Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Grenache is the fourth most planted variety in the world, and the first most planted in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha. Early-budding and late-ripening, Grenache is notorious for producing round, high alcohol wines if not planted in the right areas or cropped back. It loves the Mediterranean climate. In sandy, devigorated soil or where the vines are old (up to 50 years and more) it has the potential to produce high quality wines.

In Spain it plays a role in Rioja, rounding out the Tempranillo. It is blended sometimes with international varietal Cabernet Sauvignon in Priorato, but the many old vines plantings there are now being cherished and recognized for their worth. Most consider the wines from these old vine Priorat plantings, such as Alvaro Palacios L’Ermita and Finca Dofi, the benchmark for the world. In Navarra, Garnacha is often bottled as an excellent value single varietal, especially as Rosado.

In France, it appears all over the southern Rhône adding richness and strawberry notes to Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhone wines. Further south it makes luscious, rich, fortified wines in Maury and Banyuls, part of the Languedoc Roussillon, as well as the ubiquitous Rosé de Provence.

Australia in specializes in GSMs, Grenache blended with two other grapes from the south of France, the Syrah of Hermitage and the Mourvèdre of Bandol. Better Australian single varietal versions are deeply colored and brooding.

California has a wide variety of styles; the grape is most often used there as a blending grape in Rhone style wines all throughout the state, and since the 1850’s has been planted for every day table wine in the Central Valley.

Grenache produces soft, velvety, high alcohol, low acid wines with sweet, ripe strawberry notes.

Alvaro Palacios L'Ermita, Priorat (Spain)
Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi, Priorat (Spain)
Costers del Siurana Dolc de L’Obac, Priorat (Spain)
Costers De Mas Igneus, Priorat (Spain)
Contino Graciano, Rioja (Spain)
Chateau Rayas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley (France)
Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage, Languedoc Roussillon (France)
Rusden Grenache, Barossa, South Australia (Australia)
Torbreck, Les Amis Barossa Valley, South Australia (Australia)
Unti Grenache, Dry Creek Valley (USA)

Best Value
Turkey Flat Grenache 2002 Barossa Valley (Australia)
McDowell Grenache Rosé, Mendocino, California (USA)

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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