In this edition of Monthly Crush we explore the varietal Grenache. I have found this to be a very popular grape and have seen its sales growing, not only as a single varietal but as an element of the great Rhône blends. It might actually have the potential to be the next trend in wine drinking.
This red grape varietal is one of the most widely planted in the world, and many countries were represented in our tasting: Australia, France, the United States and Spain (where this varietal is called Garnacha), all produce quite a lot of Grenache.
For the tasting, all participants were provided with only the varietal name; all other information concerning the wines was not unveiled until after all the results were tabulated and discussed.
Only wines labeled as a single varietal or containing at least 85 percent Grenache were considered. All the wines showed well with one clear favorite, an overwhelming second and a tie for third out of the six wines evaluated.
Number one was the Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache from Australia. This wine was beautifully soft in color and "sparkled like rubies" as one member of the tasting panel noted. It had a great balance with flavors of pomegranate, ripe red fruit, and was slightly floral with a soft, easy finish. This wine was definitely a solid and very drinkable example of this varietal.
The second most popular wine tasted was the Almira "Los Dos" Grenache / Syrah from Spain. While this wine is not labeled as a single varietal, it is more than 85 percent Grenache and can be technically considered a single varietal due to the low percentage of Syrah. A dark red to purple in color, this wine was well received by most of the group. It showed a bouquet of brown sugar, with slight floral and jam notes. It was nicely fruit forward and well balanced with very slight tannins on the finish. Friendly and full-bodied, this wine is a decent example of a Spanish Grenache.
Two wines that showed quite well and were also well received were the Spanish Las Rocas Grenache and the Australian Tintara Reserve Grenache. These wines are both great examples of Grenache, although produced literally worlds apart and by different methods. The Las Rocas was described as having a rich dark cherry color with an enigmatic bouquet, a big body and flavors of red berry and slight hints of oak. The Tintara Reserve was described as deep red in color and had most notably a long, smooth finish. Being a reserve wine, it exhibited different characteristics than all the wines represented in the tasting. It would tend to have spent much more time in oak, so it was of no surprise to find nice hints of vanilla and smoke "riding on a wave of very ripe fruit", as one member of the tasting panel noted.
This tasting was quite fun, as many members of the panel had little or no experience with this varietal and everyone found it to be interesting and enjoyable. Current vintages of these wines can be found or ordered throughout Alaska at a retailer near you. The next time you are out shopping for a new and interesting wine, try a Grenache.
Happy holidays to all and many thanks to those who have participated on the tasting panel thus far.