I recently had a great lesson in winemaking and wine tasting when I had the opportunity to taste seven different wines made with Grenache grapes. All from the same region in Spain (Terra Alta) and by the same winemaker. It is believed Grenache grapes originated in Spain so it makes sense that some of the best Grenache wines come from there. The seven wines I tried all used different techniques in the winemaking process. The wines sampled wreathe following styles:
- White Grenache aged 100% in steel tanks
- White Grenache aged 8 months in oak barrels
- Grenache aged 100% in steel tanks
- Old Vine Grenache
- Grenache Peluda/Grenache blend
- Grenache Peluda
- Grenach-based Red Blend
Each wine had unique characteristics while all exhibited the Grenache profile of a medium bodied, spicy, fruit forward wine. The steel tank aged wines show off the grape in its most natural form. Crisp, medium profile, and easy drinking both the red (“tinto”) and the white (“blanco”) benefit from a bit of a chill before serving. In the “blanco” form Grenache maintains it’s fruit forward, spicy profile while presenting lighter, smooth taste.
I have heard the term “old vine” for a long time. I have gleaned from conversations that “old vines” mean better wine. Some have told me that old vine wines taste more “European.” With my beginner status I am not sure what all that means, though I can tell you the Old Vine Grenache was a completely different taste than the other six. This wine made from grapes produces by vines over 30 years old can only be described as complex. At times smoky and thick, other times hinting at cherries and soil, this wine is one I need to spend more time on than just a brief tasting before I judge it. I have described wines like this as challenging to my young palate, still the Grenache profile is there.
My favorite lesson for the day was the existence of Grenache Peluda, or Hairy Grenache. Don’t worry, the grapes are not hairy, but the leaves are! Besides the crazy image in my head upon hearing this, the wine was the perfect mix of the lighter, crispness on Grenache blanco, and the fuller body, fruit forward spiciness of the Grenache tinto. A great red with unique characteristic sure to please any wine lover.
By my palate there was not a bad wine in the bunch, and it was clear that when it comes to Grenache, unlike a shirtless man at the beach, hairy is better. Watch in the coming weeks for a Wednesday Wine Tasting featuring Grenache wines. You can watch for it on our new website www.grapesandgrainsca.com or follow us on