Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grapes on the planet.
That explains its many number of synonyms - Garnacha, Alicante, Nieddu, Cannonau, Lladoner and Uva di Spagna among them.
An early budder / late ripener, grenache is a heat seeking missile. Its sturdy wood, penchant for dry, rocky soils and upright growth pattern makes it suitable for hot, arid climates and able to withstand periods of drought. A thin-skinned, light flesh, sweet grape it tends toward wines higher in alcohol and lighter in colour, often desirable traits in a blending partner. Pure varietal Grenache aren’t all that common; most often you’ll see it blended, as with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, for example, or GSM blends from South Australia. Red fruit notes are hallmarks – raspberry, strawberry and cherry, with a characteristic white pepper, spice and dried herb savouriness and a move towards leather and tar with age. Grenache’s versatility also makes it a feature player in rosés (Tavel, Navarra) and fortified vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls.
Here are some of our favourite grenache tasted at Gismondi on Wine over the past year (*note - prices were at time of publication and may have changed).
93. Yalumba The Tri-Centenary Grenache 2008, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia. $47.00 (ON)
A very singular wine, hand-picked from a scant, 820, gnarly old grenache bush vines planted in 1889. Very savoury nose, with dried cherry, dried strawberry, black cherry, earthy mushroom and worn, aged leather over a gossamer whiff of light florals. The superbly finessed palate is bright and elegant, with layers of scented strawberry blossom, roses, dried herbs and pure, ripe cherry carried by smooth, elongated tannins. Seemingly feather light and concentrated at once, subtly focused and lingering. Current release, ready to drink now or tuck away for 5 plus years. TR
92. Gérard Bertrand Tautavel Hommage aux Vignerons 2011, Tautavel, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Roussillon, South of France, France. $41.79
Tautavel is a village in Roussillon where civilisation was first recorded, nestled between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean. Here old, low-yielding grenache vines are sourced from 20 hectares of limestone terraces and hillsides, fermented and macerated in cement before a year in French oak barrels. Fresh and bright, with anise, cocoa, dried garrigue, black raspberry, violet, vanilla aromas. Rich, round and elegant on the medium bodied palate, with light tannins carrying a savoury mix of bittersweet cocoa, pepper, black raspberry, plum, blood orange and cedar spice. Fine fruit and structure for old vine grenache, delicious now with duck or lamb but will continue to deepen and mature in the bottle for several more years. AG-TR
91. Stag's Hollow Renaissance Grenache 2014, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. $35.00
It’s good to know that Stag’s Hollow continues to persevere where grenache is concerned. Winter kill is a problem with this variety hence you won’t find much of it in Canada. Too bad because we love how it’s progressing in BC. The nose has beautiful white pepper, character with a coating of cedar as it wafts from the glass. Its red fruit nose is equally expressive evoking cherries, cranberries and wild strawberries all with a sagebrush/savoury background. Best of all is the fresh, peppery finish. Juicy, charming and delicious this red wine makes a statement that we can be different. The final blend contains 3 percent syrah. The oak is French and perfectly incidental. Oh and yes, to make sure the delicate Okanagan fruit esters remain intact it is finished under a beautiful glass Vinolok closure. AG
90. Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache Barossa 2013, Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia. $25.00
I love the freshness of this overlooked Aussie grape, so oft relegated to a blending partner. When treated with respect - especially in old vine examples like this - results are outstanding. Opening with primary cherry, mineral, scented raspberry and fine spice. Beautiful silken strawberry, savoury spiced cherry, fine grained spice and orange peel close out the lively palate. Pure fruited, precise and clear, and a natural for tender pork tenderloin, quail or grilled salmon. TR
90. Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010, Sardinia, Italy. $21.29
We liked last year’s edition but the 2010 may even be better. Cannonau is the Sardinian grape said to be the forerunner of grenache; in this case grown on clay and sandy soils. The grapes are aged for two years in large Slavonian oak barrels before spending several more months in bottle. The nose is fresh with that special Mediterranean warmth and even more plummy/raspberry cherry fruit aromas and flavours. The palate is balanced with a juicy, dry, fruity, savoury, cherry flavour throughout. Impressive for the price. Serve with roast chicken or mushroom dishes. AG
90. Austin Hope Grenache 2012, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo County, Central Coast, California, United States. $38.00
Light grenache colour but with a very expressive nose of sweet cooked fruits, raisins and spice. The attack is warm and soft with flavours of cooked raspberries, all-spice and vanilla with a grind of cinnamon. Fat rich, spicy and warm on the palate it finishes similarly: long and warm and soft and glossy. Best with whole oven-roasted chicken. AG
88. Serafino Wines Sorrento Dry Grown Grenache 2012, McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia. $23.00
Dry farmed bush vine grenache undergoes minimal oak handling, allowing the sun warmed fruit to shine. Fragrant raspberry, black cherry and dried herbs on the nose. The fleshy body carries the same, along with fine spiced mulberry and boysenberry, dark cocoa, opulent tannins and a lifted juiciness. Great length in this mid/full bodied red - invites pairing with plum sauced ribs or lamb. TR
88. Le Paradou Grenache 2012, South of France, France. $12.19
This wine is delicious from its fresh juicy entry to its silky red fruit finish. It’s one hundred percent, old-vine grenache (75-years old) that spends about a half a year in concrete before bottling. It’s really a pure expression of the grape shout out black cherries and pepper with just a hint of tannin in the dried herbs finish. Back up the truck. AG