Over the years of writing my blog I have said many times the main purpose of the blog is to inform and educate all of us, myself included, on all things to do with wine. One of my fun topics and missions is to introduce you to different varietals of wine. In the past we have discussed Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and so on. Today I have selected a new wine/grape to report on called Grenache (pronounced “gra-nosh”) which is a relatively unknown grape in the United States.
It is believed the Grenache grape most likely originated in Spain although some claim it was first grown in the Southern Rhone Valley in France. Today it is one of the most widely planted red wine grapes in the world with France and Spain being the two largest growers of the grape. Spain led the world in the largest number of acres planted until the early 2000s when the famous Spanish Tempranillo began to assume the lead in acreage. It became the third largest planted grape in France behind Merlot and Carignan. While most French Grenaches are blends, Grenache is also used in some of the most expensive wines produced in the world…especially in Southern Rhone regions of Châteauneuf-du-Pape where some bottles are priced between $750 and $1,000 per bottle.
There are about 456,000 acres of Grenache grapes planted worldwide. Here is a list of the major regions and their acreage:
- France: 250,000 acres
- Spain: 170,000 acres
- Italy: 55,300 acres
- United States: 10,000 acres
- Australia: 8,000 acres
A Grenache vine grows best in a dry, warm, windy climate. The vines bud early and need a long growing season to fully ripen. Due to the need for a long growing season they are often one of the last grapes to be harvested. The long ripening process can cause higher sugar levels making Grenache-based wines likely to have higher alcohol levels, at times in excess of 15% ABV.
As I mention earlier, Grenache is often used as a blending grape. In the traditional wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape it is blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre and can make some powerful wines. Grenache tends to add body, sweetness and fruitiness to a wine.
Grenache is typically lighter in color, similar to Pinot Noir, and is low in tannins. It is a medium- to full-bodied wine depending on its alcohol levels. The nose throws off hints of berry fruit and on the palate you will often have flavors of strawberry, black cherry, raspberry, tobacco and cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor is very common in Grenache and is often a giveaway to the Grenache in a blended red wine.
2013 Dark Star Cellars Grenache
My long-time friend Tom Borger Sr. introduced me to the Dark Star Cellars winery a number of years before his passing. Dark Star Cellars was owned and operated by a business associate of Tom’s. Of all the Dark Star wines produced their blended Grenache is one of our favorites. I will tell you that Tom and I settled a lot of the world’s problems over a bottle (or two) of Dark Star Grenache.
The wine is lighter in color and is primarily Grenache with some Syrah and Zinfandel blended in. These two wines help improve the mid-palate and the finish. On the nose you get hints of berry fruit, citrus and coffee. On the palate there is a fruitiness which leads to a slightly peppery finish with a mouth feel that is mildly chewy and of a good length.
Grenache wines generally are approachable and pair well with lighter meats such as lamb as well as grilled (burgers go great with Grenache) and smoked meats. Grenache also pairs well with mildly spiced foods and cheeses.
Grenache wines will not age as well as other red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or bold red blends. They should age and pair well up to eight to 10 years and then begin to fade off.
I have become fond of Grenache wine and have a number of bottles of the 2013 Dark Star Cellars Grenache in my cellar. I highly recommend you try Grenache when you can. I will say it may be difficult to find at times, but it is always available on the internet.
August Wine Dinner
Our next wine club dinner, with a summer theme, is planned for Tuesday, August 20, 2019, at LEX 530 Metropolitan Event Center in Elkhart. Details on price and food/wine pairings will be coming soon!
As always I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you are reading this blog for the first time please consider subscribing while you are on the website. This way you’ll get our reviews and articles in your email. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,
Calendar of Events
- August 1 – International Albariño Day
- August 4 – National White Wine Day
- August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
- August 29 – International Cabernet Day
- September 20 – International Grenache Day
- November 7 – International Merlot Day
- November 14 – International Tempranillo Day
- November 20 – International Zinfandel Day
- December 4 – Cabernet Franc Day
- December 20 – National Sangria Day
- December 31 – National Champagne Day