Last week was International Grenache Day. In honor of the day, Rhone Rangers had a wonderful Zoom call with five wineries that make Grenache. I’m excited to share with you what I learned from this event.
Let’s Start with What I Shared Last Year
In my article on Grenache last year, I highlighted a few cool facts about the grape:
- A sweet/dry combo: When you first taste Grenache, you might decide that you’re tasting a sweet wine. But truth be told, this is a very dry wine. Its lightness and fruitiness, coupled with its cinnamon notes, might lead you to believe it’s sweet. But it’s not.
- The price will surprise you: You probably think of Grenache as a moderately priced wine. But it can be a very expensive wine. According to Wine Folly, “Bottles of Château Rayas and Domaine du Pegau in Châteauneuf-du-Pape go for close to $600. In Priorat, Clos Erasmus and Alvara Palacio’s ‘Ermita Velle Vinyes‘ are two Spanish cult Grenache-based wines nearing the $300 mark. Finally, Sine Qua Non in Santa Barbara run upwards of $500.”
Now for the New Information About Grenache
- The grape’s origins: Even though we know it as a Rhone variety, the grape originated in the region of Aragon in northern Spain.
- The marriage of Grenache and Châteauneuf-du-Pape: According to the Chateauneuf-du-Pape website, the grape and the region “are a perfect marriage because of the region’s meager dry soils, hot summers with severe, long periods of drought, and mistral which protects against coulure (shot berries) and vine diseases.” This is definitely a warm-weather grape.
- Grenache Blanc: Is Grenache Blanc made from Grenache? No. This white grape is a naturally occurring mutation that was also believed to have started in Spain. Very little of it is grown. In Santa Barbara, there are two vineyards that grow it.
- Grape Shatter: This occurs when a grape berry fails to develop completely because of incomplete pollination. This can be a big issue with Grenache, especially when there are a lot of cool days in the spring and summer.
- Higher alcohol: One of the winemakers talked about needing higher alcohol to show the wine at its best. They tried one of his wines, which had an alcohol content of 15.3%. The tasters said they would have never known the alcohol was so high without seeing the label.
- Rosé Grenache: Another winemaker talked about the complexity of making this wine. Sadly, I didn’t take enough notes to be able to tell you why it’s a challenging wine to make. He believes Grenache Rosé is one of the best Rosés you can find. According to Wine Enthusiast, Grenache rosés are typically dry in style, with a broad, rich palate of watermelon, strawberry and lemon flavors.
- It’s all about neutral oak: All five of the winemakers said that they only use neutral oak.
- The move from blending to standalone: Until 10 years ago, Grenache was used as a blending grape. It’s only been in the past decade that the grape has become a great standalone wine.
- The popularity of Grenache: This grape is the number one grape grown in Southern Rhone. In the world, it’s the seventh most popular grape.
- Comparing this grape to Pinot Noir: There are two things that make the grapes similar: thin skins and a good pairing for a lot of foods. There is one thing that makes the grapes different: According to European Cellars, “Pinot is known for its delicate and complex flavor profile, with subtle hints of red fruits, earthy and spicy notes, and a silky texture. Grenache, on the other hand, is known for its bold, fruit-forward flavor profile, with prominent notes of red and dark fruits, spices, and a warm, full-bodied texture.”
- The history of International Grenache Day: The first International Grenache Day was celebrated in 2010 by the Grenache Symposium, and it takes place on the third Friday of every September.
How did you celebrate International Grenache Day?