Grenache is back.
Not that it every really went anywhere, but there’s a palpable sense of enthusiasm for Grenache (and notably Australian Grenache) that wasn’t there a few years back.
Of course it was only three vintages ago that I was walking a row of 100 year old Barossa Grenache vines heavy with fruit unsold at $800/tonne. In other words, Things aren’t quite there yet. Especially when the equivalent Shiraz grapes go for $3-$4k/tonne. But the situation is improving.
Here, for evidence, is a lineup of a few decent Grenache that have passed the desk recently. You need to look only at the affordable prices (except the CNdP) given the quality here to realise that Grenache is a good move.
Clos Saouma Chateauneuf-du-Pape Arioso 2011
Clos Saouma is part of the Lucien Le Moine operation, with the grapes for this red transported back to Beaune. Sourced from the Pignan plot next to Rayas, this spends a huge 3 years in 500L new puncheons. Flashy and rather creamy, it’s the modern edge of CNdP. But gee is it sexy! The oak offers creamy texture to what is otherwise a rather finessed style, the layers of flavour stunning. 100% Grenache! It’s a beguiling wine – how can a wine that is not sulphured for years look so polished and pure? Exceptional. Maybe a little too oak touched. But glorious, powerful modern wine. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 18.7/20, 95/100. 14.5%, circa $450. Would I buy it? I can’t afford it. But give me some.
Juxtaposed McLaren Vale Grenache 2016
92% Grenache, 7% Mataro, 1% Shiraz. Sourced from 2 vineyards at Clarendon & Sellicks Foothills. 12 months in old oak. Unfined and unfiltered. Bright, and initially a little candied, this looks simple at first, but underneath this has genuine carry and fruit power. A better wine on day two, this has the lovely vibrancy of red, raspberry fruit, licorice and then the fine sandy tannins sneak up on you. Good stuff, if needing more time in bottle. Best drinking: 2018-2026. 18/20, 93/100. 14.2%, $29. Would I buy it? A bottle, yes.
Yelland & Papps Second Take Barossa Grenache 2016
The Second Take range is Yelland & Papps slightly more experimental series. This Grenache includes 61% whole bunches. Lovely bright raspberry fruit. Exuberant, it with an extra drying tang and background grip from the firm tannins. It’s maybe a little firm, but that fruit structure contrast is rather appetising. Over 2 days open it only got better too. Classy Grenache and the sterner personality works well to give this depth. Best drinking: 2018-2028. 18/20, 93/100. 14.3%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Three Dark Horses McLaren Vale Grenache 2014
70yr old dry grown Grenache on sand. Includes 25% whole bunch. Wild fermented in old oak. Lots of lovely red tangy fruit here – it’s a proper Grenache with licorice and chewy stem tannins. Has a real sinewy finish too. I like this. It’s a little divisive and firm, but the conviction of the Grenache fruit is excellent. Nice wine and great price. Best drinking: 2017-2026. 17.8/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? I’d go a bottle.
Schwarz Wine Co. Meta Barossa Grenache 2016
From Bethany and Marananga. Handpicked and wild fermented with 86% whole bunches. Unfined and unfiltered. 2000 bottles produced. Light raspberry and tomato juice. Stems give this a real tang, complete with a buzzy acidity to freshen up, the stems again giving meatiness to what is otherwise a delicate wine that sits around light to mid weight. The question here is whether this is too stemmy. Personally I think it just adds interest, but on another day it might be too much. Lots of interest here. Best drinking: 2017-2026. 17.8/20, 92/100. 13%, $35. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Tim Smith Wines Barossa Valley Grenache 2016
Sourced from 2 Grenache vineyards circa 80yrs old. All old oak. Light and lithe redcurrant fruit. Has a lovely limpid direct red fruit flavour, though I find the alcohol distracts from that lovely fruit. Good quality otherwise. Best drinking: 2017-2024. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $38. Would I buy it? Not quite.
Seppeltsfield Barossa Grenache 2016
Ultra juicy. Lots and lots of ripe, soft, slightly boozy blackberry fruit. No oak in sight, but nor does it need it, the style too ripe and full too fit into a Nouveau style, but plump and generous fruit, complete with authentic sandy tannin. At first I thought this too simple, but this has a soft charm and a resonance of flavour too (if too warm). Easy appeal here. Best drinking: 2017-2025. 17/20, 90/100. 14.8%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Tim Smith Bugalugs Barossa Grenache 2016
Light, just a hint of orange in the colour; this is driven by a sweet, syrupy texture but the palate intensity is a little lacking. Still an easy drink, if a little warm. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $23. Would I buy it? Not quite.