This is part of a series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word posts once a week, covering everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term.
Grenache (n.) Grape
I've always thought of grenache as a French red wine grape, one that shows up time and again in Côtes du Rhône and Languedoc blends alongside syrah, as if the two were fraternal twins. This probably has more do with the fact that I drink far more French wine than any other, than it does a clear perspective on the grape's origin and popularity in other countries. I always back up my memory of wine facts with quick research before I put the information out into the world. Usually, what I find confirms what I thought I knew. But this time was different. Turns out, grenache, called garnacha in Spain, is actually Spanish in origin, according to Jancis Robinson's Wine Grapes. The 2012 text states that some recent research suggests the grape may be native to Italy's Sardinia, where it goes by the name cannonau, though Robinson offers a stronger argument for Spain being the grape's mother country.
Grenache/garnacha/cannonau is the Wine Word today because of its proliferation in Southern France and the Rhône Valley, specifically in Côtes du Rhône wines, two of which made the Pig&Vine approved-for-drinking list this week. Grenache grows best in warmer climates, including California, parts of Washington, and Australia. It has the potential to produce higher alcohol and sweet ripe fruit flavors of red berries, subtle spice and herbal notes, as well-represented in the Aphillanthes CdR Plan de Dieu I wrote about earlier this week. . By law, grenache must make up at least 40% of the blend in CdRs from Southern Rhône vineyards (the rules favor syrah in the Northern Rhône), and is a major player in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It's also a popular grape in Provence, where it's used to make many of the bright, delicious rosés we love.
Check out this search page for grenache on P&V for recent posts about wines made with this grape. No surprise the majority are rosés from Southern France.
Also this beauty from Rioja, Spain; a true gem every. single. vintage.