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Grenache

Full-bodied but light in both color and tannin

Full-bodied but light in both color and tannin, Grenache loves the sun. It thrives in hot climates where it can easily achieve full ripeness. Grenache is best known for the wines it produces in the Southern Rhône region of France. Here, its plush texture and ample alcohol are tamed by savory Syrah and structured Mourvèdre, most notably in Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Despite its fame in France, however, Grenache actually originates in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha and is important throughout the country, particularly in Rioja, where it is blended with the more austere Tempranillo, and in Priorat in tandem with savory Cariñena (Carignan). It is also responsible for dry, fruity rosés in Navarra. In Sardinia, the variety is known as Cannonau and produces bold, rustic reds. In California, Grenache has achieved popularity both flying solo and playing a supporting role in Rhône-style blends.

In the Glass

In sufficiently warm conditions, Grenache produces smooth and generous wines that are loaded with red fruit flavors ranging from strawberry to cherry to dark berry. Richer examples can also show plum, chocolate, and licorice.

Perfect Pairings

Despite its bold, confectionery flavors, Grenache has very mild-mannered tannins, which makes it eminently quaffable on its own, yet easy to match with food. With its uncomplicated, friendly nature, Grenache is the ultimate barbecue red, pairing happily with lamb loin chops or spicy Italian sausages. Unlike most other full-bodied reds, Grenache’s low tannin level ensures that it will not be fazed by a good chili kick.

Sommelier Secret

Sardinia’s Cannonau is often revered for its association with a long, healthy life. Residents of the Italian island often live well into their 90s and beyond, and they credit this antioxidant-rich wine—along with their healthy Mediterranean diet—for their impressive longevity.

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  • Sparkman Wonderland Grenache 2013
    Grenache from Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
    • WE 92
    • RP 90
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  • Cline Big Break Grenache 2013
    Grenache from San Francisco Bay, Central Coast, California
    • WE 90
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  • Jaffurs Grenache 2012
    Grenache from Santa Barbara, Central Coast, California
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    • RP 90
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