WE ALL love a reason to celebrate, so here’s advance warning of International Grenache Day.
Buy the bunting, invite your friends round, bake a cake as it’s next Friday (September 18 2015).
Grenache Day is a global event organised by the Grenache Symposium Association. I bobbed onto their website which waxes lyrical about the grape.
It proclaims: “It’s one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world and responsible for the velvety, voluptuous mouthfeel that people love in wine; but it rarely gets the credit it deserves because it’s often used in blends. It’s time to change all that! Grenache enthusiasts are connecting all over the world and coming together to celebrate this groovy grape.”
If I had a pound for every time people say “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” when I ask them to name their special-buy red, I wouldn’t be sitting here.
Sorry, but that’s how shallow I am. It’s June and you might not be thinking of red wine, but tomorrow is Father’s Day, so you have an excuse.
I asked Dad A and Dad B to taste-test some Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But first, some facts: Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a town in southern Rhone near Avignon, so-named as it sits in the shadow of a medieval papal palace.
Wine-makers are allowed to use up to 18 grape varieties but most blend from just a handful. Grenache is the powerhouse. It is the most widely planted and the backbone of red wines. Mourvèdre, syrah, cinsault and others take supporting roles.
Yes, there are a handful of white wines too. Grapes include clairette, and roussanne.
The wines are not for the faint-hearted. By law, the minimum alcohol level is 12.5% – don’t be surprised if you find wines at 16%.
The price range is huge, so deep breaths.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Barberini, Domaine de la Solitude, 2010 (wineman.co.uk) is a blend of 80% grenache and 20% syrah. Says Dad A: “The nose whacks you like a Tyson right hand. The hints aren’t so much hints as full-on explanations. Espresso, Bonfire Night, chocolate, bicycle saddles, blackberries, compost, like walking into a greenhouse.”
Yes, it’s £44.99, a bit of a Gulp Factor, but Dad A says: “Take my advice. Buy it but make the kids pay. You’re worth it.”
For Dad B, a mix of red and white, both from www.gerrardseel.co.uk. The white was Chateau De La Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Cuvee Des Generations Marie-Leoncie 2011 (£34.75) and the red, Chateau De La Gardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition 2011 (£28.40)
Says Dad B: “These are a real treat: The white is the pick of the pair, a gorgeous, rich mixture of gingerbread and honey on the tongue but balanced with plenty of fresh fruit, all conjuring up summer nights in Provence.
“The red is a beautifully balanced mouthful, packed with dark fruit flavours and a smidgeon of pepper and spice.”
I think you’ve got the message. Dads like Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
I’m not a dad, but I’m allowed my say.
Domaine du Usseglio 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition (£26.54, wine.gauntleys.com) is a blend of grenache (80%) with syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre in attendance. Talk about comfort blankets. Rich ripe punnets of black fruit in a full-bodied velvet cloak speckled with spice.
Also from Gauntleys, Domaine Giraud 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Tradition (£29.37) is produced from vines between 60 and 80 years old. They’ve known life and offer much. Grenache is 60%, followed by syrah and a sprinkle of mourvèdre.
I was asked to write the word “yum” so I will and I have. There’s a lush richness of vanilla and black cherries on the nose (chocolate too) with lots more of the same to taste.
From Tesco’s website, there’s an award-winner in Châteauneuf du Pape Cellier des Princes Haut des Coteaux 2010 (£25). The 2010 vintage won gold at the International Wine Challenge. Spice is the driver here, with plummy, cherry fruits and a savoury edge which all add to a very delightful mouthful indeed.
I suggest you go to your local independent wine merchants to find a really special good CdP for dad.
In the supermarkets, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Châteauneuf-Du-Pape 2013 (£14) won the International Wine Challenge Great Value Red under £15. It’s silky, peppery and nicely balanced. Asda has a decent offering too, with Extra Special Chateauneuf du Pape 2012 (£9.97).
Have fun, dads.
Published in the saturday extra magazine June 20, 2015