aka Tinto Mazuelo(Esp.), Gragnano (Italy), Pinot Evara (Port.), Carignan noir (Fr.)


The grape variety known as Carignane originated in the Spanish region Aragon in the town of Cariñena. Spain’s reputation as a wine growing country can be traced back to the Romans close to the year 50 BC. Historically, Spanish winemakers used Carignane as a component of neighboring region’s Rioja’s red wine blend.

After its popularity grew, the grape was later transplanted to Sardinia, Italy and Algeria. As a French colony, Algeria’s crops were primarily grown for export to France. In 1962, Algeria gained its independence from France which forced France to designate acreage inside its own borders for Carignane production.

Carignane has also been transplanted to South Africa, Australia, and North and South America. In California, the grape is rarely used to make varietal wines, but some examples from old vines do exist. Today it is gradually being replaced with grapes of a more distinctive and aromatic variety.

Places It Is Grown

In Europe, Carignane is still grown in Spain, France, and Italy. While it is almost non-existent in Aragon, Spanish production has not decreased. Large yields are seen in the Catalan wine region. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France vineyards produce Cargnane. In Italy the grape is most commonly found in Sardinia and Lazio where it is often found as a rosé.

In the New World, Carignane is most often planted in the warmer wine regions. California, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia and South Africa have all produced high yields and a quality grape. Carignane’s popularity in California reached such heights as to make it the 3rd most widely planted grape. However, in the modern era of the Californian wine landscape, the Carignane grape production has dropped off significantly.

In the past the majority of plantings in California could be found in the dryer Central Valley. Now, the grape can be found growing in vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Mendocino Counties. In the 70s and 80s the grape was primarily used to make box and jug wines. Since then Carginane has become one of the leading “home-wine-making” grapes and is bottled as a varietal. It has also been crossed with Cabernet Sauvignon to produce Ruby Cabernet.

Properties Of Grape

As stated above, Carignane grows very well in warmer climates with long growing seasons. The vine has a habit of upright-growth that prevents the need for a trellis. The grape buds and ripens late in the growing season which protects it from potentially harmful spring frosts. Along with a long summer growing season the vineyard needs to be well irrigated and possess fertile soil. Under those conditions, Carginane will produce an average of 11 tons of grapes per acre of planting. These high yields and its color are why this grape makes for good blending and cheap varietals.

The down side to Carignane is its high levels of sensitivity to rot, powdery mildew, downy mildew and grape worms. The long growing season clearly increases risk and makes the grape a difficult one to grow for many farmers. The grape also creates difficulties for winemakers. Carignane has a proclivity to mutate and produce wines that have high color, acidity, and tannins without providing much distinct flavor and personality. These grape qualities require a lot of skill in the winemaker to produce a well-balanced wine. If not processed properly the wine created has very little appeal on the market.

In order to subdue it poor qualities as a varietal grape, some vineyards carefully manage the vine, and limit crop size in order to produce a wine with a unique appeal. There is also a general rule with wine that holds true for this grape variety; the older the vine the better the grape and the better the wine. Winemakers also experiment with Carbonic maceration and adding small amounts of Cinsault and Grenache (red grapes) with some appealing results. (Oak barreling is avoided at all costs when it comes to making Carignane wine, due to the extra tannins that would be added.)

Partnering With Food

Rule #1: Matching the alcohol level and body of the wine to the heaviness of the food should make for a proper pairing every time.

As with other red wines, dishes that are fatty, oily, rich or salty will pair well with this wine. Carignane’s high levels of tannins and acidity can “cut” through the heaviness and be a refreshing change of pace on the palate. Also look for dishes that are high in protein. When paired with food that is not high in proteins (vegetarian dishes) the wine’s bitterness and drying effect will be heightened.

Below are a list of foods and dishes that should pair well with Carignane wine:

  • Braised Veal Tongue
  • Beef Medallions with European Girolle Mushrooms
  • Beef Daube (French Beef Stew)
  • BBQ (red meat)
  • Caramelized Pork
  • Charcuterie Platter
  • Chicken Curry
  • Chicken Marengo
  • Coucous Royale
  • Duck Breast with Cherry Sauce
  • Garden or Green Salad
  • Grilled Lamb Chops
  • Provencal Stuffed Vegetables

Restaurants With These Types of Dishes

To view restaurants that serve appetizers, entrees and other dishes that partner well with this grape type, click here….

About americanwinegrape

American Wine Grape Distributors Inc. AKA A. Silvestro Wine Grape, has been in business for over 5 decades. We are wine enthusiasts just like you and want to share in that enjoyment. This is why we are developing a new and exciting platform for growers, restaurants, sommeliers and home winemakers. Our goal is to bring the wine community together and is the driving force behind our new blog.

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