Grenache Wines

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007 at 12:00 am

The grape variety of Grenache (pronounced as "gren-ash") is most likely the most widely planted kind of red wine grape in the world today. This particular type of grape ripens quite late so it needs to be planted in climates that are hot and dry. Examples of regions where this particular grape is found is in Spain and the south of France.

This grape varietal is described to be commonly spicy, berry-flavored as well as soft on the palate with quite a high alcohol content. It simply needs thorough control of yields for best results. This type generally lacks acid, color and tannin and is most typically merged together with other varieties such as Carignan Cinsaut and Syrah.

Grenache is the leading variety in most Southern Rhone wines, most especially those in Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is commonly over 80% of the blend. In other countries such as Australia, it is generally blended in "GSM" blends with Syrah and Mourvèdre. This is also used to make the rose wines in France or Spain. This is especially true in the Tavel district that is located in the Côtes du Rhône.

The high sugar levels of this particular grape variety have simply led to its use in fortified wines which includes the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyul as the source of most Australian port. 

It is speculated that Grenache might have originated from Spain, maybe in Aragon but has since extended over to the Pyrenees into the south of France as well as the rest of the Mediterranean. It is exactly the same grape variety as Cannonau which is declared to have originated in Sardinia. This actually might imply that it could possibly be from Sardinia itself and was only imported to Spain when the country was under Aragon rule.

Like the Pinot family, the Grenache grape variety comes in white, grey and black versions. It also comes in a "mutant" version which has an altered epidermis. The name by which the standard "black "Grenache" comes in is known as the "Garnatxa Fina" in Catalan and is the more familiar version of it. The "hairy Grenache" is known by the name Lladoner Pelud. Its leaves look a lot like Macabeo but only with fine little hairs.

There have been recent research in Spain that indicates that there is an uncanny clone which is able to produce smaller berries with a much thicker skin. This only means that that type of grape has a greater potential for making fine wine than the original. Currently, this is an active area of research for the Grenache grape variety.

The Grenache Gris is the one that is widely planted in France but due to the recent vine pull schemes, it is declining. The Grenache blanc is a chief variety in its own right, most especially in the country of France where it is actually an integral part of many white wines from the Rhone. It is commonly blended with Roussanne.

The Grenache might not be able to hold its own against the Pinot Noirs or the other wines but it is nevertheless integral for without it, the existence of other wines would not be possible.


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