There is a lot of wine to drink out there and you have countless grape varieties and regions of the world to choose from when you go into your local beverage depot. Today marks one of those days where a grape variety is campaigning for your attention, and that grape is Grenache.
Grenache is a red grape whose origins trace back to Spain (also known as “Garnacha”). It is believed to have roots within the 14th century Kingdom of Aragon, which included regions like Catalonia, Rioja, Sardinia (Italy) and Roussillon (France). Grenache has thin skins so it doesn’t make wines of deep color, but they are packed with richness and fruitiness giving the wines made from this grape versatility.
Grenache is often blended with Syrah in Côtes du Rhône reds, tempering the aggressive tannins, acids, and peppery spice. It is also the base for the great wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and its surrounding “Crus” like Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Garnacha can be found in many Rioja wines, where it is blended with Tempranillo. Further east, Grenache shows up in the bold wines of Priorat, where it is blended with old vine Carignan, and sometimes Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. Sometimes, Garnacha will be bottled on its own in Spanish examples from regions like Navarra and Campo de Borja.
Wineries in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara County, California make Côtes du Rhône-style blends based on Grenache as well. You will also find Grenache in many Spanish rosé wines, and as a component of southern French rosés. Australia has dry-farmed old bush vine Grenache wines that are dense, powerful, and packed with black fruit flavors. Additionally, you will find Grenache in Sardinia, better known as “Cannonau” over there. The style of wines from this Italian island tend to give you caramelized red fruit flavors and spices.
So how about some options so you, too, can celebrate International Grenache Day? If none of these do it for you, well…pick up a Grenache of your choosing and enjoy (whether you open it today or some other time).
Olivier & Lafont Gigondas ($23): Let it be known that Gigondas is one of my favorite red wine regions of the world. It offers consistency of quality at a fraction of the price of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but offers a little more depth than a wine marked “Côtes du Rhône.” Most Gigondas wines start in the low-$20s, so this example gets you into the wildflower and herb-scented reds of this appellation at a lower barrier to entry.
Evodia Garnacha (can be found as low as $9): This wine has long delivered good quality, 100% Garnacha ever since I started getting into wine. It is full-bodied and fruity (strawberry) with a touch of baking spice. Simple yet pleasurable, this will be very satisfying on a cool autumn evening.
Argiolas Cannonau di Sardegna Costera ($17): Argiolas is one of my favorite Sardinian wine producers as I have never been disappointed by a bottle. Argiolas ages the wine in new French oak to add a nutmeg/cinnamon spice to the raspberry and black cherry fruit. A long leathery finish makes this wine a terrific value.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Clos de Gilroy Grenache, Central Coast ($15): Randall Grahm is one of the earliest “Rhone Rangers” of California, and his work with the Grenache variety has been well-documented for decades. With small percentages of Mourvedre and Syrah added for more dark fruit, spice, and savory character, this is a fine way to be introduced to a New World Grenache.