Grenache wine has seen a steady rise in popularity over the last 20 or so years - in the last 4 or 5 it's gone absolute gangbusters. No longer is it sidelined for fortification or blended away, rather it is being championed, particularly in the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, as a legitimate high-quality table wine. We find so much scope in Grenache wines with some offerings being incredibly light and approachable, almost Pinot Noir-like and others being treated more like a ballsy Shiraz. Either way, we’re on board.
Yeah, well… sort of. Sometimes it is referred to as poor man's Pinot. Not that Pinot is necessarily better… but Pinot requires much more labour in the vineyard – so it is substantially more expensive to produce.
Pinot is typically light through medium bodied whereas Grenache, with its higher tannin load, can cover light through to heavy. Very heavy Grenache wines are often over ripe, over extracted and/or over oaked.
Pinot can give you florals, cherry, redcurrant, liquorice, cranberry, earth and mushrooms.
Grenache can present with black and red cherry, white pepper, leather, strawberry, tobacco, spice, raspberry and even orange rind.
Pinot grows well in cold through cool climates. In Oz, the Adelaide Hills, Tassie, Mornington Peninsula, Pemberton and the Yarra Valley can all produce superb Pinots. These tend to range from 12.5 to 14.5% alcohol with relatively high acidity.
Grenache works well from cool through warm climates. The McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley produce some of the best Grenache in the world which tend to range from 14 to 15.5% alcohol with moderate acidity. We’ve no doubt that now the Aussie drinker has a taste for Grenache, more regions will begin to plant and produce good through superb Grenache. It’ll be exciting to see!
Pinot pairs well with dishes featuring duck, mushrooms, cherries, goat and other milder cheeses. Bigger editions can go well with lamb.
Grenache chokes down a dream with beef, pork, chook, veal, goat, snags, burgers, pizza, ribs, tomato bases sauces, mild curries, strong cheeses and paella.
Grenache is very widely planted in Australia and was originally primarily used in sweet fortified wine production. The grapes become flavour ripe at a relatively high sugar level so tend to produce wines with high alcohol and higher alcohol creates a more viscous mouthfeel which in turn enhances the suggestion of sweetness, even in dry wines.
Grenache makes superb Rosés, dry red wines and fortified wines – stand-alone and when blended with other complimentary varieties. The wines tend to be light to medium bodied with moderate tannins and acidity, generous flavours and relatively high alcohol.
Grenache is one of the most widely planted grapes on earth and makes superb dry red wines and brilliant fortified wines. It blends well, especially with Shiraz and Mataro (aka Mourvèdre) but also makes exceptional standalone wines. Spain produces heaps, as does France, Italy and Australia. It is known as Grenache, Garnacha, Garnatxa, Grenache Noir, Cannonau and a slew of other names, depending on where it is produced.
Sure, you can. Ripe fruit which has been pressed hard and aged in oak, especially new oak for a significant period of time will appear hard and ugly when chilled but Grenache Rosé and many dry red Grenache work well with a light chill. As you chill, fragrance is supressed and tannins enhanced, so it is a balancing act. An experiment is probably in order... as follows...
Open and taste.
Whack it in the fridge for 15 min – taste.
Back in the fridge for another 15 min and taste again.
You’ll soon work out what suits you best.
Grenache excels when produced in light through medium bodied exemplars. Heavier wines tend to reflect winemaking artefacts (like high pressure pressing post ferment and excessive oaking) rather than the grapes inherent genius. Heavy Grenache is generally ‘heavy, man!’.
For a bit more of a run down on Grenache, please have a look here.