The finest Grenache-based wines in the world come from France and Spain. In France those examples would include Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where Grenache typically makes up 80% of the blend, and in Spain, Priorat, where the wine is a 100% varietal made from ancient vines. In both countries when blended, Grenache is typically married with Syrah, Tempranillo, Carignane, Mourvedre, or Cinsault, with Spain's more expansive wine culture tending toward more exotic blends. In any case Grenache is the element in the blend that adds body and fruitiness to the wine.
Grenache is the second or third most widely planted grape in Spain and France. In both countries the 19th century Phylloxera epidemic was the catalyst for Grenache planting since European vines had to be grafted onto American rootstocks to avoid the blight and Grenache happened to work particularly well for that purpose. Throughout the 20th century commercial trends drove Grenache plantings down in Spain and up in France as the Languedoc region became the bulk wine powerhouse of the country. Nonetheless Spain currently still maintains a large plurality in Grenache plantings over France.
Rose wines are a category that usually gets short shrift reviews from both the critics and the public. After all roses are what is made from grapes from a bad vintage, right? Well, yes and no. With Pinot Noir, yes, if the vintage is bad, one tends to see more rose wines. However, the finest rose in the world is made annually in Tavel in the Cotes du Rhone from 100% Grenache grapes and year after year similarly high quality unheralded roses are emerging from Spain to a public that is gradually becoming more and more receptive.
On Friday August 30th from 5 to 7pm we will be pouring tastes of Mureda Unoaked Chardonnay and Espelt Corali Rose, both from Spain; Lavau Red Cotes du Rhone from France; Maggio Petite Sirah and Whiplash Redemption Red Blend from California; and Charles Krug Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Please join us and, for God sakes, become a follower of this blog! There will be a pop quiz Monday morning on the content for everyone but the followers.