Grenache | red grape variety | France | Spain Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Grenache grape variety
Wine glossary

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: France

Grenache is a late-ripening grape variety that thrives best in warmer climates such as Australia, California, Spain (where it is called Garnacha and forms the backbone of the famous Rioja wines), Sardinia (where it is called Cannonau and the The Oxford Companion to Wine says it is undoubtedly the same grape) and the south of France including the Languedoc and the Rhone Valley. It is a key grape in many of the great Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines and, on the other side of the river, the wonderful Tavel rosé.
Some people think it originated in Spain and gradually moved across the Pyrenees to Rousillon in southern France and then to the Rhone Valley and afterwards on to Italy. The Italians, of course, believe that it was originally from Sardinia and when the Spanish ruled that island from the 13th to the 18th century it was taken to Spain and then began its journey to France. The Vitis International Variety Catalogue gives the origin of this grape as Spain, however.
We love Grenache because some of our favourite winemakers do great things with this grape variety.
One of the best is Axel Prufer from the Languedoc who makes the amazing Fou du Roi which is a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault with a little Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a beautifully textured wine which as a leading once said to us when he tasted a similar wine ‘it dances lightly on the palate’.
We also love the light touch of the Saint Jean du Barroux Ventoux Le Rosé made by our friend Philippe Gimel in the Ventoux region of France. He makes red wines of great power and elegance but also can turn his hand to a light, elegant rosé made from this lovely grape.
Of course Philippe also produces some deep red wines such as the Saint Jean du Barroux Ventoux La Pierre Noire Rouge which is made from 85% Grenache grown in his mystical vineyard on the lower slopes of Mont Ventoux.
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