10 Essential Facts on Grenache

Grenache (pronounced GRAH-NAHSH) is one of the most internationally successful grape varieties, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood. Sometimes voluptuous and juicy, and other times ethereal and remarkably pure – it’s difficult to pin down exactly how a typical Grenache is supposed to taste. Despite this, the best Grenache wines earn their seat at the table next to the more widely recognized Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, boasting impressive and varied expressions from all corners of the winemaking world. From Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Priorat to Sardinia and the Sierra Foothills, discover the world’s seventh most planted grape with these ten essential facts. 1. A GLOBAL GRAPE—According to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Grenache is the world’s seventh most planted wine grape, and the fifth among reds. A late-ripening variety, Grenache thrives in warm Mediterranean climates, and can be found growing everywhere from Provence to Paso Robles to Peru. 2. PARTNERS IN WINE—While Grenache can be enjoyed as a mono-varietal wine, its favorite playmates are Syrah and Mourvèdre , making for a true power trio. When combined, these three grapes strengthen each other’s best qualities to produce a synergetic recipe, proving that the sum can be greater than its parts. The GSM blend is celebrated in the Southern Rhône Valley and imitated across the globe. Grenache brings pure and juicy berry flavors while Syrah contributes a savory meatiness, y savoriness and Mourvèdre amps up the spice and tannic structure. 3. SPANISH AT HEART—Grenache is one of the world’s oldest grape varieties. While its genetic parentage remains unknown, its geographical origins are believed to lie in northeastern Spain, where it goes by the alias Garnacha (or Garnaxa in Catalan). Aragon’s gnarled Garnacha (pronounced GAR-NOTCH-UH) bush vines in such appellations as Calatayud , Cariñena , Campo de Borja , and Somontano yield some of Spain’s greatest value reds of character, while Catalonia is home to such celebrated Garnacha regions as Priorat , Montsant , and Terra Alta . 4. SIPPING WITH CERVANTES—Several linguists argue that the word “Garnacha” actually derives from “Vernaccia,” a name given to several Italian white grape varieties. In fact, the first printed mention of the word Garnacha comes from a 1613 short story written by Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes, in which the main character imbibes a selection of Italian whites, one of which is called Garnacha. 5. THE ITALIAN CONNECTION—Grenache likely first reached Sardinia’s shores by influence of the crown of Aragon following their conquest of the island in the early 14th century. In Sardinia, the grape is called “Cannonau” (pronounced CAN-OH-NOW) and remains the region’s most important variety. 6. A FRENCH FAVORITE—Trailing only Merlot , Grenache is France’s second most cultivated grape variety, its influence stretching from the Rhône Valley to Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon . Perhaps Grenache’s most prized wines are born in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Châteauneuf-du-Pape allows eighteen different grapes in its red blends, but Grenache most commonly serves as the backbone. The illustrious Château Rayas even opts to vinify their red Châteauneuf-du-Pape entirely with the one variety. While Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines can often be expensive, other Grenache blends such as Vacqueyras , Gigondas and entry-level Côtes-du-Rhône bottlings can offer delightful and affordable alternatives. 7. GRENACHE ON THE GO—Outside of Europe, Grenache yields fantastic results in New World regions that champion Rhône varieties. In the United States, look out for examples from California’s Sierra Foothills and Paso Robles , as well as from Washington State. Grenache was also once the most prominent grape variety in Australia, and today a number of winemakers down under continue to blend the grape with Shiraz. 8. THE RED, WHITE, & GRIS—As is the case with Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, Grenache also comes in mutated white and pink-berried variants that are technically genetically identical. Grenache Blanc is one of the most pivotal contributors to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, as well as to a number of white blends from Southern France and Spain. Grenache Gris is primarily cultivated in the same regions, and can often impart the palest of pink tints to its wines. 9. THINK PINK—Along with Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsault, Grenache plays a major role in Provence and its tidal wave of rosés that flood wine shop shelves each year. These dry, herbaceous pink wines have become a summer staple, in large part thanks to Grenache’s refreshing berry flavors. Just to the north in the Rhône Valley, Grenache is the most important grape in Tavel , an appellation that produces only rosé, though these wines are characteristically a bit meatier and darker hued than its Provençal counterparts. 10. SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT—Grenache lovers can pair an entire meal exclusively with the one grape, starting from white and rosé, continuing to red and ending with dessert. In both the Roussillon and Rhône regions, winemakers use Grenache to craft “vin doux naturels.” Made in such appellations as Maury , Banyuls , and Rasteau , these fortified sweet wines most resemble Port , and the best bottles can similarly age for decades, if not a century. — Bryce Wiatrak Do you have a go-to Grenache? Scan the label or search by name to add your tasting notes on Delectable.

Château Rayas

Réservé Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grenache Blend 2004

Elegant and extremely perfumed, a nice juicy red fruit core featuring ripe cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, followed by dried lavender, meaty beef jus, orange peel, undergrowth, sweet tobacco, charcoal, and intense black pepper. Delicious sweet red fruit flavors on entry with some dried apricots that lead to a umami rich midpalate filled with meaty notes, iron, and a slightly saline minerality that intermingles with intense peppery notes that linger for some time. Incredible silky mouth feel on this midbodied red, very light in structure but intense in flavors. — a year ago

Evan, Severn and 1 other liked this

Vignobles Brunier ( Frédéric & Daniel Brunier )

Mégaphone Ventoux Grenache Syrah 2015

Meaty on the nose, limestone, purple flowers. Cherry jam. Tongue-stripping tannins and garrigue in the mouth. Herbaceous and funky. Very mineral driven. A good compromise between pleasure and seriousness. — 3 years ago

Kimberly liked this

Pala

Riserva Cannonau di Sardegna

Intense dark red fruit with a lot of earthiness and spice. Full bodied with a long smooth finish. Easy drinking to the last drop. — 4 years ago

Michael liked this

Donkey & Goat

El Dorado Grenache Blanc 2014

14' Donkey & Goat Grenache Blanc. Nose- Chalky- erasers, marmalade. Palate- Wildflowers, nectarines, canned peaches(the syrup) Light acidity. Decanted it... modest sediment? Absolutely delicious. At this price point...I'm thinking a case! — 3 years ago

David, Eric and 41 others liked this
David L

David L Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Jody Scharf @Mike Rowe Please do not drink it too cold. Remember I scored it 90 points. Very good bottle wine for the money. See if you agree with my write up . Cheers! @Joe Lucca
Shawn R

Shawn R Influencer Badge Premium Badge

Sounds yummy!
David L

David L Influencer Badge Premium Badge

@Shawn G. Rose I enjoyed it

Bodegas Alto Moncayo

Veraton Campo de Borja Garnacha 2014

Geoff Troup
9.1

At first all new oak and hot alcohol. Like canilla vodka. With a three hour plus decant...what a wine this is. Modern on its stunning power, massive black pepper, chewy tannin, dried cherry and raspberry, slight bread quality. Vanilla and menthol on the finish. Not subtle, but spellbinding and a nice value. — 2 years ago

Jack liked this

Cellers de Scala Dei

Prior Priorat Grenache Blend 2014

An order of Carthusian monks first found their way to Scala Dei in 1194 at the invitation of Alfonso I. The name "Scala Dei" means "stairway to heaven," and a visit through these transportive ruins remains a critical first stop if ever visiting the region. While monks no longer work the cellars, the Scala Dei wines remain solid - and often a relative value in comparison to those who've arrived in the last half century. Prior is Scala Dei's mid-tier of their three Priorat reds. High octane flavors of licorice, pepper, black plum, violet, and blueberry find balance with spicier, more elegant tones of sandalwood, rosewater, frankincense and gingerbread. While 15% abv, you’d never know per the bright acidity and chalky tannins - yet there remains, a warming medieval intrigue that conjures romantic images of hearthstones and velvet. A nice showing from Priorat’s pioneering monastery. — 2 years ago

Maria, Julia and 3 others liked this

Sine Qua Non

Stein California Grenache 2012

SQN Stock & Stein. Rating both the Syrah and Grenache on potential because, quite frankly, both are very tight right now. Both display black fruits, cassis, herbs and pepper. Full bodied, great depth and length. Both were decanted for 5 plus hours. I would suggest waiting a while on both. They should drink well for 10 plus years. — 5 years ago

Steve, Derek and 7 others liked this

Château de Saint-Cosme

Le Claux Gigondas Red Rhone Blend 2013

Super dark fruit profile. Oak is definitely present. Like my Grenache a little more light on its feet, and with some acid. Obviously a quality wine, but not made in the style that hits me where it should. On day three took on some curious umami-soy-liquid aminos on the nose. Slightly oxidized, but actually showed some real depth and complexity. Maybe this is just a lay down for 10 kind of wine. — a year ago

Shay, David and 2 others liked this

Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe

La Crau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red Rhone Blend 2012

Always love the layers and energetic burst these wines show on the palate. Juxtapositions of ripe, cooked, and dried fruits bounce around with crushed stones, wood spice, savory herbs, and coffee tones. Alcohol a touch intrusive while the tannins give some edge. — 4 years ago

Cardedu

Caladu Cannonau di Sardegna 2013

Very complex with layers of flavor. During its peak it seems to have hints some leather spice and minerals and even perhaps a grass or dirt. It is definitely not fruit forward. This is one of my favorite wine to just sit and sip. It's definitely a wine for Scotch and Brandy drinkers. It feels very rustic as in definitely not refined. It is to Wine what Grandma's comfort food would be to a great dinner. One thing I would recommend to get the fullest out of it would be decanted as much as you possible. In fact I find it best 3 days after I've opened it unless I decant. — 3 years ago