Today is International Grenache Day. You could argue (and some do) that the ‘Day of’ thing is getting out of hand. Does Merlot, for example, really need or deserve any awareness raising? It’s ubiquitous and everyone drinks it already. But Grenache – an underestimated hero - certainly does, and I think it was among the first grapes to get its own day.
Which wines are made from Grenache?
Grenache is responsible for some of the most gluggable and for some of the greatest wines in the world. That southern French rosé you found so refreshing on holiday? Grenache. That Spanish rosé you found so refreshing….Garnacha (aka Grenache). Grenache is one of the most widely planted reds in the world. And for many recent years, that was its reputation. Gluggable juicy wine. But Grenache is the main ingredient in some great and distinctive wines – the type that make you sit up and take notice, even if you have started your evening with several glasses of rosé first.
Châteauneuf du Pape, Rioja, Maury and Barossa Valley Grenache
Châteauneuf du Pape, and the other great appellations of the Southern Rhône are mostly Grenache, as those warm, supply spicy lovelies of Southern France with names that (apparently) keep them difficult to sell and amazingly good value (yes, Costières de Nimes and Corbières, I mean you).Grenache is also a very important part of many a great Rioja, especially when the producer has an ancient vineyard of old, bush-trained Grenache. These twisted, stumpy vines are the Yodas of grape vines – venerable, deep and surprisingly powerful/nifty with a light sabre. Grenache loves heat, and tolerates drought. And if you make it fight a bit for survival (as with those old Yodas), you add amazingly seductive textures and fragrance to the trademark juicy fruit that makes you love those rosés so much.Grenache can get really ripe without developing the thick-skinned tannin that often plagues late-picked reds from warm climates. This high level of sugar can lead to high alcohol, which is perhaps why Grenache has a reputation for being behind ‘big’ wines. Actually, it can be beautifully nuanced, and almost delicate. Great Grenache can age. Probably the greatest example of how thrillingly is in Maury, the legendary sweet red wines of Roussillon, in South Eastern France. This pure Grenache is made in a technique a little like Port – in which the crushed grapes are fortified by grape spirit and then left to leach out amazing levels of colour, density and flavour into the juicy mix for up to a month. Great Maury from top producers like Mas Amiel can age for decades, and is a beautiful thing. Grenache is also amazing from the Barossa Valley, especially from the ancient bush vines planted by Silesian immigrants in the 19th century. We don’t have any Barossa Valley Grenache in The Perfect Cellar, er, cellar, yet. But we are crazy about Southern France. And Rioja.