Guess who is turning 21?

Monday, 4 November, 2019
Judy Brower -
I only recently discovered that the variety, Carménère, is in fact considered to be only 21 years old, as it was re-discovered in Chile in the 90s and then officially recognised again in 1998. Why?

The dreaded phylloxera, which decimated vineyards across France in 1867 was thought to have wiped out all strains of Carménère.

Imagine their surprise when winemakers in Chile were flummoxed by the varying ripening times of some of their vineyards, and on closer inspection, they discovered that in fact what they thought was a Merlot vineyard, was in fact interspersed with good old Carménère, which must have found its way to Chile over 150 years back and has been trying really hard to get noticed since then!

The Carménère grape was originally planted in the Médoc region of BordeauxFrance, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. The name originates from carmin which refers to the crimson colour of the autumn foliage, and it is considered one of the original 6 red grapes of Bordeaux.

Salóme Buys-Vermeulen, the winemaker at Lozärn near Bonnievale, and the owners, the Smuts family, were very excited to have discovered this unsung variety, after Salóme and her hubby Sybrand first discovered and enjoyed a fine Chilean Carménère in 2012. This led to them planting a Carménère vineyard on Doornbosch farm and we were delighted to taste the 2017 Red a few months back, their 2nd vintage, which is clearly a young vineyard but a delicious wine nonetheless. They have also produced a Rosé, at a lowish alcohol of 13% which will certainly tickle the taste-buds of rosé fans. 

I must say our team really enjoyed the 2017 which Salóme presented to our team. It was rich and deep in colour, and fairly intense in flavour - much richer than we expected for such a young vineyard. it is priced at R476 (from their website) and it must have the biggest punt I have ever seen in a bottle! 

Lozärn have only about half a hectare currently producing the red and rosé, and have another 1.4ha under vine which will produce only in 2 years time.  Wine-making really is a long game.

On my quest to find other Carménères in South Africa, I discovered that Carmen Stevens had also launched a single-variety Carménère (which she sources from Wellington) and now KWV Mentors also produce a single-variety from the 1.5ha to which they have access, but both produce less than 1000 bottles each, so unfortunately we we were not able to get our hands on any of them for a tasting.

South Africa has only 8.5ha under vine of this grape that just won't give up!

My son recently turned 21, so it was rather fitting to give him a bottle of the special Lozärn Carménère, a wine of a variety which also celebrated its coming of age this year!

Keep your eyes peeled for all the activities with Lozärn during November in preparation for International Carménère day on Sat 24th Nov.
If you are fortunate enough to have a bottle - do open and share your pics on the social media wires.



Judy Brower

Judy has been running alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at

A bunch of Carménère grapes
A bunch of Carménère grapes

The Lozärn Carménère rosé  among the thorns
The Lozärn Carménère rosé among the thorns

The Mentors Carmenere 2017
The Mentors Carmenere 2017

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