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.”
So there you are, go connect.
Sun-loving grenache can be a fiery devil; if it were a dance, it would be a swirling and stomping flamenco. If it were a film star, it would be sexy and brooding like Jane Russell. It is powerful, personality-packed and with a cheeky high alcohol level which can catch you out.
It is masterful in the rugged Priorat wines; it is at the heart of blends in the southern Rhone – think Châteauneuf-du-Pape. You might see GSM on a bottle which is a New World take on the Old World blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre.
Let’s not mess around; grab some grenache.
Sainsbury’s Winemakers’ Selection Old Vine Garnacha (£6) is 13.5% abv and a bronze winner in this year’s International Wine Challenge. I won’t wax lyrical, but for £6 this was a good glug with some Wednesday night bangers and mash. There’s a decent nose of cherries and the bright fleck of spice boxed clever with HP sauce. Yes, I’m classy. I know.
La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo 2014 (£9.99, or £7.49 each when you buy two, until October 26 at Majestic) is a big Spanish wow. Just loved this wine (13.5% abv) which is from grapes harvested from old ‘wild’ bush vines in northern Spain.
The vines are artfully depicted on the label, while in the glass the grenache grape takes over the senses. It is classy, loaded with hedgerow berries; peppery and beautifully juicy. A definite flamenco with added sexy stomp.
I’ll move over to some blends; and first, a hearty one in Wirra Wirra Original Blend Grenache Syrah 2011 (£14.99, The Oxford Wine Company) Grenache takes centre stage wth 60% of the blend from McLaren Vale in south Australia.
It is very peppery, with musky cloves hovering on the nose, and fresh and dried raspberries and black fruits counter balance alongside. It packs a flavour punch that’s for sure, not least with an abv of 14.5%. You betcha.
Les Voiles de Paulilles Collioure 2013, (£10, down from £12, until October 5 at M&S, 13.5% abv) is deep deep broody red, the black side of red. Here’s a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre from the French vineyards of Les Clos de Paulilles in the shadow of the Pyrenees.
It is full bodied yet vibrant; there’s aromas of liquorice, vanilla, redcurrants and home-made jam tarts, which have turned gooey and charred around the edges.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grande Reserve (£14.50, Asda, 13.5% abv) is a compote of cherries and has a scythe of eastern spices on the nose.
Was that cinnamon? Perhaps. Cloves? Maybe. Otherwise it’s brooding berries, with a slight stickiness of tannin.
Neither fruit, spice or tannin overpowers and before you know it, there’s a glass gone.
You can find Grenache Day on Facebook or go to www.grenacheday.com
Published in the saturday extra magazine September 12, 2015