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Grenache / Garnacha of the World


Event Description



1.5 hours


This is the fifth grape variety in our variety discovery tastings and on this evening, we will be tasting eight very different, but equally fantastic expressions of Grenache.

Grenache or Garnacha?

The questions about Grenache/Garnacha seem endless, and the variety's fortunes are full of paradoxes. However, what is not in doubt is that it can produce very attractive wines at a range of price points and in a number of styles.

The reason for the variety's relative anonymity is that, until recently, it was frequently hidden away in blends. Despite being initially widely planted in Spain, France and parts of Italy, its name rarely appeared on a label. Rather it was an important part of the blend or even sole variety in wines as diverse as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorat, Rioja, Provencal rosé and Sardinian Cannonau or indeed in the simplest red and rosé wines, sold without the name of an appellation or variety.

The variety is commonly referred to simply as Grenache but we should really call the grape variety Garnacha, as it originates in Spain. When we use the term Garnacha, we usually have Garnacha Tinta in mind - the black version of the grape. But there are also white, pink or grey mutations of the variety.

Within France, Garnacha is planted principally in the southern Rhône, Provence, Languedoc and Roussillon. In Spain, the plantings are much more widespread, with the most extensive plantings in the Castilla–La Mancha region, the Aragón region of inland north-east Spain (in areas such as Cariñena, Campo de Borja and Calatayud), in Rioja (especially Rioja Oriental) and Navarra. In both countries, there are marked differences between the quality and price of high prestige appellations (e.g. Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France) and appellations that produce high volumes of wine at lower prices (e.g. Côtes du Rhône).

In general, the variety produces relatively pale red or rosé wines that are very fruity and ripe-tasting. Red fruit flavours are most typical. The wines have varying levels of tannin, medium acidity and typically high levels of alcohol naturally (14% abv and above).

It is often blended with other varieties. If blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre, these contribute a range of red and black fruit, tannins and acidity. This is typical in the southern Rhône and in the so-called GSM blends in the USA and Australia. Similarly, it is blended with Tempranillo in Rioja (where it adds fruit and alcohol to the blend) and with Carignan in Priorat for very full-bodied, powerfully flavoured wines that can be aged in bottle.

Garnacha is widely used to make or contribute to rosé wines as well as used in sweet, fortified wines, such as Roussillon's vin doux naturel. Garnacha-based fortified wines are also to be found in Tarragona, Sardinia and Australia. Its natural high sugar levels make it ideal for sweet, fortified wine as it can easily achieve 16% abv or more naturally.

Garnacha is a fascinating variety, which on closer inspection, throws up a surprising number of questions. But, whether you call it Garnacha or Grenache, this variety is becoming something of a star for its versatility, its resistance to drought and to trunk diseases and, most important of all, its ability to be made into delicious wines at a range of prices.

Wines on Tasting:*

  • Cotes Du Rhone

  • Gigondas

  • CNDP

  • Priorat

  • Rioja

  • Cannonau

  • Australia

  • South Africa 

Note - due to stock or vintage changes some wines may be substituted. This list is indicative of what may be on offer*

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