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Jul 8, 2018

This week, we focus on this splendid grape that has come into its own. From obscure blender to a star varietal, Grenache or Garnacha is a total crowd-pleaser and can be a delicious wine in its simplest and most complex formats. We give the lowdown on it -- from red to white to "furry" Grenache, I'm positive you'll hear about some wine in this podcast that will make you want to run out and get it! 

 

Here are the show notes:

Grape Overview

  • We cover the origin story -- the wine spread around around Mediterranean and we believe it originated in Spain in Aragón, moved north and south of Pyrenees to France. The Sardinians of Italy would argue this premise...
  • It's traditionally been a blender but now great varietal examples are available

Grape character:

  • Grenache is fruity, rich, sweet-tasting with red and black berry notes 
  • Its challenges: it ripens to high sugar levels and it can oxidize – even young wines brown around the rim. It can lack tannin
  • The key to great Grenache/Garnacha -- it NEEDS well drained soils and water stress to thrive and yields must be controlled!!
  • The vine has strong wood and is heat and wind tolerant -- it grows well in hot, dry climates.
  • Makes everything from rosé, to white, to sweet wines and does it well! 

We discuss Grenache Blanc (one of my faves!)

  • The wines of white Grenache are full bodied – fat and soft or floral, terroir-driven wines
  • Usually blended with Grenache Gris, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Macabeo, others
  • If yileds controlled, great full bodied wines that can be age worthy
  • Places: Châteauneuf-du-Pape,  California, South Africa, Priorat, CndP, Tarragona, Rioja, Navarra

 

Other mutations --  

  • Southern France and Sardinia: Grenache Rosé and Grenache gris make pale rosé and lightly tinted white wines. Pink skinned and more perfumed than Grenache blanc
  • Garnacha Peluda: wines lower in alcohol and higher in acidity that show spicy and savory notes 

Where do we find Grenache/Garnacha?

France

  • Rhone: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, Vacqueryas, and all over the southern Rhône - Grenache noir is the most common variety 
    • The GSM blend: Grenache can have a jam-like consistency when very ripe but usually adds bright fruit and alcohol to the blend. Syrah is typically blended to provide color and spice, while Mourvèdre can add elegance and structure to the wine
    • Rosé: Tavel and Lirac roses, Provence, Rousillon for rose,
  • Roussillon: dry wines, but also Vins Doux Naturels – Banyuls, Maury

 

Spain

  • Blends with Tempranillo, varietal as Garnacha
  • Considered a "workhorse" grape of low quality suitable for blending but Priorat's rise and New World Rhone Rangers sparked a re-evaluation the variety
  • North and east: Rioja, Navarra, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena, Madrid, La Mancha, Priorat, Penedes
  • Dry farmed, concentrated and tannic
  • Aragón is the probable origin of the grape and has the largest surface of Garnacha in Spain  

 

Italy

  • Cannonau in Sardinia -- high alcohol, can be harsh and green. 

Other Old World regions– Other southern Italian places, Algeria, Israel, Morocco, Cyprus, also grown in Croatia

 

New World: Australia and California

 

Australia

  • Lots of GSM, some varietal wines
  • McLaren Vale = luscious richness and spicy notes
  • Barossa Valley =jammy, hugely fruity, can be over the top

United States

  • Used and abused at first -- grown in the hot central San Joaquin Valley because of its tolerance to heat and drought.
  • Made sweet "white Grenache" wines, a la white Zinfandel
  • Rhône Rangers movement in the late 20th c helped bring Grenache up in status -- rising in popularity and quality in CA
  • In the early 20th century, Grenache was one of the first successful grapes in Washington State.

 

Garnacha/Grenache is an amazing, do-all grape. There's a style for everyone, so try it if you haven't! 

 

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