Happy (belated) Grenache day!
If you are a follower of the wine press you cannot have failed to notice that Grenache has been the grape on everyone’s lips and in fact 21st September was International Grenache Day wherein wine industry insiders all got together, talked about Grenache and drank a great deal. As a Grenache enthusiast, I am pleased to see that the grape is being promoted. But some of you might be wondering what all the fuss is about – it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a blog extolling the virtues of this often misunderstood grape.
Grenache is one of the most planted red grapes in the world, with a high volume of plantings in France and Spain (where it is known as Garnacha). The New World is tentatively embracing Grenache as well and it grows particularly well in Australia where it is often used in Rhone-style blends. But Grenache is actually an unsung hero of two wines that I know you’ve heard of – but you might not have known that it was a contributing grape.
Thirteen varieties are permitted to be grown in this high-profile Southern Rhone appellation – with Grenache being the most planted. So if you’ve ever enjoyed a good Chateauneuf, chances are you are a Grenache-lover already, you just didn’t realise it.
Five varieties are permitted in Rioja, including four red grapes. Tempranillo is the most prolific, but Grenache is a common constituent.
If you were not able to celebrate Grenache day on 21st September then we would like to invite you to have a belated celebration. Go and ask your wine merchant for a really good bottle of Grenache, and while you are drinking it, peruse the following reasons why you ought to be drinking a lot more Grenache in the future.
- Grenache is the new Shiraz. Remember when we all fell in love with Shiraz, and Burgundy and Bordeaux became really uncool? Well, it’s time for a change folks…
- It tastes great. Many tasters will tell you it has an unmistakable character – personally I don’t agree, as Grenache is so versatile and so often blended, it does not have the white peppery notes that make Shiraz so identifiable or the green pepper notes that Cabernet is known for. It has a warm, spicy and blackcurranty character that seduces you in a much less obvious way.
- It loves oak. If you are looking for a big, well-balanced toasty winter warmer, grab your Grenache.
- Old vines make great wines. If you see ‘Old Vine Grenache/Garnacha’ on a label, grab it. Older vines produce less fruit and yield a highly concentrated wine with bags of flavour. There are some cracking examples from Spain that are really affordable.
- It rhymes with ‘Panache’ a much underused word that I read on Wikipedia ‘carries the connotation of a flamboyant manner and reckless courage’.
- It is really alcoholic. Grenache is not for the faint-hearted. And we know, readers of 12×75.com, that you are not faint-hearted.
- Banyuls is the new Port. The southern French appellation of Banyuls is where Grenache is used to make big, heady fortified wines that seem to age endlessly and pack a mean punch. They have a rustic nature that Ports of the equivalent price definitely don’t have – and I don’t mean that in a bad way, they have a finesse all of their own.
- The South of France is the new New World. Don’t get me wrong, we love New World Grenache – but it’s nice to see Southern France fight back with what they do best – well-balanced blends based on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsaut and others.
- We salute the Rhone Rangers. California’s more innovative winemakers have dragged Grenache away from cheap, sweet pink wines to show that it can really thrive in the California sunshine to make deep, concentrated reds.
- Grenache loves food. It loves hearty bistro dishes and stews, British pub classics, and also food with finesse. Perfect for matching with your winter menu.
If ten reasons aren’t enough then for goodness’ sake get the cork out of that bottle and find out for yourself!