While the popular Rhône grape Grenache may be one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, you may not know it by name:
- Grenache is often blended with Syrah and Mourvedre in a blend sometimes referred to as a GSM or Grenache isn’t even listed.
- Lots and lots of Grenache finds its way into rose wines of Provence and southern Rhône, so all you see is a pretty pink wine without thinking too much about the grape inside.
- Grenache is used in dessert and fortified wines in France, Spain, and Australia.
- Simply, Grenache based wines don’t always say GRENACHE on them.
For example, Grenache is the primary grape in many of the wines of the southern Rhône where it is known by the region where it’s grown:
- Rasteau (read Go Grenache, Go Rasteau for more plus pairings!)
- Lirac (read “Discover Lirac’s Southern Rhône Palate with the #Winophiles” for wines and pairings to go with them!)
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape (read about my amazing adventure with these wines here as well as pairings!).
Here in the US, however, Grenache wines will usually say Grenache somewhere on the bottle — if you can find them!
Seriously — don’t expect to go to the grocery store and find a section that says Grenache…
With International Grenache Day 2020, Friday, September 18 we will of course celebrate one of my favorite grapes– and see how far this Rhône has roamed!
Of course with COVID, we can’t roam the Rhône ourselves but we can roam with Rhône here at home with wine in our glass and ZOOM events like this one this afternoon at 2pm Pacific
when the Black Wine Guy goes live with Sonja Magdevski of Clementine Carter and Mark Adams of Ledge to celebrate International #GrenacheDay!
Both of these winemakers are favorites of mine. Follow this link to get their Grenache and a donation goes to Hospice du Rhone: https://www.hospicedurhone.org/news/index.php?id=171
Because September is also California Wine Month, we decided to feature two Grenache wines from California, both made by wineries near and dear to our hearts — and to our homes!
- 2017 Clos des Amis Grenache, South Mountain Vineyard, Ventura County CA
read about harvest with violins in the vineyard here
- 2013 The Ojai Vineyard Grenache Special Bottling, John Sebastiano Vineyard
read about harvest, climate change, and new hybrid grapes
Coming up next on Wine Predator Syrah and Viognier from the northern Rhone and a Rhone that roamed: Roussane from California. Don’t miss out — subscribe!
We paired both of these wines with a simple (yet beautiful!) meat and cheese plate that included some freshly grilled sausage, prosciutto, salami, brie and Manchego as well as Marconi almonds and Sue’s special roasted tomatoes with garlic on goat cheese (OMG I love this so much I could live on it and it is SO GOOD with Grenache!)
Sue and I shared the wines and the meal with my spouse and with Musikaravan Violinists Etienne Gara and YuEn Kim who are traveling in a 71 VW van to visit vineyards and farms and perform in them for workers.
And this night they played for us!
Scroll down for a video!
2017 Clos des Amis Grenache, South Mountain Vineyard, Ventura County CA
SRP $24; sample for my review
Color: Ruby going toward garnet, mauve rim
Nose: Smells so good! Raspberry and baking spices, exuberant with fruit and spice, rose geranium.
Palate: Rose petal and raspberry, nicely dry, a very nice balance between richness and freshness. Mouthwatering acidity, fantastic balance between all of the expressive elements in the wine.
Pairing: I loved the tomatoes and goat cheese with the wine. Everything else was great. The almonds were very very good– richness of the almonds with the tart fruit. Brie also brings out fruit in the wine, while the acidity of the wine tames the brie. Etienne feels that California wines are nice but he tires of the fruit. Etienne wanted the wine with venison. The wine was so much better with the food. The high acidity was willing to tackle the rich creaminess.
2013 The Ojai Vineyard Grenache Special Bottling, John Sebastiano Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, CA
SRP unavailable; Sue purchased this.
Color: Super dense, blood red, like you are bleeding out, fresh blood,
Nose: Raspberry, cherry fruit, black pepper, fresh, Etienne smokey reminds me of an evening by the fire.
Palate: Very herbaceous, raspberry, raspberry leaf tea, black currant tea, lemon eucalyptus, menthol, rose petals.
I love the brightness, this wine is so alive even though it is seven years old.
Sue was into the complexity of it all. If you are a Grenache lover, you should get to know The Ojai Vineyard. So incredibly rich and wonderful with the food. It reminded Etenine of a BBQ in Southern France. Rich limestone expression of France. This wine expresses the terroir of the land. Etienne felt that possibly the meal was a bit overwhelming to the wine and might be enjoyed on its own. I loved the wine before the food, but with the food it was a bit overwhelmed.
Pairing: Fabulous with the grilled Italian sausage. Really just plain fabulous.
and here’s a brief clip from our Grenache Day celebration: