In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Carmenere grape grew alongside her sisters, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux. All three of them grew up with their parents, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. But after the phylloxera outbreak that destroyed so many of the vineyards of Europe between 1863 and 1889, Carmenere was thought to have been completely destroyed. She was thought to have been wiped off the face of the earth.
When my son was in grade school, a co-worker of mine, who had 5 grown sons of her own, told me that around the age of 10, boys start to pull away from their mothers. “You’ll feel like you’ve lost him forever,” she told me. “But then when they’re around 16, they come back to you.” I had never heard that before, but her words stuck with me.
In 1996 Carmenere reappeared in Chile! Sometime in the 18th century before the phylloxera outbreak, cuttings of vines thought to be Merlot were transplanted in Chile. Up until they were DNA tested, Carmenere continued to thrive under her mistaken identity. Now, she’s come back to us. She is no longer one of the grapes in a standard Bordeaux blend. In Chile, she stands on her own, as a single varietal.
Now, that my son is 16, I can look back and confirm my co-worker’s wisdom. My little boy did pull away from me for several years, and now he’s back. He’s not the cute little, funny buddy he was 8 years ago when he came with me on every errand, and told me everything that was going on in his life. He’s still cute, but he’s now taller than me. He’s still funny, but now his humor is purposeful and witty. He doesn’t tell me everything, but conversations with my son are much more interesting and intelligent then they were eight years ago.