Known as carignan in southern France and bovale grande in Italy’s Sardinia, thick-skinned cariñena (aka mazuelo and samsó) thrives in warm climates, which are required to bring this very late-ripening variety to maturity. It is best known for being a small contributor to the great garnacha-based wines of Catalunya’s Priorat and Montsant DOs; in its supporting role, cariñena adds good acidity, dark coloration and a boost of tannins, coupled with bright, unmistakable blueberry and violet notes. That said, while its traditional role has been as a blending grape, it is just starting to be used on its own to make respectable single-varietal wines in the Rioja, Catalunya and Navarra regions of Spain.
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