Consider Grenache-based wines this week
We should start our journey in the north of Spain as this is where garnacha was born. Its lovely strawberry and raspberry flavours, along with a touch of pepper, has resulted in it being the seventh most planted wine grape worldwide. It is even ahead of sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, but internationally it is better known as Grenache. Since we mentioned serving temperatures last week, I would suggest Grenache/garnacha between 60 and 65 Fahrenheit as we really must be careful in the hot months.
Torres 2013 Sangre de Toro is mostly garnacha, but it does have some carinena in the blend. It is deep cherry red with rich aromas of dark berries, wild blackberries, ripe dried plums and roasted coffee notes. An intense, warm, succulent palate follows with an echo of liquorice on the finish. This wine is from the Spanish Denominacion de Origen of Catalonia. $18.55.
Although 18 grape varieties are allowed in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the principal one is Grenache. It all started in 1309 when Pope Clement refused to move to Rome and instead built his “Pope’s New Castle” in Avignon in the south of France.
Being a wise Pope, he thought a vineyard at his château would be a good idea and the garnacha vines were brought from Spain and they took on their French name. In 1923, the very first laws of Appellation Controlee were drawn up in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and they allowed for ten grape varieties, before rising to 13 in 1936 and 18 in 2009 eighteen.
Chapoutier La Bernadine Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2015 draws the following comments from Robert Parker: “A blend of 60 per cent Grenache, 25 per cent syrah and 15 per cent other varieties, the 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape la Bernardine is made in an approachable, charming style. Sandalwood and dried spices mark the nose, while the medium to full-bodied palate features supple tannins and plenty of ripe black cherry fruit. Drink it over the next five to eight years.” $45.85.
One of the most famous vineyards from this area is on a hill where one of the original signal towers was built in 1792, so it is appropriately Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau 2012 Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The Wine Spectator rates it 94/100 and says: “Rock-solid, with a hefty core of fig, blackberry and black cherry fruit, wrapped in chestnut and tobacco leaf notes and carrying through a lavender and tar-framed finish. Dense and grippy, showing a slightly old-school shading. Should cellar well. Best from 2016 through 2030.” $96.45.
If you would like to try a wine made from Grenache and syrah and priced at $22.80, I suggest Chapoutier Côte du Rhône Rasteau 2014.
“Chocolate, dusty earth, wild herbs and dark berry fruits give way to a medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and textured red that will drink well for five to six years. It’s one of the better wines from Rasteau,” writes Robert Parker. Rasteau is a parish about 15 miles northeast of Châteauneuf-du- Pape.
Grenache lends itself very well to be the principal grape in many blends and these wines should list the grapes in order of importance in the wine. For instance, Barossa Valley Estate GSM 2013 from Australia consists of 45 per cent Grenache, 42 per cent shiraz and 14 per cent mourvedere. These grapes are known as “Rhône varietals”. Remember that Aussie folks like to call their syrah shiraz and GSM is a big category in that big country.
Small in size, the Barossa Valley is regarded as one of the most significant red wine regions on earth. Its unique ancient, friable red clay loam soils and warm climate combine to create wines of extraordinary varietal character. This particular GSM is fragrant violet with a burst of red berry fruits lingering softly on a velvety texture. $26.90.
Paso Robles is a rapidly expanding wine area near the California coast and about 200 miles north of Los Angeles. Much of this development is with Rhône grape varieties and we have a wonderful Austin Hope 2013 Grenache that the Wine Enthusiast describes in this way: “Full of the lushness that comes with this brand in all forms, this bottling shows vanilla cake, toasty oak, red fruit, abundant baking spice, molasses and a touch of freshly shaved pork roast. The palate is heavy duty with similar flavours and even some fudge, which albeit delicious, hides much of the grape’s varietal beauty.”
This is a rather rare example of 100 per cent Grenache with no help from any other grapes. $44.45.
Grenache-based wines are among the most food-friendly out there — chicken, lamb, beef, game, duck, venison, Asian, Spanish and on it goes.
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm
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