Grapevine Archive for Grenache
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.
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.
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!
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!
It is one of the wine world’s most underrated grapes, producing juicy red wines at everyday prices as well as serious, terroir-driven examples at the top end.
If that wasn?t enough it plays a lead role in many of the fabulously vibrant rosés, while grenache blanc and grenache gris make fantastically individual white wines.
Our current Fine Wine List has an International Grenache Day selection to explore; in addition, here is a handful of wines that I feel offer a great summary of grenache’s appealing qualities (red, white and rosé):
Spain (Calatayud): Cruz de Piedra Garnacha, 2010 (Red, £5.50)
Spain (Terra Alta): Jaspi Blanc, 2011 (White, £8.50)
France (Roussillon): Domaine Jones Rouge Grenache, 2010 (Red, £11.95)
Spain (Rioja): Muga Rosado
Spain (Calatayud): El Puño Garnacha, 2007 (Red, £16)
Australia (McLaren Vale): d’Arenberg The Beautiful View Grenache, 2009 (Red, £38)
Spring has sprung in the Roussillon, prompting Katie Jones of Domaine Jones to share her enthusiasm for the season of renewal. Hers is a pocket handkerchief estate making three lovely wines. Her white is outstanding and is made from the Grenache gris, locally prized for its ageing capacity but unknown anywhere else.
‘The more I work with this grape variety the more I like it. It is a little frightening though as the grapes are pink and the juice when the grapes are pressed is bright orange, so I am always amazed by the lovely pale colour of the final wine. Grenache Gris makes some of the best white wines from this area of southern France and is often blended with other local grapes. Mine is not blended but exclusively Grenache Gris.
So why are my Grenache Gris special? They are 80 years old, they are planted on black slate soils and therefore they produce a very limited amount of grapes. The low productivity of my vines gives great depth and concentration to the final wine. It also means that the root structure is so well established that they don?t suffer from summer drought.
It still makes me smile that I almost didn?t buy this vineyard. Monsieur Bourrell who sold it to me forgot to mention that half of the vineyard was planted with Grenache Gris and not the red Grenache noir that I was expecting. As he took the grapes to the local cooperative, it didn?t matter to him that half the grapes were white. When I told him that I wasn?t sure that I still wanted to buy his vineyard he told me it wasn?t a problem – I could just mix it all together and make the traditional sweet dessert wine from Maury!
Not on your nelly, Monsieur Bourrell.’
Here at The Society we still need to wait for the 2011 but a small quantity of the 2010 (ref FC22301) is still available to order. To do so, please call Member Services on 01438 740 222.
FC19081 2009 Château Sainte Eulalie, Minervois (The Wine Society 01438 741177, £6.95) Terrific dry, spicy, plum and cherry-packed, 13 per cent alcohol, albino rabbit-eye pink. Also from the Languedoc, but this time the prime La Livinière hillside location. It is made predominantly from the syrah and cinsault grapes, topped up with a dollop of grenache and a dash of carignan.
SP5641 2009 Rioja Muga, Haro (The Wine Society, £7.75; Waitrose, £8.15; Majestic £8.99, or buy two for £7.99 each) Even Rioja has to evolve. Not so long ago I loathed the evil pinks that traditional Rioja produced, but this family-run winery has blended together red garnacha and tempranillo with white viura to create a pretty pale-rose pink ’09 whose fine, dry, spicy, peppery palate is a delight.
CE5401 2009 Leyda Pinot Noir Rosé Single Loica Vineyard, Viña Leyda (The Wine Society, £9.50; Great Western Wine, £9.95) Viña Leyda was one of the first to plant vines in the granite soil of the prime Leyda valley, whose rolling hillsides, only eight miles from the Pacific, are cooled by quality-enhancing sea breezes. Renowned for pinot noir, this starry, single-vineyard, rich crimson rosé bursts with racy, plummy, strawberry fruit.