fruit such as raspberries and strawberries. When yields
are kept in check, Grenache based wines can develop complex
and intense notes of black currants, black cherries, black
olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper,
tar, spices and roasted nuts.
and stews: long slow cooked roasts of pork or lamb daubes
and stews with dark, winey sauces
Rhone, Sardinia, Spain
is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhone wines, especially
in Chateauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the
blend. In Australia it is typically blended in "GSM" blends
with Syrah and Mourvedre. Grenache
is also used to make rose wines in France and Spain, notably
those of the Tavel district in the CÃ´tes du Rhone. And the
high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in
fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon
such as Banyuls, and as the basis of most Australian fortified
or Garnacha (as it is known in Spain) most likely originated
in the region of Aragon in northern Spain, according to ampelographical
Plantings probably spread from the original birthplace to
Catalonia and other lands under the Crown of Aragon such as
Sardinia and Rousillon in southern France. An early synonym
for the vine was Tinto Aragones (red of Aragon). The
grape is known as Cannonau in Sardinia, where it is claimed
that it originated there and spread to other Mediterranean
lands under Aragon rule. 
Grenache, under its Spanish synonym Garnacha, was already
well established on both sides of the Pyrenees when the Roussillon
region was annexed by France. From there the vine made its
way through the Languedoc and to the Southern Rhone region
where it was well established by the 19th century. Despite
its prevalence in nearby Navarra and Catalonia, Garnacha was
not widely planted in the Rioja till the early 20th century
as vineyards were replanted following the phylloxera epidemic.
was one of the first varieties to be introduced to Australia
in the 18th century and eventually became the country's most
widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed
by Shiraz in the mid 1960s.
Early Australian Grenache was a main component in the sweet
fortified wines that was the lynchpin of the early Australian
wine industry. In the 19th century, California wine growers
prized the vine's ability to produce high yields and withstand
heat and drought conditions. The grape was extensively planted
throughout the hot San Joaquin Valley where it was mainly
used as a blending component for pale, sweet jug wines. In
the late 20th century, the Rhone Rangers movement brought
attention to the production of premium varietal Grenache and
Rhone style blends modeled after the Grenache dominate wines
In the early 20th century, Grenache was one of the first Vitis
vinifera grapes to be successfully vinified in during
the early development of the Washington wine industry with
a 1966 Yakima Valley rosÃ© earning mention in wine
historian Leon Adams treatise The Wines of America.
vine is characterized by its strong wood canopy and upright
growth. It has good wind tolerance (which is useful in the
Mistral influenced Rhone region) and has shown itself
to be very suited for the dry, warm windy climate around the
The vine buds early and requires a long growing season in
order to fully ripen. Grenache is often one of the last grapes
to be harvested, often ripening weeks after Cabernet Sauvignon.
The long ripening process allows the sugars in the grape to
reach high levels, making Grenache based wines capable of
substantial alcohol levels, often at least 15% ABV.
While the vine is generally vigorous, it is susceptible to
various grape diseases that can affect the yield and quality
of the grape production such as coulure, bunch rot
and downy mildew due to the vine's tight grape clusters. Marginal
and wet climates can increase Grenache's propensity to develop
these viticultural dangers. The vine's drought resistance
is dependent on the type of rootstock it is planted on but
on all types of rootstocks, Grenache seems to respond favorably
to some degree of water stress.
prefers hot, dry soils that are well drained but it relatively
adaptable to all vineyard soil types. In southern France,
Grenache thrives on schist and granite soils and has responded
well to the stony soil of Chateauneuf-du-Pape with the area's
galets roules heat retaining stones. In Priorat, the
crumbly schist soil of the region retain enough water to allow
producers to avoid irrigation in the dry wine region. Vineyards
with an overabundance of irrigation tend to produce pale colored
wines with diluted flavors and excessive alcohol. The skin
of Grenache is thin and lightly pigmented, making wines with
pale color and low tannins.
Older vines with low yields can increase the concentration
of phenolic compounds and produced darker, more tannic wines
such as those found in the Priorat region of Spain where yields
are often around 5-6 hectoliters/hectare (less than half a
ton per acre). Yield control is intimately connected with
the resulting quality of wine with yields below 35 hl/ha (2
tons/acre), such as those practiced by many Chateauneuf-du-Pape
estates, producing very different wines than those with yields
closer to 50 hl/ha (5 tons/acre) which is the base yield for
Appellation d'origine controlle (AOC) wines labeled
under the Co´tes du Rhone designation.
The strong wood canopy of Grenache makes the vine difficult
to harvest with mechanical harvesters and pruning equipment
and more labor intensive to cultivate. In highly mechanized
wine regions, such as Australia and California, this has contributed
to a decline in the vine's popularity.
the Grenache vine has produced mutation vines with berries
of all range of colors. While Grenache noir or "red"
Grenache is the most well known, Grenache blanc or "white"
Grenache is a very important grape variety in France where
it is the fourth most widely planted white variety after Ugni
blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon. Like Grenache noir, it is
a permitted variety in the blends of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
In Southern France and Sardinia, the mutants Grenache rose
and Grenache gris are also found making pale rose
and lightly tinted white wines.
There is currently not consensus among ampelographers about
whether Garnacha Peluda or "hairy Grenache" with its
downy undersides of leaves is mutation
of Grenache or just a relative vine. The vine known as Garnacha
Tintorera is a synonym for the teinturier grape Alicante
which is a crossing of Grenache and Petite Bouschet.
In 1961, a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon produced
the French wine grape Marselan.
is often used as a blending component, adding body and sweet
fruitiness to a wine. The grape can be troublesome for the
winemaker due to tendency to oxidize easily and lose color.
To compensate for the grape's naturally low tannins and phenolic
compounds, some producers will use excessively harsh pressing
and hot fermentation with stems to extract the maximal amount
of color and phenols from the skins. This can backfire to
produce green, herbaceous flavors and coarse, astringent wine
lacking the grape's characteristic vibrant fruitiness. To
maintain those character traits, Grenache responds best to
a long, slow fermentation at cooler temperatures followed
by a maceration period. To curb against oxidation, the wine
should be racked as little as possible. The use of new oak
barrels can help with retaining color and preventing oxidation
but too much oak influence can cover up the fruitiness of
levels of sugars and lack of harsh tannins, makes Grenache
well adapted to the production of fortified wines, such as
the vin doux naturels (VDN) of the Roussillon region
and the "port-style" wines of Australia. In these wines, the
must ferments for 3 days before grape spirit is added to the
must to halt the fermentation and the conversion of sugar
into alcohol. The high alcoholic proof grape spirit brings
the finish wine up to 15-16% alcohol. These wines can be made
in a rancio style by leaving it outside in glass demi-johns
(or car boys) or wooden barrels where the wine bakes in the
sun for several years until it develops a maderized character
and flavors of sour raisins, nuts and cheese. These fortified
VDNs and port-style wines have longevity and can be drinkable
well into their third decade.
is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties
in the world with France and Spain being its largest principle
wine regions. In the late 20th century, total acreage of Grenache
in Spain has been on the decline with the vineyards being
uprooted in lieu of the more fashionable Tempranillo, Cabernet
Sauvignon and Merlot. Between the late 1980s and 2004, Spanish
plantings dropped from 420,000 acres (170,000 hectare) to
203,370 acres (82,300 ha) allowing France with its 236,500
acres (95,700 ha) to assume the mantle as the world's largest
source of Grenache. As of 2000, Grenache was the third most
widely planted red wine grape variety in France, behind Merlot
From French nurseries, Grenache has become the fourth most
widely propagated vine with more than 23 million cuttings
sold since 1998 according to French ampelographer Pierre Galet.
Grenache is most widely associated with the wines of the Rhone
and southern France. Its history in the Rhone can be traced
to the influence of Burgundian wine merchants in the 17-18th
centuries who were seeking a blending variety to add body
and alcohol content to their light body wines. Grenache, with
its propensity for high alcohol and high yields, fit those
desire nicely and was widely planted in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape
and Gigondas and Vacqueyras regions.
Today Grenache is most widely planted in the Languedoc-Roussillon
region where it is widely blended with Carignan, Cinsaut,
Syrah and Mourvedre. The vine's strong, hard wood and affinity
for bush vine training allows it to thrive in the Mistral
influenced southern Rhone regions of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and
In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache noir is the most common variety
of the 13 permitted varieties, although some producers in
recent years have been using a higher proportion of Mourvedre.
Grenache produces a sweet juice that can have almost a jam-like
consistency when very ripe. Syrah is typically blended to
provide color and spice, while MourvÃ¨dre can add elegance
and structure to the wine.
thin skin and pale coloring makes its well suited for the
production of full bodied, fruit rose wines. Grenache
is the principle grape behind the roses of Tavel and Lirac
and its plays an important role in the Provence region as
well. In the Roussillon region, Grenache noir and its gris
and blanc mutations are used in the production of the
fortified vin doux naturels of Banyuls and Maury.
The characteristic of French Grenache based wines depend largely
on what other grape varieties it is blended with and can range
from the spicy, richness associated with Chateauneuf-du-Pape
to the chewy, fruitiness associated with basic Cotes du Rhone
Villages. Other regions with sizable plantings of Grenache
include the Appellation d'origine controlle (AOC) regions
of Minervois, Fitou and Corbieres.
Grenache is known as Garnacha and given the likely
history of the grape this is most likely the grape's original
name. There are several clonal varieties of Garnacha with
the thin-skinned, dark colored Garnacha Tinta (sometimes
spelled Tinto) being the most common. Another variety,
known as Garnacha Peluda or "Hairy Grenache" due to
the soft downy texture on the underside of the vine's leaves
is also found in Spain, mostly in Priorat. Widely planted
in northeastern and central Spain, Garnacha was long considered
a "workhorse" grape of low quality suitable for blending.
In the late 20th century, the success of the Garnacha based
wines from Priorat in Catalonia (as well as the emerging international
attention given to the New World Rhone Rangers) sparked a
re-evaluation of this "workhorse" variety. Today it is the
third most widely planted red grape variety in Spain (behind
Tempranillo and Bobal) with more than 203,300 acres (82,300
hectares) and is seen in both varietal wines and blends.
plays a major role in the Denominacion de Origen Calificada
(DOC/DOQ) wines of Rioja and Priorat and the Denominacion
de Origen (DO) wines of Navarra and all southern Aragonese
and southern Catalonian appellations, plus the mountainous
areas just southwest of Madrid: Mantrida and Cebreros. In
Rioja the grape is planted mostly in the warmer Rioja Baja
region located in the eastern expanse of the wine region.
Usually blended with Tempranillo, Garnacha provides juicy
fruitiness and added body. In recent years, modern Rioja producers
have been increasing the amount of Garnacha used in the blend
in order to produce earlier maturing and more approachable
Riojas in their youth. Garnacha is also used in the pale colored
rosados of Rioja.
The vine has a long history in the Navarra region where it
has been the dominant red grape variety with nearly 54% of
the region's vineyard planted with Garnacha. Compared to neighboring
Rioja, the Garnacha-based blends of Navarra are lighter and
fruitier, meant for earlier consumption.
Spanish wine regions with sizable Garnacha plantings include-Campo
de Borja, Costers del Segre, Emporda , La Mancha, Madrid,
Mantrida, Penedes, Somontano, Tarragona and Terra Alta.
believe Garnacha has had a presence in the Priorat region
of Catalonia for several hundred years (possibly nearly 800
years) but since the 1990s the region's old Garnacha have
garnered much attention. A wave of ambitious young winemakers
rediscovered the low-yield, bush-vine trained Garnacha planted
throughout the llicorella (brown schist) based soils of Priorat.
This unique combination of extremely old vines (the average
age in most vineyards is between 35â€“60 years) planted on
steep terraces and soil produces very low yields (around 5-6
hectoliters per hectare) which makes Priorat a dense, rich
concentrated and dark colored wine with noticeable tannins.
The traditional Priorat wine would be almost black in color
and require years of aging before it would be approachable
to drink. Nearly 40% of all the vineyard land in the Priorat
region is planted to Garnacha, and most of the rest is Carignan
but the acreage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot increased
before 2000 as modernist producers sought to blend those varieties
to add complexity. Some of these new modern style Priorats
tend to show softer, blackberry fruit in their youth and over
time develop notes of figs and tar.
Old World regions
Grenache is most commonly found as Cannonau in Sardinia
where it is one of the principal grapes in the island's deeply
colored, full bodied red wines that routinely maintain alcohol
levels around 15%. Outside of Sardinia, Grenache is also found
in Sicily, Umbria (in Trasimeno lake area) and Calabria. Grenache
has been grown in Israel since the 19th century and was once
an important grape in the Algerian wine industry. Today there
are still some producers in Morocco producing Grenache roses.
Sizable plantings of Grenache are also found in Cyprus and
scattered among the Greek islands.
from Perpignan arrived in Australia with James Busby in his
1832 collection. More significant was the introduction into
South Australia of new cuttings from the South of France,
by Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold in 1844. Plantings in South
Australia boomed, particularly in McLaren Vale, the Barossa
Valley and Clare Valley.
Until the mid 20th century, Grenache was Australia's most
widely planted red wine grape variety with significant plantings
in the vast Riverland region where it was vital component
in the fortified "port-style" wines of the early Australian
industry. As Australian winemakers started to focus more of
premium still wines, Grenache gradually fell out of favor
being supplanted by Shiraz and later Cabernet Sauvignon in
Australian vineyards. The late 20th and early 21st centuries
saw a revival of interest in Grenache with old vine plantings
in South Australia being used to produce varietal Grenache
as well as a "GSM"-Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre-blends becoming
Varietal Grenache from the McLaren Vale is characterized by
luscious richness and spicy notes while Barossa Valley Grenache
is characterized by jammy, intense fruitiness.
early California wine industry, Grenache's high yields and
alcohol level made it an ideal blending component for jug
wine production. Early plantings centered in the hot central
San Joaquin Valley where it was used to produce sweet, pale
colored "white Grenache" wines similar in quality and substance
to White Zinfandel. The late 20th century, saw a revival of
interest in the variety spearheaded by the Rhone Rangers movement.
These producers imported new cuttings from the Rhone valley
for planting in the cooler Central Coast region for use in
the production of premium varietal Grenache and Rhone style
blends. Some historic old vine plantings of Grenache in Mendocino
County has also garnered interest in recent years.
In the early 20th century, Grenache was one of the first Vitis
vinifera grapes to be successfully vinified in during
the early development of the Washington wine industry with
a 1966 Yakima Valley rose earning mention in wine historian
Leon Adams treatise The Wines of America. Despite its
long history, Grenache has been a minor grape variety in Washington
but has seen an increase in plantings in recent years due
to the Rhone Ranger movement in the state. Older plantings
in the Horse Heaven Hills and Columbia Gorge American Viticultural
Areas (AVAs) has also begun attracted interest.
New World wine regions
being one of the world's most widely planted red grape varieties,
Grenache's colonization of the New World has been limited
apart from strongholds in Australia and California. The rising
popularity and success of the Rhone Ranger's movement has
brought greater attention to the variety and more plantings
of Grenache are popping up every year in places like Mexico,
Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa.
Grenache is most often encountered in blended wines (such
as the Rhone wines or GSM blends), varietal examples of Grenache
do exist. As a blending component, Grenache is valued for
the added body and fruitiness that it brings without added
tannins. As a varietal, the grapes naturally low concentration
of phenolics contribute to its pale color and lack of extract
but viticultural practices and low yields can increase the
concentrations of phenolic compounds. Grenache based wines
tend to be made for early consumption with its propensity
for oxidation make it a poor candidate for long term aging.
However, producers (such as some examples from Chateauneuf-du-Pape
and Priorat) who use low yields grown on poor soils can produce
dense, concentrated wines that can benefit from cellaring.
The fortified vin doux naturels of France and Australian
"port-style" wines are protected from Grenache's propensity
for oxidation by the fortification process and can usually
be drinkable for two or three decades.
notes of Grenache are berry fruit such as raspberries and
strawberries. When yields are kept in check, Grenache based
wines can develop complex and intense notes of black currants,
black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey,
leather, black pepper, tar, spices and roasted nuts. When
yields are increased, more overtly earthy and herbal notes
emerge that tend to quickly fade on the palate. The very low
yielding old vines of Priorat can impart dark black fruits
and notes of figs and tar with many traits similar to the
Italian wine Amarone. Rosado or rose Grenaches are
often characterized by their strawberry and cream notes while
fortified vin doux nautrels and Australian "port style"
wines exhibits coffee and nutty tawny-like notes.
Science of Wine Aroma
the Acids in Wine
(Tannins) in Wine
The Basic Wine Pairing Rules
Science of Food and Wine
a Wine Sommelier
Lillelund: Rhone-Vinene JP Berger - JP/Politikens
Forlagshus A/S, 2004. pp. 25
Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine"
Third Edition pg 297-298, 333-334 Oxford University
and Wines of the World". The State Library of South
Australia, GPO Box 419, Adelaide SA 5001.
http://www.winelit.slsa.sa.gov.au/grapeswines.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
Oz Clarke Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 91-100 Harcourt
P. Gregutt "Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential
Guide" pg 67-68 University of California Press 2007
- Gran Clos Priorat: Garnacha, accessed on December 26, 2009
L. Alley "New French Wine Grape Arrives in US Market"
The Wine Spectator pg 17 Sept. 30, 2007
MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 250 Workman Publishing
E.; Eibach, R. (1999-06-00). "Vitis International Variety Catalogue". Information and Coordination
Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV) of the Federal
Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE), Deichmanns Aue
29, 53179 Bonn, Germany. http://www.genres.de/idb/vitis/. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
Also for wine pairing: