Grenache mini-study: California, Spain and France

Grenache is having its moment!

It’s drought resistance, crops well, doesn’t mind heat and can perform well as either a stand-alone variety or a component in blends. It works well as a bush vine. It’s the seventh most widely planted grape variety, so there’s quite a bit of it. It needs to be handled a little carefully in the winery, because it’s susceptible to oxidation.

As one of the tastings in the Jackson Family Wines annual conference, this was a chance to taste six examples, and they were all really good. The focus here is tilted towards California, where it could be playing more of a role, given the warm, arid climate in many of the wine regions.

Clementine Carter West End Grenache 2021 Santa Barbara County, California
14.8% alcohol. Vines planted in 2016. 100% whole cluster. Neutral oak. No sulfites added until just before bottling. Fresh and expressive with bright red cherry and raspberry fruit with some nice supple green hints. Has lovely texture and a bit of pepper. So expressive with lovely purity. Nice red fruits and a lovely structure. This is very fresh but has a lovely mouthfeel: some dusty hints on the finish. Lovely fruit and really nice structure. 96/100

Copain Brosseau Grenache 2020 Montery, California
13.5% alcohol. Decomposed granite and limestone soils. 17% new oak. This is really good: nice core of sweet cherries and plums, with some texture. There’s a silkiness to the mouthfeel with really nice ripe fruit and hints of pepper and plums. Ripe but also fresh and textural with a liqueur-like quality. 94/100

Tablas Creek Grenache 2020 Paso Robles, California
14% alcohol. Destemmed, and aged in foudres (1200 litres). This is quite pale in colour but has lovely volume in the mouth. There are cherries, plums and some sweet liqueur-like characters, with a hint of pepper. This is restrained and very fine with some fine iron/blood hints and a distinct stony minerality. Very fine, and with structure to age. 94/100

Yangarra Estate High Sands Grenache 2019 McLaren Vale, Australia
14.5% alcohol. From bush vines planted on 1946 on sandy soils. Very low pH of 3.15. Older oak. Nice concentration here. It’s fleshy with sweet cherry and plum fruit, a touch of strawberry, and then some nice structure. The tannins are present, but sit nicely with the fruit. This has the structure to age well – a really lovely expression of McLaren Vale Grenache with elegance but also weight. 94/100

Clos Erasmus Laurel 2020 Priorat, Spain
15% alcohol. 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Syrah. A real mix of elevange with oak, concrete and amphorae. This is quite beautiful. So nicely textured with sweet red cherry and raspberry fruit, with some ripeness but also great definition and freshness. Lovely purity to this fruit, with some liquorice and great concentration. A substantial wine showing density and complexity. Really beautiful. 95/100

Domaine de Vieux Telegraphe 2019 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
65% Grenache, plus others. Cement tanks for 10 months then a year in foudres. An elegant expression of Châteauneuf, with sweet cherries and plums as well as fine spicy notes. Lovely texture here with some minty hints, dried herbs, pepper spice, liquorice and a fine tannin structure. Real finesse here as well as ripeness. 95/100