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Why you should be drinking Grenache RIGHT NOW!

By Lisa Mesa on Oct 03, 2020 in The Good Life
Why you should be drinking Grenache RIGHT NOW!

I am often surprised at how few of our visitors know about Grenache. This wine is such a perfect pairing for fall that I thought I would try to change all that today in one short blog. 

 It may surprise you to know then that Grenache is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world.  From prominent regions like Chateauneuf-du-Pape to cult California wines.  It is believed to have originated from Spain and then spread to other Mediterranean lands and it was one of the first varieties introduced to Astralia in the 18th Century.

Grenache does well in dry, warm and windy climate, but the vines bud early and it requires a long growning season.  The strong growing canopy makes it difficult to harvest mechanically so it is much more labor intensive which may have lead to the vines decline in popularity among growers.  It wants to set heavy which can dilute flavors and it’s susceptible to sunburn, which bleaches out the red color.    Like Pinot Noir, Grenache is highly sensitive to soil and winemaking techniques, as well as climate and altitude.  Both grapes planted on sandy soils give fresher, lighter wines with more aromas, while red clay plantings have longer flavores and more structure.  In the case of older vines, reds get more intense in flavor.  In the winery, Grenache requires a LOT of attention.  Fermentation and maceration are often long, slow and cool; so during the wait, some Grenache winemakers have borrowed Pinot Noir’s technique of thowing whole clusters of grapes, even stems into the fermentation tank to add complexity and spiciness to the wine.  Finally, once in the bottle it’s prone to oxidation.  I know, your already thinking, “Wow, this wine better be worth it!”  I’m here to tell you, it is, in the right hands.

What does Grenache taste like?

Grenache is know for it’s berry flavors of bright strawberries and reaspberries with notes of white pepper and what gives it away to blind tasters is the unmistakable flavor of fruit roll up!  Yep!  You heard me right, fruit roll up.  Depending on where its grown, Grenache can have subtle aromas of orange rind and ruby red grapefruit or more of an old world style with herbal notes of dried oregano and tobacco.  It’s spice makes it a perfect pairing with spiced and herb heavy dishes and since alcohol is a solvent to capsaicin, a lighter alcohol Grenache served slightly chilled can help reduce the burn of spicy food. 

Grenache and California

California didn’t always produce world class Grenache but all that began to change in the mid-1990s, when Tablas Creek Vineyard was founded in Paso Robles by wine importer Robert Haas and the Perrin family, which owns Château de Beaucastel in France’s Rhône Valley. They isolated and imported better clonal material for numerous Rhône varieties, which eventually led to a nursery operation that spread the vines throughout the state.

So they imported five new clones of Grenache from Beaucastel, which ignited the grape’s renaissance.

Today, those clones make up many of the grape’s plantings across the Central Coast, where the variety’s acreage has grown steadily over the past decade. Even with the new clones, growing and making quality Grenache remains an uphill battle compared to other grapes. Most growers say it even requires more attention than the notoriously finicky Pinot Noir.

Grenache and the SYV

Why you should be drinking Grenache RIGHT NOW! Kimsey Vineyard, Ballard Canyon AVA

Ballard Canyon, encompassing just 7,700 acres, provides a much tighter focus on growing as it accounts for only 10% of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. The north-south oriented canyon provides a unique weather pattern of wind, fog, and maritime influence, giving each wine a fingerprint of the specific place.

Stylistically, the wines produced from here can be defined as cool-climate (Sta. Rita Hills), warm climate (Happy Canyon), and the marginal areas that are influenced by both. The Ballard Canyon AVA represents this critical mixed climate: the greatest wines in the world are grown in areas that are on the edge of where the varietals can get fully ripe.  This is where we are growing world class Grenache. 

We have several Grenache wines in house for you to choose from.  Stop in and enjoy a glass or two to experience the different styles and select your favorites to take home with you or visit our online shop if you cant get here in person.  What ever you do, start drinking more Grenache!

Cheers to Good sips!

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