Today we are going to speak about Grenache. This red grape is thought to have its origin in the northern Spanish province of Aragón. Others, though, trace it back to the island of Sardinia, while some believe that it came from the italian city of Vernazza, Liguria.
Widely planted around the world and perfectly adapted to hot, dry climates, for many years Grenache was used mostly to produce bulk wine. Fortunately, over the last two decades, and particularly in Spain, a better understanding of the grape's characteristics and the recovery of some truly unique old vines have dramatically increased the quality of Grenache-based wines.
A highly productive variety, Grenache can be used to craft single varietal wines and also blends with grapes such as Carignan, Tempranillo or Syrah. As for its white counterpart, it is still chiefly produced in its single varietal form. However, winemakers are beginning to match it with Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and also with some sweeter varieties like Malvasia.
Grenache wines are juicy and expressive, have an intense colour, a high alcohol content, and typically display notes of wild berries, strawberries, flowers and aromatic herbs. If the grapes are grown in a good terroir and are properly vinified, Grenache wines can be both elegant and extremely enjoyable.
Its genetic evolution over the course of history has given birth to several related varieties, besides the already mentioned White Grenache. Thus, today we can enjoy wines produced from Hairy Grenache, Alicante Bouschet (a.k.a Garnacha Tintorera) and Grey Grenache.
Spain has more hectares of Grenache vineyards that any other country in the world. The region of Aragón, with the Campo de Borja and Calatayud Designations of Origin, is a particularly interesting place to look, as it is probably the craddle of Grenache. Not far from there, Catalonia also possesses a treasure of old Grenache vines located in the hot spots of Montsant and Priorat. Moreover, let's not forget La Rioja, which is increasingly using the grape to enhace the smoothness of many blends. Finally, we want to emphasize what is currently happening in the Gredos Mountains, a region many consider to be the biggest hit in the Spanish wine scene since the Priorat blast twenty-five years ago.
Grenache. A grape worth knowing.
And to know it better...
Alaya Tierra 2013: Old-vines Alicante Bouschet (a.k.a. Garnacha Tintorera) from Jumilla. Quintessentially Mediterranean and ridiculously delicious.
Furvus 2011: Excellent wine from Montsant, a successful blend of Grenache and Merlot.
Breca 2012: by Jorge Ordóñez. It is a high-altitude, textbook Grenache from its supposedly historical craddle in Calatayud.
Borsao Tres Picos 2013: A classic among Spanish Grenaches. A simply unbeatable value from Campo de Borja.
Gabaxo 2013: French finesse from... Rioja. A sophisticated Grenache by Olivier Rivière.
Guerinda Tres Partes 2013: Young, fruity Grenache from Navarre.