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The start of my wine journey - Grenache

25 Feb 2020 by Des

The first wine I ever bought more than one of was a Navarra Garnacha called Baso.

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If I remember rightly it cost £3.99 in the mid 90s and the back label mentioned 40 year old vines. From there I tried other Garnacha wines and always felt I was getting a lot of wine for my money.

It’s the same today.

A couple of years ago the team tried over 100 wines we’d been sent, everyone’s top red of the day was a Garnacha which would be priced at £9.99. This wine was the Garnacha de Fuego which quickly out sold every other wine we stocked and is sadly missed.

Garnacha/Grenache (Cannonau in Sardinia) is planted all over the shop, tolerating very high temperatures, and therefore thriving where little else will grow. Whilst not seen as a “Noble variety”, Garnacha produces some of the great wines of the world. Most notably Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

We’ve had a bit of a tumultuous relationship with Chateauneauf-du-Pape, with many of their wines essentially just beefed up Cotes du Rhone. Brawny, but with little appeal to the more civilised wine drinker, and therefore rarely justifying the often £30+ price tag. Saying this however, there are estates producing elegant Burgundian style Chateauneuf. None more so than Chateau Rayas. Reportedly 100% Grenache, Rayas is in the top 3 of most folks who’ve had chance to try it, and a must try for those in the know.

Grenache has a Pinot Noir like ability to take on the flavours of the site it’s grown, meaning the flavour profile from Priorat or Monsant will differ from that of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Rasteau.

The Grenache wines I’d first tried were soft and silky, with notes of raspberry and a mild pepperiness, so, as a novice I felt safe with Grenace. Until, that is, I tried a Priorat.

Woah.

That was something else. The first mineral wine I tried was a Priorat, Scala dei Garnacha, wild, raw, liquorice and old leather. This was my first wine which didn’t taste of fruit at all, but rather It tasted of where it was grown. It was Garnacha but rooted in broken slate. Shadowy, uncivilised and surly, but with a heather lift. Initially foreboding, as I made my way through the bottle I warmed to it. Still light bodied but drenched in flavour, not fruity, but stony and complex.

If you’re wanting to begin a journey into the complexities and variance of wine, Grenache is a great place to start. The Garnacha from Bodegas Monfil will set you back a paltry £9.49 and give you an insight into the Spanish style of this grape, while not quite as sophisticated as the great wines of Priorat this will give you a sense of minerality from nearby Carinena. Sample this alongside the Clavel Regulus Cotes Du Rhone £9.99 to see how responsive this grape is to the soils and climate where it is grown. Lighter and more fruit driven this is a blend with Syrah and Marselan supporting.

Where you go next is up to you and as ever we'll be there to point you in the right direction.

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