Destination: Grenache

The best places to visit when exploring Grenache grapes


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Destination: Grenache When I think of getting up and going somewhere to experience Grenache, France jumps to mind first. Where else but along that arc of La Belle France that shelters Provence from the harsher elements of the Mediterranean would one want to go? We’re talking about Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel and Gigondas, all admittedly somewhat inland but forming part of the sunny South of France where Grenache thrives.

Of course not all is Grenache in these parts. Many of the best wines happen to be blends often based on Grenache, sometimes with just a particularly large component, yet always benefiting from the bold red fruit and unique aromatics that mark the best of these wines. We should not punish for blending other varieties in with Grenache, it’s not Grenache’s fault that these regions are ideal to a broad range of grapes. In fact, that is one of the great coincidences of the wine world.

It can be tough to make a great wine solely from Grenache. While the grape does produce some wonderfully fruity and aromatic wines, it sometimes lacks a little depth and structure. I often find Grenache to be a little like a giant fruity balloon in the mouth. There’s just not a lot of middle to many of these wines and little holding everything together. That’s nothing a bit of Carignan, Cinsault, or Syrah can’t fix, so this region rejoices in blending grapes, a rarity in Europe where mono-varietal wines tend to rule.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: vinsider
    541543 46

    what a great trip
    If you ever want to experience some great grenache, come to Paso Robles California, Stay at the Creekside B&B and we will compare notes.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:40 PM


  • Snooth User: topherg3
    921880 75

    A perfect trip, I'm excited because this July I'm taking a trip down the Rhone Valley. I'm looking forward to the Northern Rhone but when we get down to Avignon I'm now looking forward some Grenache based wines and down to Languedoc thanks for all the suggestions.

    May 15, 2012 at 9:36 AM


  • It is interesting to see the varying blends the winemakers work with. It points out that they all have different views on what they can produce and what they want to produce. Granted some may be limited to the types of grapes they can afford to work with and other may simply feel that their style is very good.
    I think too many people in the business of writing about wines or doing blogs are caught up with a certain label in a region and say that is the bench mark that all wine makers in the region should immolate. This is a shame but fortunately only 12% if the American people are categorized as wine drinkers ( according to some stat I read recently ). So there is a huge element of the population that can be informed simply what a good wine is and it is not the definition of the Holy Wine Bible written by decades of witless wine snobs.
    Mr. Gregory Dal Piaz, I believe is doing a fine job if not in times a GREAT JOB in informing his readers about wines and grapes in general so the readers get a more balanced view on what to expect from a wine region and the joy of finding out what these individual wine makers produce. I am also impressed with his efforts to find older well aged wines and do compare and contrast with new world and old world styles as well as how the wines themselves are aging.
    Let me say that I find it hard to find anyone who consistently does critics on older wines as GDP does. These are rare reading and should be appreciated because the wines he presents are fading quickly. So do not expect to find other such comments about wines of the 80’s and early 90’s.
    My joy in drinking wine has nothing to do with drinking famous labels but rather simply enjoying every bottle I open and try to realize what that wine is all about. How the blend of grapes has effected the aroma and taste.
    I learned this from my mentor Frank Schoonmaker, the interesting thing about this is the timing. I was a sommelier in the late sixties and early 70’s before finishing college and later worked as a wine salesman. In those days, all the top growth Bordeaux and burgundy wines were available at very reasonable prices and I would often share a class with my guests. So I learned to appreciate blends and aged bottles from Bordeaux and Burgundy Pinot Noirs analyzing what I was tasting and smelling.
    Think of it as walking into a garden, in mid morning, with all the various flowers blooming and you close your eyes and inhale deeply. As you rotate around [ if there is little wind ] you should be able to identify different fragrances from each area of the garden. As these fragrances blend together in certain pockets of the garden you will notice the strengths and weaknesses of each fragrance or even the absence. Now try doing this with the wines you drink. Look for the flavor of the grapes that make up that wine. If you are familiar with the flavor of grapes it becomes easy. If you are not then look the wine up on the Web and see if anyone posted the blend for that wine in that vintage year and then see if you can identify the different grape flavors. You may not know what is what in all the flavors but you might identify different flavors to start with. In time you will run across these flavors and learn to identify them.
    Thank You very much GDP for the wine educational work you do.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:34 AM


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