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Grenache Greatness

Is Grenache the most underrated variety in the world? I think so.  Although it is the most widely planted red grape in the world, for many years Grenache has been overshadowed by Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Dismissed by many as ‘a blending variety’ or derided as a source of soft simple ‘tutti-fruity’ reds, Grenache has not always been appreciated for its inherent qualities.

But the tide is turning. There is now an international Grenache Day (every 3rd Friday in September), and a non-profit grass roots international Grenache Association that works to improve Grenache’s profile on the world stage. There are even Grenachistas!

Grenache has a long history in Australia. It was the second of several hundred varieties of cuttings collected by James Busby during his voyages through Spain and France and shipped to Australia in the 1830’s.

Planted widely in McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley and the Riverina with smaller amounts also found in the Clare Valley, it formed the cornerstone of the fortified wine industry in Australia.

Today the surviving old-bush vines are being coaxed to produce world-class Grenache and GSM (Grenache Syrah, Mourvèdre) blends.

This trend is reflected in the wines of Langton’s Classification VI, with the Langton’s Classified ‘Excellent’ Charlie Melton Nine Popes now joined by the ‘Exceptional’ Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old and the Langton’s Classified Excellent, John Duval Plexus, Noon Eclipse Grenache Blend and Seppeltsfield Para Liqueur Tawny, highlighting the extraordinary quality and collectability of Grenache based wines.

Other top producers of Grenache and Grenache blends include d’Arenberg, Head Wines, Landhaus, Sons of Eden, Spinifex, Teusner, Torbreck, Turkey Flat amongst others.

Outside of Australia, Grenache flourishes in France (with a staggering 90 993 ha under vine) forming the cornerstone for the red wines of the Southern Rhône including Côtes du Rhône, Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is also widely grown in Spain (with an impressive 74 178 ha under vine) included in the red and rosé wines of Rioja and Navarra and blended skillfully with Samsó in Priorat. Grenache is also grown in Italy, most notably in Sardinia where it is known as Cannonau.

Grenache can be made in a variety of styles; from soft simple, strawberry scented wines made by carbonic maceration to richer, concentrated old-vine styles and spicy, powerful age-worthy blends. Versatile and approachable upon release, Grenache’s key attributes are perfume and low tannins that contribute to a velvety supple mouth-feel. It’s delicious in all its forms, so if you have not yet discovered the wonders of Grenache and GSM blends don’t wait! Discover Langton’s range of Grenache wines today.

Andrea Pritzker

 

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