Is Grenache On Your Radar? It Should Be!
Grenache might be the most underrated wine grape on planet earth. Whether you’re drinking grenache from France, Spain (garnacha or alicante), Portugal (garnacha tinta), or Italy (cannonau), the range of quality, price, and style is so vast, you could easily take a year just to explore its many facets.
Of course, to complicate matters further, there’s both red and white grenache, and many rosé’s—especially benchmark examples from France’s Rhone Valley and Provence—are also made with grenache.
So without writing a book about the grape, let’s just go over what you need to know to get started.
Grenache Red Wines
Grenache noir is a black grape that’s widely planted throughout Europe. Sure, you’ll find some in North America, but it’s not nearly as popular or well-known as cab sauv, merlot, or pinot noir, so you won’t see it as a varietal wine on too many shelves.
However, in France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, it’s hard to miss. As one of the primary grapes in the Côtes -du-Rhone, it often makes up most of the blend. In Châteauneuf-de-Pape, it’s one of 11 allowed grapes, but top bottlings, like Château de Beaucastel, are often 100% grenache. Ditto in Spain, where grenache is the primary grape in Priorat—the land of Vega Sicilia, one of the most collectible wines in the world. But that’s not to say it’s not for everyday drinking. You can easily find a good, value-priced grenache for less than $20, and it’s almost always excellent.
Flavors and aromas in red grenache range from black cherry, raspberry, and blueberry, to anise, tobacco, black pepper, dried herbs, lavender, cinnamon, and baking spices. It is typically medium-bodied with a fine tannic structure and can be very high in alcohol, depending on the vintage.