Saturday, August 24, 2013

Grenache Part 1

Grenache (gren-aash) is the preferred name for this workhorse blending grape everywhere it is planted except in Spain where it is called Garnacha (gar-nah-cha).  Because Spain had it first, Garnacha, would seem to consitute a legitimate name claim.  Some modern day ampelographers, however, believe the island of  Sardinia may have actually had the grape before Spain so Cannonau, Sardinia's name for it, may be most appropriate.  Since no one outside of Sardinia calls it that and no one outside of Spain calls it Garnacha, Grenache it has become.

Grenache is perhaps the most widely planted red wine grape in the world.  Its popularity in part is due to its hardiness in hot, dry, and windy conditions.  Those conditions exist in southern Europe, Australia, the central valley of California, and elsewhere.  It is drought resistant and actually prefers gravely, stony soils that most vines find too difficult.  With the ecological changes anticipated with global warming, Grenache's future appears secure.

Grenache also ripens later than most grapes making it a softer, fruitier wine that is coorespondingly low in tannins, phenolics, acidity, and color.  Consequently this typically high alcohol wine is prone to oxidation and usually not cellar worthy.  It's essential character includes a floral orange blossom nose, a fleshy and full mouthfeel, and blackberry and black current on the palate with allspice and cinnamon.  Grenache is adaptable to alternative growing conditions which of course would accentuate some of the above characteristics over others.  Time in oak would also affect tendencies toward smoke and toastiness.

Food affinities for Grenache include grilled meats and fish, stews, and game.  Grenache also seems to like the spices, paprika and curry, and works well with dishes where olive oil is prominant.  Grenache roses are well paired with tuna, other seafood, and summertime picnic fare.

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