Wed 14 Sep 2016

International Grenache Day: Feeling The Love For An Underrated Gem

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They say that every dog has its day.

Well, a quick browse of the web will quickly reveal that not just every dog but pretty much everything else has its day also!

For instance, did you know that September alone plays host to International One-Hit Wonder Day, Teddy Bear Day, Love Note Day (aww) and – my personal favourite – International Red Panda day (it’s the 21st for those who were wondering)?

So why should we even bat an eyelid at International Grenache Day?

International Grenache Day, or IGD, is on the third Friday in September (presumably it lost out on the first and second Friday slots to International Bring Your Manners To Work Day and those troublesome teddy bears I mentioned earlier). Why should we care?

Well, here’s what the team behind IGD have to say:

Why should you care about grenache, one of the most widely planted and least known red grapes in the world? Because you love wine; because you are bored with merlots and pinot noirs; because you are fascinated with pairing just the right wine with your foods; because you have an insatiable curiosity for the finer things in life; because your mother always said you should learn something new every day.

Maybe they have a point! It does offer the opportunity (or should that be excuse?) to try a whole load of different wines made from grenache. This is certainly something not to be sniffed at – if you’ll excuse the pun: given that grenache is so widely planted it’s still relatively low key compared to the cabernets and pinots of the wine world.

Harvesting perfectly ripe garnacha in Spain

Harvesting perfectly ripe garnacha in Spain

Pretty much all the major wine regions produce some decent single-varietal or grenache-blended wines. If trying to stick a pin in its spiritual home, most would aim for France’s southern Rhône valley, where it plays a big part in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Spain would likely be another popular choice: here garnacha, as it is known here, can produce exceptional everyday wines and provide an important ingredient in Rioja wines.

But there’s plenty of choice globally when looking for grenache. Its popularity with winemakers looks set to grow, mainly due to global warming, as it has an ability to thrive in dry, hot climates and is fairly drought resistant.

Its ability to work well in blends is simultaneously its strong suite and its Achilles heel, sometimes suffering from sharing the limelight with better-known varieties.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some cracking single-varietal wines available (check out this beauty made from old vines by specialist Domaines Lupier in Spain, for instance); but grenache’s ability to contribute to a blend is where, for many, its true genius lies.

Enrique and Elisa from Domaines Lupier tasting old-vine garnacha from the vine to check for ripeness and quality.

Enrique and Elisa from Domaines Lupier tasting old-vine garnacha from the vine to check for ripeness and quality.

So what does grenache add to a blend? I asked our Buying Team for their thoughts and the recurring themes were juiciness and generosity of fruit, strawberry and raspberry flavours, and a sweet, ripe character. On its own, grenache can deliver quite high levels of alcohol, so blending it with other lower-alcohol varieties can be useful in providing balance in a wine. As Rhône buyer Marcel Orford-Williams put it:

‘At its simplest grenache makes round, heartwarming wines. At its best it has real majesty.’

Whether in a blend or pure and unadulterated, we therefore feel that grenache is a grape worth exploring. So if you’re not in the mood for International Teddy Bear Day, do consider raising a glass of grenache on Friday!

We guarantee it will provide more pleasure than International One Hit Wonder Day!

Gareth Park
Marketing Campaign Manager

Ideas for celebrating International Grenache Day:

• Indulge in some vinotherapy by covering yourself in crushed grenache grapes and honey. Very good for the skin apparently.

The International Grenache Case features six delicious under-£10 grenache wines selected by our buyers, and is available for £48 (including UK delivery).

Go to The Society’s Cellar Showroom in Stevenage where all the wines featured in this case will be available to taste free of charge on Friday 16th September.

Join in the conversation on social media: use the #GrenacheDay hashtag to share any grenache highlights and see what others are enjoying.

Enjoy some delicious grenache wines!

Categories : France, Rhône, Spain

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