Wed 16 Sep 2015

Grenache: always the bridesmaid, never the bride


… seems to be the lot of this underrated grape.

But I have had a long-time love affair with wines made from this underrated grape: Rioja, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Minervois, Banyuls, Gigondas, Priorat, all contain grenache (garnacha in Spain) and therein lies the reason, I feel, for the lack of due deference paid to this most versatile grape.  An important player in the assemblage of these well-known wines, its name rarely appears on the label, leading to its position of relative obscurity and under-appreciated status.

Grenache - always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Grenache – always the bridesmaid, never the bride

Other grapes that can command the spotlight, chardonnay, syrah to name two, are practically brands in themselves. But poor old grenache remains under the radar.

But this is a grape that can produce rosés, reds at all levels, and even sweet wines that can take on chocolate; not to mention the white mutations of grenache blanc and gris that produce a range of full-bodied whites which are now becoming more widely appreciated.

Well it’s time to put things right and this Friday 18th September, grenache gets to have its share of the limelight as it is International Grenache Day – a day where the grape can be celebrated by showcasing wines where grenache not only dominates but rules. My kind of wines!

If you’re looking for a place to start your love affair or reacquaint yourself with the glories of grenache then these would be my recommendations:

From Navarra in northern Spain, there’s Señorio de Sarria Rosado, Navarra 2014, a smooth and fruity rosado to try with marinated anchovies. A good insight into the grape in its white form would be the round and refreshing Grenache Blanc from Domaine du BoscDomaine Jones in Tuchan, close to the border with Roussillon, produces a full and herby grenache gris perfect for aperitifs or robust fish stews. Her ample red (Domaine Jones, Côtes Catalanes Grenache 2013)

Mrs, and now Mr Jones, in Katie's old-vine vineyard below Queribus

Mrs, and now Mr Jones, in Katie’s old-vine vineyard below Quéribus

from old grenache vines in the shadow of Cathar stronghold, Château de Quéribus, is overflowing with luscious fruit; a winter warmer to delay the central heating switch on as the nights close in.

For a lighter fragrant style which demonstrates grenache or garnacha’s versatility why not give Salvaje del Moncayo Garnacha 2014 a try? It’s made by self-confessed garnacha nut, Raul Acha whose parents’ ancient garnacha vines in Rioja inspired him to seek out interesting parcels to vinify across Spain. Both reds would suit hearty fare and serving the latter cellar cool introduces an appealing freshness, one of the hallmarks of good grenache or garnacha which also deserves to be better understood.So whatever you choose, let’s afford grenache the acclaim it deserves as the headliner and not just a support act.

Conrad Braganza
The Cellar Showroom

The wines mentioned above will all be open to taste in The Cellar Showroom on International Grenache Day this Friday 18th September. If you are in the area, do call in and try them.

Read more about the grenache grape in our online guide here.

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