2019 Grenache Tasting

“Grenache is McLaren Vale’s secret weapon – not merely Australia’s best, but every bit as good as that of the Rhone Valley” “The best examples manage to combine density of aroma, colour, flavour and alcohol without threatening to engulf you” JAMES HALLIDAY

In Australia too it took some time for old Grenache vines to earn anything like the respect accorded to old Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvèdre) vines, but each year more and more new bottlings emerge from the Barossa Valley in particular carrying the name Grenache… in splendid isolation. JANCIS ROBINSON MW

I would like to suggest that Australia’s most famous red wine grape, shiraz, might not in fact be the best variety for many of our most famous warmer-climate wine regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. I would like to suggest that if you want a grape variety that most faithfully expresses terroir – that captures the unique combination of country, climate and culture in a glass – then in many cases, in many places, grenache might be a better option.

It’s a big claim, I know. And I’m shamelessly trying to stir the possum when I make it. But the more I taste the best grenaches and grenache blends from top producers in these and other warm regions, the more I think I might actually believe my own hype. MAX ALLEN, The
Financial Review

What is Australia’s great red wine variety? What is that we do here that can compete against the best of the best on the world stage, go toe to toe with the big boys of wine? We all know and love Aussie Shiraz and I think we are comfortable with where it sits in the big picture. We are making real headway with Pinot and we produce some brilliant Cabernet in this big brown land that we could hold up as world class. But a hot topic of conversation here at PWS HQ in recent years has been Grenache.

We have a veritable treasure trove of incredible sites planted to Grenache here, some of the oldest material in this country is our old vines of the variety. Sadly, we think, for years a lot of it has been a variety blended away or made in to rather uninspiring wines (with a few noteworthy exceptions) but in recent years it seems to have found a new lease on life and drawn the attention of some gifted producers who are coaxing out the best from the fruit. As James Halliday said about Grenache in McLaren Vale “Grenache is McLaren Vale’s secret weapon – not merely Australia’s best, but every bit as good as that of the Rhone Valley” which I think sums it up nicely he also noted “The best examples manage to combine density of aroma, colour, flavour and alcohol without threatening to engulf you” which I think hits the nail on the head.

Unlike a lot of more fickle varieties Grenache thrives here in our warmer climates and really sings when given the opportunity to ripen well. It positively drinks up the sunshine in Areas like the Barossa, McLaren Vale and increasingly Heathcote which it needs to reach optimal ripeness. Those aromatics that are so distinctive (someone once told me it is “Pinot for a warm climate”) and alluring really come in to play when Grenache hits a certain ripeness as does the plush core of fruit you can see in the best examples. In all seriousness the best of Australian Grenache can sit alongside examples from their more illustrious European siblings and hold their own. We think the old vine sites here are one of this country’s greatest wine assets and Grenache should be on everyone’s radar and in everyone’s list of what to drink.

There is so many getting around these days that we love and we thought this was the perfect opportunity to share that love and perhaps win a few converts to the Grenache fold at the same time. We have put together a great line up with a few of movers and shakers in the Grenache world, not everyone we love but a good snapshot of what is going on in the scene at the moment, which includes S.C Pannel, Rouleur, Cirillo, Izway, Syrahmi, Turkey Flat and more.

Cheers
The team at PWS HQ