Top countries producing this wine:
Grenache (formally Grenache Noir) is one of the world’s most widely planted red grape varieties, yet the name is only faintly familiar to the majority of wine drinkers. It is the dominant grape in the famed spicy wines of France’s southern Rhône, with Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan filling in the blend. Grenache is much cherished in those sunny vineyards, especially in the handcrafted beauties of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it achieves its greatest heights. In one of its more affordable incarnations, red Côtes-du-Rhône, Grenache is the quintessential bistro wine and has been adopted as the beloved everyday red of many a wine enthusiast.
Grenache thrives in a hot, dry Mediterranean type climate, ripening with high sugar levels and producing wines with potential alcohol levels of 15–16%. Much like California Zinfandel, these wines are fruity and soft on the palate, almost liqueur-like in texture, with low tannins and acidity. Grenache benefits greatly from blending with a sturdy grape like Syrah or Tempranillo, both of which add tannin and acidity to the soft, fleshy grape. In Australia, these Grenache blends are labeled simply “GSM” (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre).
With careful vineyard management, low yields and good winemaking, Grenache can be intensely concentrated, with gobs of red berry fruits made complex what the French call “garrigue” — a savory, fresh herb characteristic scented with sage, thyme, lavender and rosemary.
Grenache reputedly originated in Spain, where it is called Garnacha, and suitably for its friendly, open character, it is often used as a blending grape, notably in the wines of Priorat and Rioja. In Italy, Sardinia claims to be its birthplace; they call it Cannonau, and it produces that region’s finest red. California has its own band of fans called the “Rhône Rangers,” a group of winemakers devoted to increasing the popularity of Rhône-variety grapes.
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