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Adnams Grape of the Month - Grenache

By Sarah Groves, also posted in News on

Grenache grapes at Domaine de la Cadenette, RhôneFor newcomers to wine, the red grape variety Grenache (along with Chardonnay for whites) is probably one of the friendliest grapes to get to know. Okay, so it doesn't leap out of the glass and shake your hand, but its generosity of flavour (ripe raspberries, black cherry, redcurrant acidity, pepper) and relatively low tannins tend to create softer wines that are a joy to drink. In other words, the gentle tannins create wines that are not harsh or mouth-puckering, and do not necessarily need to be accompanied with food to make them enjoyable. As one of the most widely-planted red grape varieties in the world, you can find a huge variety of styles depending on where Grenache is grown. It prefers hot, dry and well-drained soils and so does particularly well in the warmer regions of Spain, Southern Rhône and the South of France, as well as California and South Australia. It's a versatile grape variety that is capable of producing dark and concentrated 'vin doux naturels' (such as Banyuls in the South of France), robust, juicy red wines, and fresh, vibrant and fruity rosés, and excels as a blending partner. In Rioja, it is usually blended with Tempranillo, and in the Rhône it is commonly mixed with Syrah. You can find excellent examples of Grenache bottled as a single variety from old, dry-grown vines in both South Australia and California where winemakers tend to gently crush the grapes and leave the resulting mixture of skins and juice to macerate together to extract all that lovely deep purple colour and associated flavours from the skins. In Australia, as well as single varietal wines, you can find Grenache bottled as a 'GSM' - or Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre - and in the case of the GSM from Mitchell Estate in the Clare Valley the 'S' stands for Sangiovese. It makes vibrantly-coloured, sometimes neon-pink rosés, which are full of bright raspberry and redcurrant aromas. Spain makes some of the best value examples. Adnams Fine Wine Manager, Rob Chase, explains his love for the variety: "Of all the red grape varieties that I taste regularly, Grenache consistently remains my favourite. I qualify this rather rash statement with the word consistently, because there have been days when I thought Cabernet Franc was just the business, or believed that Petit Verdot, Fer Servadou or Touriga Naçional were worthy guests on my desert island table. But no – I  remain loyal to Grenache, and on the hottest days, I would go for a lightly macerated, southern Rhône red or rosé interpretation - made from young vines. On cooler days, I would settle on an old-vine Garnacha from northern Spain, and on the coldest of days, it would be made from 125-year-plus Barossa Heritage Grenache. And it’s partly because Grenache is the joker in the pack, the flibbertigibbet of grape varieties that I like it so much. The troubled youth; the rebel without a cause – the misfit. It plays a wonderful starring role on the world stage of vinous blends, but as a solo performer, Grenache continues to lurk in the shadows. Its juicy, redcurrant character is enhanced by its propensity to rush headlong into super-ripeness, yet it handles its subsequently quite high alcohol with aplomb and guile, and its wondrously fresh, natural acidity encourages oft repeated visits to the temple of Grenache." You can find a range of Grenache-based wines in Adnams Cellar & Kitchen stores available for free tasting. Why not give this grape variety a try this month?

Grape of the monthHere's some of our favourite examples of Grenache:

Red wines 2011 Garnacha Tinto, Cruz de Piedra, Calatayud, Spain £6.99 Great value, old-vine Garnacha with dense, spicy cherry, damson and liquorice flavours. 2012 Domaine Pugibet Syrah/Grenache Vin de Pays de l'Herault £7.99 Made from Syrah and Grenache, this is full flavoured and fruity and is perfect for picnics or a light lunch at a modest 9% abv. 2012 Costières de Nîmes, Domaine de la Cadenette, Rhône £7.99 A blend of Grenache and Syrah, this is has fresh, juicy black fruit and plum skin flavours with a hint of wild thyme. 2008 Grenache,'GSM' Mitchell Estate, Clare Valley £13.99 The Mitchell family of South Australia's prestigious Clare Valley used fruit sun-baked to super-ripeness to make this rich, spicy gem. Pace yourself as this is a hefty 15% abv. 2010 Télégramme, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe £24.79 Heartwarming, cheery, spicy Grenache with juicy raspberry, sloe and damson flavours and hints of herbs. Rosé wines 2010 Garnacha Rosado, Cruz de Piedra, Bodegas Virgen de la Sierra, Calatayud £6.99 Delightful rosado from old vine Garnacha. 2012 Garnacha Rosado, Bodegas Tempore, Vinos de la Tierra £7.79 Juicy and mouthfilling. Perfect served chilled on a hot summer's day. 2012 The Adnams Selection Rosado, 'Monte Arlas', Navarra £8.99 Deep, vibrant pink colour; aromas of fresh strawberries, crushed red fruit flavours and appetising dryness.    


Sarah Groves