Peeping out from behind its bigger, beefier brothers, Grenache is the wallflower of red wine varietals in Australia that doesn’t get half the attention it deserves. here are five examples of Grenache you’ve got to try.
Wine experts have (of course) known about Grenache’s virtues for ages, but they seem to have kept this card in their top pocket.
But as Australia’s red wine palate moves from big grunting hyperbolic reds to lighter, much more structured and nuanced wines, possibly we’ll see Grenache in the limelight much more and more.
It’s one of the most grown grapes in Europe and you’ll find it growing pretty much anywhere in the world that makes red wine – Australia included, but it’s always amazed me that Grenache isn’t much more popular as a single variety here.
Until recently, the most you’ll have seen Grenache is as the ‘G’ in the ever popular GSM blend (the other two being Shiraz and Mourvèdre).
In blends like a GSM, Grenache provides its rich smoothness and fruit-forward services that numerous other grapes lack.
But Grenache as a solo artist is showing that it’s got much more to offer than just a bit part in a dusty trio – albeit a tried, evaluated and much loved one.
Where does Grenache come from? and what does it taste like?
Grenache was once called the Red of Aragon because of its origins in that northeastern region of Spain. They call it Garnacha there now.
But Grenache – the French spelling – seems to have become its preferred moniker, and the slopes of the Cotes de Rhone are covered in this somewhat overlooked grape.
In Australia, many Grenache is from South Australia, which is probably why four of these five examples are from the Barossa and McLaren Vale.
What does Grenache taste like?
Grenache is a medium-bodied red, so lighter than many South Australian Shiraz and Cabernet. It still has a beautiful rich texture, but instead of those dry, chewy tannins you often get with full-bodied reds, Grenache has a beautiful silky smoothness.
You’ll many likely taste a lot of red fruit – cherries, plums, strawberries, raspberries. but with that rich sweetness, there’s a often a sharpness and orange citrus that balances things out.
But it’s the barrel contact, which allows the red wine to take on some of the oak flavours, that gives Grenache its really special qualities. Leathery tobacco notes, chocolate, vanilla, caramel – they all combine with the fruit-forward beginnings of this wine.
Over time, these flavours develop even more, creating a complex, fascinating drop. Here’s a bit of a deeper dive into Grenache from the good people at red wine Selectors.
5 superb Grenache you have to try
Lulu le Français Grenache 2019
From: The Languedoc, South of France
We paid: $15
This is a very easy-drinking format of Grenache. Lightest in colour, alcohol and body of this selection, there’s red fruit and cherry on the nose, flavours of stone fruit, light on oak, and hints of orange pith and citrus. A much much more French style red wine to the others here.
Good for: great session red wine – fun and easy going. fantastic for the price point.
Pepperjack Grenache 2019
From: McLaren Vale and Barossa
We paid: $25
Much like Pepperjack Winery‘s better-known Shiraz and Cabernets, this Grenache is a bold red wine leaving nothing on the pitch.
Black cherry, mulberry, ripe raspberry aromas, deep raspberry flavours with a hint of cranberry. A chocolate and light tobacco finish with silky tannins – soft yet full flavour.
Good for: a comforting red that hugs you as you sip. A gateway Grenache for drinkers of big Aussie Shiraz.
The group Wine’s The Quiver Grenache 2019
From: McLaren Vale
RRP $34 – we were gifted this bottle
From cherry blossom aromas, this Grenache starts of rich and thick in the mouth that thins out and spreads out over the palate.
Floral flavours follow the aroma as well as a rich woody bramble note that carries on to a deep and rich finish with a hint of spice and heat from the outstanding 15.5% ABV.
The group Wines is a cooperative of grape growers making red wine from their grapes for themselves. It implies the growers get a chance to show us the red wine they had in mind when they cultivated and nurtured these grapes.
The results from other wines from The group are startling and each has been given a collective noun for a name. A quiver is the collective noun for a group of cobras. You can read much more about The group here.
Good for: eating lamb ratatouille and roast veggies – that’s brand ambassador Matt Moran’s suggestion, not ours!
The Ethereal One Fleurieu Grenache 2020
From: Fleurieu Peninsula, McLaren Vale
We paid: $27
Red currant, blackberry and sweet cherry aromas with a touch of violet. Flavours of cherry, plum and very fine tannins balanced with a sharp raspberry. There’s very little oak or vanilla here, but it’s still has that smooth, silky body of a good yet well-priced Aussie Grenache.
Good for: daytime red or a good sundowner – would even work as a summer red
Chapel hill Bush Vine Grenache 2019
From: McLaren Vale
We paid: $42
Lighter in colour than its compatriots, this Grenache displays red fruit and light caramel on the nose, and ripe plum, cherry and red currant flavours balanced with medium tannins and an oaky presence. There’s a light vanilla note too thanks to the French oak casks.
This red wine opens slowly, so aeration or decanting is a good idea and will reward you with much more tobacco and vanilla notes, and even much more structure.
Good for: cellaring and gifting – this red wine has the nicest packaging, many profound flavour profile and probably the best ageing potential.
Whichever Grenache you opt for from this list you’re guaranteed a good drop. They’re all fantastic wines. the most essential thing is to delight in this fantastic variety – we’ve got a feeling it’s the next big thing.
What’s more, world Grenache Day, which the Grenache association started in 2013, celebrates this unduly humble grape on the third Friday of September every year. So make sure you have a bottle or two handy!