Grenache is an ancient variety that is one of the most widely planted in the world. It is thought to have originated in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha and is the country’s most widely planted red grape. Sardinia also has claims as its place of origin, where it’s known as Cannonau. France has gained an international reputation as a contributor to the famous wines of the southern Rhône, including the great Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the welltravelled and popular Côtes du Rhône. Grenache is one of the only varieties you will see as an un-trellised bush vine and it is a vigorous variety in the vineyard. Popular in part because of its suitability to a wide range of climates, it is usually harvested late and ripe, producing wines with vibrant aromas and full, layered palates. In France, Grenache is rarely made as a stand-alone varietal wine and is often blended with Shiraz or other varieties. Grenache is a well-suited blending partner with its low tannins and fleshy fruits that tend to meld well with and lift the aromas of its partners.
In Australia, the first Grenache cuttings arrived with James Busby in 1832, having been sourced from the south of France. This signalled Grenache’s part in the production of port-style wines, particularly Tawny Port. Today, old Grenache vineyards provide the fruit for highly popular table wines.
It is suited to the warm, dry regions in Australia, and is unique in the fact that it is almost exclusively cultivated in one state – South Australia.
The older Grenache vines produce soft, warm, intensely flavoured red wines that are approachable on release. When treated with oak the fruit develops a natural spice that sits well with the other Grenache characters of red fruits, bright, mocha tinged cherries and natural forest floor layers. In the past two decades there has been a trend towards blending Grenache with Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvedre) to create the popular southern Rhône styles.
The Barossa Valley is home to some of the best dry-grown, old Grenache vines in the country, producing intense ripeness.
Old vines, low yields and a canny mix of traditional and modern winemaking is proving fruitful for McLaren Vale Grenache producers.
Stunning old vineyards making elegant, more finely shaped wine than the intense warmer regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale.
The heavy, fertile soils of this workhorse region produce healthy, rich Grenache fruit. Langhorne Creek suits this variety well.