What is it Garnacha?

Garnacha, as it’s known in Spain, mainly in the north and east of the country; found in the wine regions such as La Mancha, Rioja, Navarre, Penedès, Priorat, Utiel-Requena to name a few. In Rioja you’ll find it is blended with Tempranillo. Where it’s cooler, in Rioja Alta, you’ll mainly find Tempranillo but to the east in Rioja Baja, Grenache dominates. Here it’s warmer and so the vines benefit from a long ripening period. Grenache is also used in rosés in Spain.

Although Grenache can be found on its own, it is more often added to a blend, usually with Shiraz and Mourvèdre where its home is the southern Rhône valley in France, in particular in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It’s a very versatile grape, withstanding drought, heat and the windy Mistral (in the Rhône) and as part of a blend, can make wonderful rosés from the south of France; Tavel, Lirac, Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. It is also used to make fortified wines in Banyuls.

Think aromas and flavours of blackberry, black pepper, cherries, floral, meaty, perfumed, plums, raspberry, spicey, stewed plums, violets, barnyard, gamey, earthy, prune, savoury, smoky.

Grenache is also found over here in Australia; both on its own and in a blend, we have some examples in the Autumn issue of On the Vine, not to mention in the store! It’s one of the original varieties planted in Australia and in McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley you’ll find some dating back to the late 1800s. You tend to find it at home with Shiraz and Mourvèdre making up the GSM blend.

Back in January at London’s Australia Day Tasting, UK wine writer Sarah Ahmed held a McLaren Vale Grenache Master Class discussing the new breed of old vine Grenache wines which have been referred to as ‘warm climate’ Pinot Noir. We wish we could have been there to taste through the wines and discuss with the others in the session about the wines but thankfully she wrote about it here as well as her thoughts on some of the wines she tasted on the day


Row of vines in the Barossa Valley
Row of vines in the Barossa Valley