What makes Grenache
This grape has an amazingly diverse flavor profile throughout its life, from raspberry/strawberry with white pepper spice in its early life, to leather and tar flavors later in the ageing process. It’s medium bodied, balanced and a great match for many foods. Pair with Italian or Mediterranean dishes, casseroles, dark meats, salmon, game or sharp cheese.
Flavours: Strawberry / Dark raspberry / White pepper / Cherry Spice / Earth
What conditions does it need?
Soils: Grenache produces the best quality fruit on dry rocky slopes. In California, and as we are seeing in McLaren Vale, it’s best adapted to deep loamy sands, like our Clarendon vineyard, or fine sandy loams such as those in Blewitt Springs.
Pruning: In both Spain and France, both long and short spur training or Gobelet (bush) training is used. In Australia it performs well as head trained and spur trained vines. In California the preference is spur training and cordon training.
Vigour and Yields: Very vigorous upright growth with late ripening. The yield dictates quality and adapts well to dry, windy conditions.
Where did it originate?
Evidence suggests that Grenache most likely originated in Catalonia, Spain. It first began to spread around Europe under the Crown of Aragon in places such as Sardinia and Roussillon in southern France. There was even an early synonym for the vine, Tinto Aragonés which means Red of Aragon. It has varied names across the globe, for example in Sardinia it is called Cannonau, Rool in South Africa, and Garnacha in Spain.
Grenache in Australia
Grenache was one of the original varieties to be planted in Australia in the early 18th Century, and up until 1960 was one of the most widely planted grapes. Our climate and soil provide great growing conditions, similar to that of their Mediterranean origins. The “Great Vine Pull” changed the landscape for Grenache, however Australia still boasts some of the oldest vines in the world.
Grenache in the USA
In the 19th century Grenache impressed growers in the USA with its ability to withstand extreme terrain and climate and became widely planted within the San Joaquin Valley. It became a staple blending variety for pale sweet wines. In the early 20th century the “Rhone Rangers”, an American winemaking movement, focused their attention on premium Rhone style wines. As a result, Grenache was one of the first Vitis Vinifera wines to be successfully vinified in Washington.
Grenache in South Africa
Grenache Noir was discovered in the 1800’s, but this information was only verified in the 1900’s. Winemakers slowly started to realise the potential for making great Grenache by utilising their Mediterranean climate and the diverse typography of South African vineyards. With Grenache becoming a more popular variety, plantings steadily increased between 2011 and 2015 where there was a staggering 55% increase in plantings of Grenache (Rool).