The Carignan grape, also known as Carignano in Italy, is a dark-skinned and high yielding variety that originated in the arid and hot region of Carignano, Spain. Due to this, it's highly durable and can resist harsh environmental conditions, contributing to its widespread cultivation.

The grape is famous for producing deeply coloured, full-bodied wines that are extremely high in tannin content. Its acidic nature makes it very suitable for blending with other softer, fruit-driven varieties like Grenache and merlot, or utilised in the creation of rosé wines. Regarded as a perfect match for robust flavours due to their intense and rich character, wines made from Carignan grapes are very compatible with a variety of meat dishes, particularly those featuring lamb and beef.

Carignan grapes themselves are large and spherical, with thick skins that can resist pest attacks and rot. The vine of this grape variety is also incredibly determinant, hardy and able to withstand intense heat, rocky soil, and strong winds. This makes it an excellent candidate for vineyards in challenging climates.

Over the years, the popularity of Carignan has fluctuated. During the 20th century, it was massively planted throughout France, especially in Languedoc-Roussillon, mainly because it was useful for cheap, bulk wine production post World War II. More recently, some growers have moved away from bulk wine production and instead shifted their focus towards creating fine wines. They have managed to extract deep, concentrated flavours from old-vine Carignan, creating expressive wines with complex fruity characteristics, often featuring blackberry, plum, pepper, and spice notes, with a herby, savoury finish.

Whilst Carignan may not be as immediately recognisable as varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, its resilience and versatility undoubtedly make it an important contributor to some seriously delicious wines.

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