What’s a Great Grenache?

Our Friendly Wine Experts Share Their Favorites!


Tomorrow we will be reporting on a line up of value priced Grenache, but before we dig deeply among the less expensive examples of the grape we wanted to entice you with some the top Grenache picks from our favorite wine writers. Grenache is grown around the globe, in some surprising places and in many styles. We here at Snooth think it’s bound to be the next big thing. It’s generally fruity and soft, and fun to drink. Just listen to our experts!

My favorite Grenache comes with an asterisk because of confusion over its heritage.  I'm fascinated by the wines of the Mediterranean islands and for a while I had a steady supply of Sardinian bottles arriving here in Memphis.  Cannonau and the various blends were quite interesting and tended to stand up well to grilled meats on a hot summer day.  Most of the Cannonau I've had came from Argiolas, with the labels depicting thenuraghi (4,000 year old stone towers erected by early settlers of the island).  I've had more refined Rhône Grenache, and well-aged Spanish Garnacha, but few wines have tickled my love of geography and history like a humble bottle from Sardinia.

Ben Carter
Benito’s Wine Reviews

Photo courtesy amandabhslater via Flickr/CC

Eric Guido

I love Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but the fact is that their cost is starting to become prohibitive.  They are great wines for a special occasion, but hard to justify on a Monday night.  However, after years of exploring the region, I have found myself happily seeking out Gigondas.  Gigondas is Chateauneuf-du-Pape without all the name recognition.  Year in and year out, I look forward to the release of Domaine du Grapillon's 1806 Gigondas.  It's a serious Grenache, without the pretense.
2011 Domaine du Grapillon d'Or Gigondas - The nose was rich and ripe with blackberry jam, herbs, bacon fat and sweet violet floral tones. On the palate, it was silky smooth, enveloping the senses in ripe blackberry fruit, yet remained balanced throughout. The finish was clean, leaving the mouth watering, yet a little short. It's a great wine to drink now for pure enjoyment. (89 points)
Eric Guido


Julia Crowley

Winemaker Jonathan Scott Oberlander of J. Scott Cellars here in the South Willamette Valley produces outstanding handmade Rhône varietals from the Pacific Northwest. Year in and year out, Jonathan produces a beautiful Grenache that's always an excellent representation of the varietal. Brambly fruit like blackberries and raspberries are highlighted by spice and sometimes tobacco, and the mouthfeel is lush and velvety. With each vintage, Jonathan's Grenache's are medium in body and have super soft tannins, nice acidity and balance precision.   
Julia Crowley


Jon Thorsen

The Evodia is yet another old vine Garnacha (up to 100 years old) from the Calatayud that proves once again this is THE go to region for Reverse Wine Snobs right now. This wine ages for only 5 months in stainless steel but don't think for a second that makes it one dimensional or less complex than other wines from the area that spend time in oak -- one taste will destroy that notion pretty quick. Numerous vintages of this wine have appeared on our Top 10 lists. Guaranteed to drink like a whole lot more than $8.  
Jon Thorsen

Susannah Gold

My favorite grenache is more complicated because I like the wine in many different styles. I'm going to go with a Rose from Tavel called Chateau D'Aqueria. The grapes are handpicked from Château d'Aquéria's own vineyards, which span 163 acres across the sandy slopes of Tavel. The wines see no malolactic fermentation and no oak contact. I like a fresh rose in this style. I also favor Cannonau from Sardinia, the Italian name for Grenache but I will go with this more traditional wine. 
Susannah Gold


Jameson Fink

My favorite Grenache
Any good-quality, Grenache-based Cotes-du-Rhone floats my boat. For a price-to-pleasure ratio, still hard to beat. 
Jameson Fink


Clifford Brown

Even though I am a big fan of the Grenache wines coming out of the Southern Rhone region, for Spring dining, I turn more towards California Grenache wines.  One of my perennial favorites is the Villa Creek Denner Vineyard Garnacha (they use the Spanish spelling for the grape).  The California versions are a bit more fruit driven that seem to be a better pairing with lighter warmer weather fare.
Here is my note from a recent bottle of their 2007 vintage of the wine:
The wine is a deep ruby red color.  The very alluring nose has cherries, black raspberries, cola, warm baking spices, white pepper, violets, stony minerals, touch of pine needles, and some earthiness.  This has medium to full body, moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the spicy, peppery cherries grab hold first, slowly allowing some minerals and earthiness to slip into focus.  The finish has very nice length with a nice blend of fruit and savory elements.  This has exceptional balance and should drink well for at least another 3 or 4 years.  (93 pts)
Cliff Brown


Richard Jennings

Which one?
My fave Grenache-based Châteauneuf-du-Pape—the home of the best Grenaches on the planet—is the 1990 M. Chapoutier Barbe Rac: Cloudy, bricking, dark red violet color with cherry red meniscus; very sexy, bacon fat, pepper nose; gorgeous, bacon fat, tart red fruit, mineral palate; long finish 97 points
The best domestic Grenache I’ve tasted is 2006 Sine Qua Non Grenache Raven Series: Dark red violet color; roasted black fruit, hickory smoke nose; intense, roasted black fruit, tar, smoke, incipient bacon fat, light pepper palate; medium-plus finish (92% Grenache, 8% Syrah; 16.3% alcohol) 93+ points
Richard Jennings


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