You gotta love the classics - a true classic will be a true classic forever! It will ride the waves of trends and bide it’s time until the next generation discovers it in their Mum and Dad's record collection or cellar - who then go on to painfully tell their parents how they discovered it and how cool it is.
Those who have been enjoying Spanish wines or Rhone blends for years will already know of the classic varietal I’m taking the long road around to. It, like so many classics, has been rediscovered over the last little while and is enjoying a resurgence in popularity that is seeing it bust out from cult hero status at the local pub open-mic night to front and centre in stadiums, thrusting and twerking on its own headline tour.
The humble varietal Garnacha or Grenache as we know it.
|Australian Grenache vines are the oldest in the world.
|The Grenache varietal produces yields high in alcohol content, often at 15%.
|The Grenache vine is characterised by its strong wood.. Uh huh, it sure is.
From its beginnings centuries ago in vineyards across Spain (where it is said to have originated) and France (featuring as the main act in many a fine Chateauneuf-de-Pape wine), Grenache was for many years the most widely planted varietal in Australia until overtaken by shiraz
in the 1960’s. The fact that it grows very well in dry, warm climates meant Australia, and in particular South Australia, were seen as the perfect spot to grow Grenache. It's late ripening and the high alcohol content also lent itself to being used in a lot of early Australian fortified wines. Then along came two young up starts named Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, the former especially becoming so popular on the Australian palate that most of the Grenache plantings were pulled up in favour of the bigger, bolder, fuller-bodied Shiraz that has, in fairness, gone on to define and carry the Australian wine industry for many a year now.
A South Australian Statesman
Skip forward a few decades and an ever growing band of winemakers and wine lovers are dusting off an old classic and bringing Grenache back to the front of the stage. Especially in SA where James Halliday says it has the best Grenache growing region in the country in McLaren Vale, outstanding single varietal examples and beautiful blends are again proving ever popular. Barossa vs the Vale well that’s an argument for another day! As we move in society and we embrace all things food and wine we are, I believe, building a better understanding and enthusiasm for drinking not so much for the sport, but for the experience. Grenache
, perhaps being the ultimate food wine, is very quickly becoming the poster child for a new generation of wine lovers. With its bright red berry centre and hints of earth and spice, the varietal's versatility is its key - it’s as easily at home on a lazy Sunday arvo round the slow cooked pork shoulder with a white bean cassoulet and Edith Piaf on the record player as it is sitting down to dinner with a gnarly Rabbit and Spanish black pudding paella and the Misfits spitting early punk over the airwaves.
We love it & so should you!
It has also pioneered the way for other exciting varieties to be planted in Australia, things like Nero d'Avola, Dolcetto, Lagrein and of course Nebbiolo to name a few. At the minute in South Australia we are so blessed to have Grenache back and equally blessed to have some smart and exciting winemakers producing some top notch examples, my advice: get on board. I am!!!