Let's talk Grenache on International Grenache Day!
Did you know that Grenache has been planted in Australia since the very beginning of the country’s winegrowing history?
Grenache was first planted in Australia in 1832 where it was mainly used in the production of fortified wines, like Tawny Port. Up until the mid-1900s it was the most planted variety in the country, however as the popularity of fortified wines decreased many vineyards were ripped up and replanted with other varietals, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Over the last two decades Grenache has seen a surge in popularity, with winemakers shifting towards high quality production of single varietal Grenache wines and Rhône style blends such as GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre).
In fact, the Côte du Rhône in France is the region that put Grenache on the map and it is now one of the most widely planted varieties in the world. There are actually over 1,500 hectares planted in Australia, home to some of the world’s oldest Grenache vines!
Grenache is the French translation of the Spanish word Garnacha. Initially linked to Aragon in northern Spain (where the grape was known as Tinto de Aragón), new research has shown that the grape may have actually originated on Sardinia, the stunning island between Spain and Italy, where it is known as Cannonau.
Grenache in the vineyard
The most high-quality fruit is produced when vines are pruned harshly, dry-grown (no water) and experience hot weather. This means that Grenache is perfectly suited to a number of Australian wine regions, including the Barossa and McLaren Vale in South Australia and the Ferguson Valley and Perth Hills in Western Australia.
Vines are also extremely vigorous, which means that crop levels must be carefully managed in the vineyard for high quality production. If yields are too high, the fruit produces more fruit-forward and less complex wines. Lower yields ensure more concentrated, varied flavour and character, producing much more complex wines.
A lot of the older Grenache vines are not trellised and instead are known as ‘goblet’ or bush vines. These are vines that are trained in round, squat, tree-like shapes.
This type of training is ideal for warm, dry regions and many winemakers favour goblet vines because vines can survive without expensive irrigation set ups during drought conditions.
Did you know?
Since Grenache was first produced hundreds of years ago, it has mutated to create varieties which are genetically identical, yet different in appearance.
Grenache Blanc is a white grape! It is mainly found in Priorat in northeast Spain. It is also an integral blending component in the production of rich white wines from Rhône, France.
Grenache Gris is a grayish-pink colour (similar to Pinot Gris!), found in southern France and used in the production of dessert wines.
What does Grenache taste like
Interestingly, Grenache is often described as a warm climate Pinot Noir.
Grenache wines are all about spice and tend to have medium body, acidity and tannin.
Like all grape varieties, Grenache is very much influenced by the climate in which it is grown. Hotter regions will produce wines that are higher in alcohol with cherry and liquorice flavours, whereas wines from colder regions will exhibit less alcohol, with notes of raspberry, white pepper and savoury herbs like oregano.
Common fruit notes are:
- Candied fruit
Typical savoury notes are:
- White pepper
Grenache and blending
Although there are many incredible single varietal Grenache wines, Grenache is also commonly used to make Rosé, blends and fortified wines.
In fact, one of Australia’s most well-known blends is GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre). In this popular blend, Grenache commonly adds aromatic spice and red fruit character, as well as lowering tannin and acidity in the final wine.
The GSM blend was made famous in Rhône, France and with a similar climate in Western and South Australia, these varietals are flourishing.
Did you know?
For a wine to be labelled as a single varietal wine, it only needs to contain 85% or more of that grape variety.
We go together: Grenache and food
Grenache is the ultimate wine to enjoy with food because it goes with such a wide range of dishes. Try charcuterie, soft cheeses, grilled meats and lightly spiced dishes or curries. Grenache can even pair well with more meaty fish such as tuna. Don’t forget about your favourite pasta dishes too –bellissimo.
The Millbrook Regional GSM is one of our most popular red wines and consistently sells out every year.
Fruit was harvested from the Ferguson Valley in Geographe, a wine region perfectly adept at growing these varietals. The Millbrook Regional range celebrates a number of wine regions across Western Australia, with Millbrook Winemaker Emma Gillespie saying, "WA is certainly not mentioned in a lot of write ups when talking about Grenache and Grenache blends, and definitely not Geographe, more specifically. But it definitely should be! Geographe offers such a great diversity of microclimates and varieties, and is worthy of being a destination wine region, not just to pass through on the way down south."
Winner of the Sydney Royal Wine Show 2023 Best Value Trophy, the 2022 Regional GSM has supple, fine tannins and notes of raspberry, violets, aniseed, plum jam and blackberry that mingle on the palate to produce a juicy, mouth-filling wine bursting with flavour and spice. "The 2022 Millbrook GSM is all I could hope for with this wine – approachability, affordability and a joyous drinking experience," says Emma.