Grenache: A Very Versatile Grape
By John Dunham
Two years ago on World Grenache Day, we participated in a virtual wine tasting where we tasted 5 great Spanish Garnacha wines.
This year, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend a seminar on the Grenache wines from both Spain and France hosted by Wines of Grenache/Wines of Garnacha (depending on the side of the border).
Grenache (we are sticking with the French spelling) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is also a very old varietal, historically originating in northwestern Spain.
The grape also comes in a wide range of forms from white to red to gray to a purple version known as Lladoner Pelud.
When you are drinking a Cannonau, Gamay del Trasimeno, Navarro, Roussillon, or a Tentillo you are drinking a form of Grenache.
As the representatives at this event said, With Grenache, you can do almost anything.
This versatile grape does best in hot dry areas with poor soils, and generally, does not require either irrigation or pesticides.
Grenache is found in a variety of different wines, particularly French Rhone wines like Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the blend.
Spanish Garnacha tinta (red Garnacha) is dominant in the DOC/DOQ wines of Rioja and Priorat and in the Navarra and southern Aragonese and Catalonian regions.
White Granache is most common in wine from Spain’s northeastern regions, and in French Rhone blends.
Both the red and white varietals have distinct and somewhat similar flavor profiles. The reds feature dominant berry and strawberry fruits and some spicy notes. Whites tend toward the citrus and herby.
We sampled a total of 5 wines at the tasting seminar that showed the depth of the grape.
It is a 100 percent White Garnacha varietal and had a light gold-green color.
The nose was floral and on the palate, the wine was balanced but crisp, with nice mineral and marine notes.
There was an underlying citrus with an overlying white peach and some sweet lychee notes on the end.
This wine would pair with fish dishes, and I would go well with a clam sauce or seafood pasta.
The color was golden with a nose that reminded us of cheesecake with some vanilla and jackfruit (the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum).
This was a fruit forward wine with some raisin notes suggesting a bit of oxidation in the bottle; however, it was a wine that the experts suggested was suited to age, something that would bring out more nutty notes.
This wine pairs well with a local veal and cream sauce dish, but we would suggest it with gamier poultry like turkey.
Cherry red in color, the nose was footy at the start but opened to red fruit notes. Smooth across the palate and with very light tannins, the wine brought forth cherry, blackberry and plum notes with a light spiciness up front.
The wine would be a great food wine, pairing well with a range of meats from lean pork loin to lamb.
This was a new world style wine, very fruit forward with vanilla notes from the oak. Rich with ripe cherry and a bit of grapefruit pith, the wine had a spiciness to the finish.
It’s definitely a grilled meat wine, but the fruitiness makes it a good wine to enjoy all by itself.
It is a blend of Grenache, Grenache Gris, and Carignan. Light red in color with orange tints, the nose had notes of toffee, butterscotch, and cassis.
The wine was very sweet with raisin, cream and coffee flavors. It brought to mind coffee-fudge ice cream.
More than just a dessert wine, it was recommended to try this Grenache with Chinese food, cured meats, and even Mexican mole dishes.
From light citrusy whites to hearty reds and even as one of the main ingredients in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Grenache is available for every taste, every meal, and every occasion.