Friday, 19 September 2014

Gorgeous Grenache Wines for International Grenache Day 2014

The French say Grenache, the Spanish say Garnacha, we say whatever it reads on the label! However you want to introduce it, Grenache is one of the world's most widely planted red grape varieties, and I like it. A lot.

Often overlooked, and in my opinion underrated in the UK market, we're taking the time to celebrate this hero as today is International Grenache Day!

About Grenache

Grenache has a preference for hot, sunny and dry conditions due to its late ripening, and typically produces juicy red wines with a red-berry (strawberry, raspberry) fruit flavour, white peppery spice and soft tannins.

Red Grenache wines are relatively high in alcohol and are often blended with other varietals such as Tempranillo in Spain or Shiraz and Mourvedre (Mataro) to make the 'GSM' blend commonly found in Australia. Many of us wine geeks look to Grenache wines as a partner for classic British dishes like sausage and mash or shepherd's pie.

Simply Garnacha enjoyed last night!

 Though the current weather doesn't quite match the character of the Grenache grape (lounging around in the sunshine), it's the perfect transitional wine from summer to autumn.

Grenache vines thrive in hot, dry, sunny conditions

Though probably better known for producing red wines, the talents of Grenache don't stop there, as its also used to make rose wine, notably in France (Cotes du Rhone) and Spain, plus white wines and even sweet wines.

There are also two mutations of the original Grenache grape which are widely planted in France and Spain - Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris. Responsible for producing white and rose wines, these two often produce wines with high alcohol and low acidity. Grenache Blanc is often blended with other white varietals to give the resulting wines flavour and length and Grenache Gris produces light rose wines, usually in France.

My Grenache Recommendations

Given that Grenache is so commonly found as part of a blend and often hidden from limelight, it rarely gets the credit it deserves. Having featured many blends including Grenache on Vinspire before, I thought it more fitting to pick a few of my favourite single varietal Grenache wines to share with you as we pop a cork (or twist a screw cap) to celebrate International Grenache Day.

Let me begin with Tesco own label Simply Garnacha just £4.79 per bottle. I simply can't go past this for good value for money - it does what it says on the label and the Simply label is the key message.

Outrageously juicy and full of redcurrant fruit flavour, it's a simple, fruity red. At £4.79 we're not expecting complexity and subtle oak ageing - so just enjoy it for what it its.

Also from the Tesco range, but from their Finest* label is the Tesco Finest* Cotes Catalanes Grenache from the Languedoc-Roussillon - currently on offer at £5.99 per bottle. Again, it's great value for money and displays the juicy, concentrated character of the Grenache grape beautifully, with a subtle spicy finish.

It's far too easy to drink, and I've enjoyed this on many occasions from dinner with friends to curled up on the sofa on a cold winter's night - its the ultimate all-rounder and definitely one for the shopping trolley.

Tipping into the 'something for the weekend' price bracket as opposed to the 'everyday drinker', Majestic Wine have come up trumps for me as they're currently stocking d'Arenberg's The Custodian Grenache 2011 and it's included in their 'Mix & Match 2 bottles, save 25%' promotion bringing it to £10.49 per bottle.

With soft cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate and a sweet perfumed aroma, Chester Osborn has shown that Grenache is truly at home in McLaren Vale. If you're a fan of Grenache, this will not disappoint. Save for rich, hearty, herby stews or a rich duck dish.

In keeping with the South Australian theme, one of my all time favourite Grenache wines is the Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache, currently available at Morrison's Cellar for £11.99 per bottle. Full of cherry and spicy plum flavours it packs a punch at 14% but remains silky smooth and fruity like all good Grenache.

From vines between 35 and 70 years old, this beaut is matured in French oak barrels to impart a subtle oaky spice. One to savour on its own or with a slow roasted lamb shoulder or smoked duck.

Whether you're on a budget or feel like splashing out there is a Grenache to suit, so pop a bottle in your basket - virtual or real - and celebrate one of the unsung heroes of the wine world, Grenache.

The Grenache Vines image is taken from Phil_NZ's photostream on Flickr under the Creative Commons license.

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