Carignan - Regions, Taste, Best Wines (2024)

by David Butler

Wondering if Carignan is the red wine for you?

Pronounced “care-in-yen,” Carignan is a medium-bodied red wine mostly found in the southern France wine regions.

Carignan suffered a bad reputation as a low-quality wine grape for a long time. However, in recent years, producers have started to reinvigorate old Carignan vines and produce exceptional fruit-driven red wines, including many single-vineyard top cuvées!

So, how does Carignan wine taste? What foods should you pair it with?

Would Carignan age well in your cellar alongside your Cabernet Sauvignon?

In this article, we will take an in-depth look into Carignan. Starting at the history, how it's grown, winemaking techniques, and food pairings for you to try out.

We’ve also got a list of eight spectacular Carignan wines you should buy in 2024.

Further reading

What Is Carignan?


Carignan (known as Cariñena or Mazuelo in Spain) is a black-skinned grape variety, which goes by several distinct names depending on its region.

As a single varietal wine, it produces a fruit-driven red wine with subtle floral aromas (we’ll go into the taste and profile of this wine in a bit!)

Carignan is commonly used as a blending grape with other wine varieties, like Minervois, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carmenere, and Syrah.

Not highly regarded as a varietal wine, Carignan is often overshadowed by Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo.

But, what are Carignan Blanc and Carignan Gris?


Like Grenache and Pinot Noir, Carignan has a color mutation. These white and pink berries are known as Carignan Blanc and Carignan Gris. They’re both late budding and late ripening vines, which are known to get powdery mildew.

Carignan Blanc, found primarily in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, produces a full-bodied white wine with high acid levels, freshness, and aromatic expression.

Carignan Gris also produces a white wine with a light aroma with good structure and acidity.

Also read: Are you looking for the Perfect Champagne Glass to serve your Favorite Champagne? We have you covered.So, where did the Carignan grape originate?

A Quick Look At The History Of Carignan


Viticulturists believe that the Carignan grape originated in a region northwest of Spain - Aragon - in the mid-15th century. But, it’s various synonyms and cultivation in old and new world wine regions is a testament to its long history.

Some believe that the Phoenicians spread the grape to different regions amongst their colonies. Unfortunately, the grape hasn’t always had a great reputation for producing fine wine.

In the 1970s, the Carignan grape became the most planted grape in France. Winemakers were producing billions of liters of Carignan wine at a low-quality. The grape’s prominence and France’s wine lake problem became a concern, and authorities started an aggressive vine pull scheme. Fortunately, some Carignan winemakers have started to reinvent it and use the old vines to create rich, fruity wines which have revived the grape from its previous low.

Carignan Viticulture And Wine Regions


The Carignan vine is a vigorous one, produces high yields, and often buds and ripens late. If Carignan vineyard managers do not keep an eye on this vine, it could quickly produce 200 hectoliters per hectare.

The Carignan grape rarely achieves full ripeness unless planted in warm climates, like along the Mediterranean or Mendocino County in California (Carignane.)

The “bush vine” produces short shoots with clusters close to the trunk, making mechanical harvesting difficult.

Because of the high labor costs of harvesting this grape, it is not worth using it just as a blending wine or for making lower-priced box wines. Besides, Carignan is prone to powdery mildew, grape worms, and the European Grapevine Moth.

Even with all these challenges, you’ll find plantings of the Carignan grape variety around the world - mainly in France, Rioja in Spain, and in Italy. Around three-quarters of France’s Carignan vineyards (sometimes referred to as Cinsault) are in the Corbières appellation in Languedoc Roussillon, where the wine is sold as Vin de France.

Other regions where this grape thrives include California, Washington state, Algeria, Argentina, Chile (Maule Valley), China, South Africa, and Australia.

Also read: Want to serve some fresh, fruity cocktails at your next party? We have some Amazing Mimosa and Sangria Recipes for you!

Taste And Characteristics Of Carignan Wine


If you can get your hands on a rare Carignan varietal wine, you are in for a treat!

But, winemakers have had to put in extra work to overcome the naturally high tannins, acidity, and astringency to give the Carignan wine elegance and finesse. They were also forced to try different methods to produce good Carignan varietal wines.

This has resulted in wines with a wide variety of aromas. For example, if winemakers use carbonic maceration, the wine will have lower tannin levels and higher fruit notes.

If a winemaker ages the wine in light oak, you will taste vanilla and even notice coconut in the bouquet apart from the high acidity. Carignan wines have sandalwood and baking spice notes, if oaked.

On the nose, Carignan wine often has subtle notes of violet, wild herbs, cinnamon, star-anise spice, and cranberry sauce. Some Carignan wines also tend to be on the fruitier side, with delectable red fruit flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry.

Further reading:

Want to find out the perfect white wine for a celebration? Check out our detailed guides on the Sassy Sauvignon Blanc and the Delicious Riesling Wine.

Great Food Pairings To Try With Carignan


Carignan wine is becoming a favorite at Thanksgiving and casual dinners, alongside Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Beaujolais.

Carignan’s bold red fruit and meaty notes are ideal for pairing with rich poultry dishes (duck or turkey), roast pork, grilled meat, or even a delicious meaty brisket.Ready to try out Carignan for yourself?

8 Carignan Wines To Buy in 2024 (Including Price, Taste)

Below is a list of eight stunning Carignan wines from new and old vineyards that would please any red wine drinker.

1. 2016 Celler Mas Doix '1902' Centenary Carignan, Priorat DOCa, Spain


This wine has divine aromas of black currant, licorice, anise, thyme, orange peel, and a subtle garrigue touch.

On the palate, you will experience the wine’s emerging complexity. Tannins are still a bit tight, and the crisp acidity takes you to a subtle finish.

Price of 2016 Celler Mas Doix '1902' Centenary Carignan: $301

2. 2014 Terroir Al Limit Soc. Lda. Les Tosses, Priorat DOCa, Spain


The Terroir Al Limit winery produced this outstanding Carignan wine from 90-year-old vines.

This old vine Carignan has delicate aromas of baking spices, berry fruits, and cinnamon. This wine has infinite flavors of spiced plum, nutmeg, and berries.

Price of 2014 Terroir Al Limit Soc. Lda. Les Tosses: $223

3. 2018 Alvaro Palacios 'La Baixada', Catalonia, Spain


The sweet red fruit and herbal aromas on this Spanish wine, known as Samso, will remind you of wild Carignan. Even though it is a red blend with Garnacha, this wine’s intensity comes from the Carignan grapes.

The palate is fine and intense, with notes of black and red fruit, which lead to a savory core. The tannins melt in your mouth as they carry you to a smooth and long finish.

Price of 2018 Alvaro Palacios 'La Baixada': $217

4. 2010 Clos Pissarra El Riu, Priorat DOCa, Spain


This fantastic wine is from a promising wine region and is worth a try.

It has big spicy aromas that instantly give you an indication of its intensity. It has a bold flavor that has a focus on silky barrel spices.

Price of 2010 Clos Pissarra El Riu: $119

Also read: Struggling to find the perfect gift for a wine enthusiast? Check out this guide we put together of the Ideal Wine Gifts!

5. 2010 Capichera Mantenghja Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, Sardinia, Italy


Known as Carignano in Sardinia - the intensity of this wine’s ruby red color is enough to grab everyone's attention.

It has a gorgeous bouquet of fruit and spicy notes, with coffee and chocolate. It has a warm, round, and full palate that has great tannic structure and texture.

Price of 2010 Capichera Mantenghja Isola dei Nuraghi IGT: $115

6. 2015 Bodegas Marco Abella Roca Grisa Single Vineyard, Priorat DOCa, Spain


This ripe Carignan offers a bouquet of raisin, black fruit, and vanilla notes.

The palate is balanced, and more notes of ripe black fruits, cassis, and prunes develop. The finish of this stunning red wine has a surprising blueberry essence.

Price of 2015 Bodegas Marco Abella Roca Grisa Single Vineyard: $93

7. 2017 Celler Vall Llach 'Vi de Finca Mas de la Rosa', Priorat DOCa, Spain


The thick texture of this robust red is supported by the well-integrated tannins, which deliver kirsch, cassis, cola, and menthol flavor.

The herbal and meaty notes add a wonderful savory element. This wine somehow manages to remain fresh and balanced.

Price of 2017 Celler Vall Llach 'Vi de Finca Mas de la Rosa': $94

8. 2015 Ferrer Bobet Seleccio Especial Vinyes Velles, Priorat DOCa, Spain


This concentrated and powerful vintage is a classic Priorat! It has notes of wet slate and graphite, which comes from the best Carinena.

The full-bodied palate has fruity and dusty tannins and a bright acidity, which are powerful and neatly balanced at the same time.

Price of 2015 Ferrer Bobet Seleccio Especial Vinyes Velles: $87

Also read: Want to add something extra to your bubbles at your event? Take a look at some ideas for a Classic Kir Royale or a Classy Champagne Cocktail.

Is Carignan An Age-Worthy Wine?


While Carignan is an underrated wine and is still trying to gain a name for itself, it is best to drink it young.

However, the rarer varietal wines from an old vine can last for several years in perfect condition - especially those from the old vines from Monsant in Spain, Domaine D’Aupilhac in France, and Sardinia’s Cantina Santadi.  

In fact, the Santadi Rocca Rubia Carignano del Sulcis Riserva is affordable and delicious, and even a 29-year-old bottle will still be worth drinking.

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The reborn Carignan is gaining a strong foothold in the wine world. It’s a great wine for your dinner parties or a casual weeknight meal.

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