For the love of Grenache: Noir, Blanc & Gris

For the love of Grenache:

Noir, Blanc & Gris

From the Rhône to Rioja, Swartland and Stellenbosch, we just can't get enough of Grenache. A super versatile grape, we have more than 70 iterations of it online! It's normally the star variety in blends from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and the Languedoc, but also sees a more delicate varietal expression here in the Cape.

Last week's Grenache / Garnacha tastings in Cape Town and Johannesburg showed that South Africans are big fans of all the styles. Spicy, pure-fruited and vibrant, Pesquié's 2019 Le Paradou Grenache from the Rhône is always a crowd-pleaser at only R160. The wines from local Grenache specialists Momento, Anysbos and David & Nadia were fine boned, perfumed and complex. AA Badenhorst's Raaigras Grenache hails from the oldest Grenache vineyard in South Africa, est. 1952. It too has understated concentration and shows red fruit, thyme and sage notes, with quietly grippy tannins.

South African/Riojan Young Gun Bryan Macrobert's 2020 Laventura Garnacha was one of the stars of the tasting. From an old-vine site at altitude, it has round, rocky boulders not dissimilar to the galets roulés seen in the Southern Rhône. Grenache reigns supreme here and one of the region's top producers, Santa Duc, blew the lights out with their Grenache-based blend, 2018 Gigondas Aux Lieu Dits.

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Grenache offers endless possibilities and has become 'ultra-fashionable in the past decade', says Tim Atkin. It is very drought resistant and thus thrives in warmer climates. It used to be the most widely planted variety in the world and, with global warming, might well be in that position again.

Whilst Grenache Noir is the most well-known, its cousins, mutations from Noir, are gaining deserved attention. Citrussy, pithy and mineral, try a bottle of the 2020 Glen Heatlie or 2020 Rall Grenache Blanc. Grenache Gris is rare and has pinker skin than Grenache Blanc. It offers more colour and tannin, illustrated well by Fram and Momento's 2020 Grenache Gris. As ever, don't forget the rosé (all day). With notes of grapefruit, blood orange and fynbos, rosés from Provence to Paarl are perfect for the coming spring.

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