlot were sent to Chile. The grapes thrived in Chilean soil, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when scientists tested the vines that they discovered it was the long-lost Carménère grape. Today, Carmenère is primarily produced in Chile. But outside of Chile, Carmenère is found in Italy, California and the Walla Walla Valley.
In 1997, Leonetti’s Chris Figgins planted the first Carménère in Washington state from cuttings from the Guenoc and Langtry Estates Winery in California at the Leonetti Mill Creek Upland Vineyard. The following year some of those cuttings were shared with Seven Hills Vineyard and Mark Colvin of Colvin Cellars (now out of business). REININGER purchased a block of Carmenère grapes from Seven Hills Vineyard as soon as they were eligible and our first vintage was released in 2002. To date, we are the longest running producers of Carmenère in Washington.