A wild gypsy of a grape, Grenache can make everything from light, refreshing rosés to powerful, herby and long-lived reds.
Grenache is the classic grape of the warm south, needing heat to ripen fully and making wines that speak of the dusty, herb-scented character of the rugged Mediterranean landscape. If you want subtlety, look elsewhere. But for sheer flavor, Grenache is hard to beat.
An unsung hero of the wine world, Grenache is finally receiving the recognition it deserves, thanks to a plethora of fine wines from southern France, Spain, Australia and California.
Grenache appears across southern France, but reaches its pinnacle in the southern Rhône valley, home of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas. Here, it forms typically 80 percent of most wines (with Syrah and Mourvèdre adding backbone), and makes wild, strawberry-and-herb-rich reds that warm the innards.
As Garnatxa/Garnacha, it is used for similar wines in Spain. Look to Priorat for greatness, and Montsant, Calatayud and Campo De Borja for value. Or, for a quite different style, try the toothsome rosés of Navarra. The few Californian versions can be very good, but the main New World outpost is South Australia, where Grenache is used both by itself and in GSM blends - Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre.