What is Grenache Wine?
Grenache wine is produced in regions where the climate is dry and hot. Notably, the southern European wine growing regions of the Rhône Valley in France and Aragon in Spain grow Grenache grapes.
James Busby was the first to bring Grenache to Australia, among many other cuttings, in the mid 19th Century. The Grenache grape was selected for its robust qualities as it could be used in the production of port-style fortified wines. Later, Christopher Rawson Penfold introduced the Grenache varietal to South Australia. While the Penfold’s name is most notably associated with its world beating Grange, a Shiraz blend, the family explored viticulture with early Grenache in the second half of the 19th Century.
Common Grenache Wine characteristics
Typically the colour of Grenache wine is a dark, slightly menacing purple. Grenache aromas include those of spice, red plum, raspberry, cherry elixir and, when developed, meaty or gamey notes. The palate of a typical Grenache wine is fruit driven, often very plush and shows sweet red berries, spice and wild raspberry notes. South Australia is the most accomplished Grenache growing region in Australia as the hotter climate suits the optimum growing conditions for the variety. Grenache is a crowd-pleasing, short-term cellaring grape variety.
Pairing food with Grenache Wine
Pairing Grenache and turkey works very well. Game, such as duck or goose, pairs equally well. Meaty fish like a grilled tuna steak brings out the best in Grenache. In fact any grilled meat serves this wine well. Perhaps surprisingly the humble sausage is wonderful accompaniment making glass of Grenache or a Grenache blend a worthy companion to the pub grub staple bangers and mash.
Grenache and cheese pairing should lean toward softer, washed-rind varieties. Less crumbly feta goes well with a Grenache wine, as does most creamy cheese. Fresh goat’s milk cheese will work together with the red fruits present in Grenache.
Notable Grenache Wine regions
The Rhône wine region is situated in the South of France. The most famous wine from this region is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This wine is a blend of primarily Grenache with Mataro (or as it is called in France, Mourvèdre) and Shiraz (Syrah).
Aragon in northern Spain is believed to be where Grenache originated and the region grows the varietal in abundance. However, the more famous neighbouring region to the west of La Rioja uses Grenache in some Rioja blends with Tempranillo.
Australian Grenache may have been first planted in The Hunter Valley but South Australia is where it has thrived. Australian Grenache, Barossa Valley varieties in particular, is becoming more popular. Barossa Valley produces fruitier Grenache than that from McLaren Vale where the wine has more spice. With a nod toward the Old World and Rhône-style wines, Australian wineries have had success with Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro blends better known as GSM.
The future of Grenache Wine
Grenache is a hardworking grape, often the offsider to the bigger name varietals. The history of Grenache in Australia is associated with fortified wines. This type of wine was vital to the success of the wine industry in the early days and Grenache is now being recognised. Ancient vines producing complex grapes in the Barossa Valley have added to the reputation of this wine and will continue to in the future. As single-varietal wine or in the popular GSM blend with Shiraz and Mataro Grenache is taking its well-earned reward.