Body: Medium to full
Tannin: Low to medium (can be high, depending on the blend).
Acidity: Low to medium
Age: The majority are made to be drunk young but the best wines, such as those from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Priorat, age well.
Aka: Also known as Garnacha in Spain and Cannonau in Sardina.
Grenache (gruh-NASH), or Grenache Noir, to give it its full name, is one of the world’s most widely planted grape varieties – with good reason too, as it makes some delicious wines. It has its origins in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, but it is most closely associated with the wines of the Southern Rhône Valley in France and these two countries still dominate in terms of numbers of vines planted.
Grenache is a warm climate grape and ripens late in the season. It is quite drought resistant and does best in hot and dry conditions, especially when planted on the poorest soils, and the vines are pruned heavily as it is naturally high yielding. Its grapes are large with thin skins and, when they ripen, have very high sugar levels. As a result, the wines they make are relatively light in color with high alcohol levels and are quite full bodied.
Although Grenache is a high quality grape, it is generally blended with other varieties, such as Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault in the Rhône. This is because it is very complimentary within a blend, as it adds body and fruitiness without adding tannin or acidity, which are both naturally low in Grenache.
It has a distinct aroma of white pepper and its red fruit flavors of strawberry and raspberry are accompanied by spicy notes of clove and licorice, while oak adds flavors of vanilla and toast. The best wines are superb and can develop complex flavors of blackcurrants, black olives, coffee, leather and tar.
Varietal examples of Grenache were once relatively rare, but many are produced today and they can be very good. However, the true vocation of this fine grape is to play the leading role in a well-crafted blend.
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