Researchers in Chile have embarked on a quest to find a ‘super-Carmenere clone' in a bid to improve quality and consistency of the country’s signature grape variety.
The two-year study aims to eradicate or minimise some of Carmenere’s less attractive qualities including poor fertility and fruit set, late ripening and a high pyrazine content – which can give excessively herbaceous flavours in wines.
But the researchers insist that they still want to retain Carmenere’s distinctive character. ‘We don’t want to completely lose the green or peppery character, otherwise it won’t be Carmenere,’ said Professor Yerko Moreno of the University of Talca. ‘We don’t want something that will taste like wood and fruit.’
The research has already discovered enormous differences among the variety’s 60-plus potential clones, with some producing more than three times more pyrazines than others.
Currently producers have to rely on mass selections made in the vineyard but Moreno believes the study will uncover one or more clones of Carmenere suited to commercial production.
Moreno added, ‘I think we’re likely to be able to reduce pyrazines, but I’m not so sure about berry set. That could be a generic trait in Carmenere.’
The study is funded by Viña Casa Silva, the Chilean government and two of the country’s leading universities.
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Written by Richard Woodard