It’s started. We’ve enjoyed the first proper sun of the year which means only one thing, the rosé season is upon us. So Grenache, a grape traditionally associated with the “big red” may seem a curious topic for a spring publication. But there is method in this apparent madness. The longer, warmer evenings herald, not just outdoor rosé enjoyment but also barbecues, and Grenache-based reds make ideal barbecue partners.
Grenache, historically, has generally been found as part of a blend. Think many a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas or Côtes du Rhône. Think of the wonderful reds from the Languedoc-Roussillon or the GSMs (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvèdre) of Australia. It is, however, becoming increasingly popular as a single varietal. It is drought resistant, late ripening and enjoys the sun, so often makes fruity, rich, robust, tannic reds with quite high alcohol. But where old vines grow at altitude, in the right soil and in careful hands, you can find a more subtle style, still powerful and concentrated, but elegant and precise too.
Try our Domaine Treloar One Block Grenache 2012 (£10.95). From the Roussillon comes this rich, deep and complex wine, with flavours of ripe berry fruits, liquorice, fennel and dark chocolate cake. OK so it’s not totally Grenache but what’s a dash of Syrah among friends when it’s such a lovely wine?
Garnacha, as Grenache is known in Spain, used to be the dominant grape of Navarra until much of it was grubbed up to make way for Tempranillo and international varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. But keeping the faith in her mountain vineyards, passionate about Garnacha, is the lovely Elisa, one half of husband and wife team Domaine Lupier. We have their El Terroir, 2010 (£20.80). From old bush vines with an average age of 75 this is a sublime drop with violets, berries, hints of smoke and spice and fine tannins.
Great things are afoot with Garnacha in the Gredos Mountain range to the north of Madrid. Old vines, altitude and granite soils, along with the considerable talents of two young Spanish winemakers, Daniel Landi and Fernando García, are producing some delicious, balanced and supple wines. Watch out for them.
We stock a few of their wines such as one of their collaborations under the Commando G. label El Hombre Bala Old Vine Garnacha 2012 (£21.60): elegant, juicy red berries and peppery cherries with a touch of sun warmed herbs and sweet spice.
Another treasure trove of old, high bush vines is Piekenierskloof in Swartland, South Africa. Try our
Vriesenhof Grenache 2010 (£24.65): powerful, silky, concentrated with rich red berry fruits with hints of newly rained on earth.
And of course, Grenache makes jolly good rosé too.
By Louise van der Straeten