Killer Australian Grenache! A Serious Challenge to the Domination of Shiraz
Grenache is most well known for its Southern Rhône Valley roots as well as its important role in Spanish wines, but Australia has been producing killer Grenache for a very long time, and has some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world. The ample amount of Grenache bush vines in both McLaren Vale as well as Barossa Valley have pushed Grenache almost front and center in the Australian wine scene in recent years. Some of these vines planted as early as the 1840-50s are still producing crops today, making them some of the oldest producing vines in the world.
For the most part, the Australian wine scene has been all about Shiraz; it is the most widely planted grape and grows in most of the regions where wine is produced. Grenache is something else. It primarily grows in the McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley areas known as Southern Australia. This is one of the amazing examples of how terroir and microclimates can affect grape growth and wine production, and how it can produce grapes that vary so widely in character.
Barossa Valley is kind of known for having these big juicy wines with lot of big fruity character, while McLaren Vale is known for having almost a dusty, earthier quality to the wines. This especially holds true for Grenache. Grenache can have a lot of similar characters of Pinot Noir when it comes to bright red cherry, or raspberry on the palate. Grenache stands out with its spice and floral characters that accompany the fruit-forward flavors. McLaren Vale Grenache has more of an earthy character that some Cabernet Francs can have. Barossa tends to have a bit more depth, darkness, and ripeness to the fruit character with waves of spice running down the palate.
Newer winemakers want to stand out for more than just Shiraz, so they are seeking out these bush vines and creating some impressive wines like our friends, Richard and Carla Betts from “Approach to Relaxation,” who make an elegant Grenache called “Succette”. Some of the more established and top dogs in Australia like Yalumba are producing exciting wines from Grenache vines they have been tending for decades.
Don’t just take my word for it on these wines, I urge you to check out the complexity and excitement that is Australian Grenache. If you are a fan of blends a lot of Australia is also producing GSM Blends with these killer Grenache vines along with their famous Shiraz and killer Mataro (Mourvèdre)!
This 98% Grenache is accompanied by a 2% splash of Shiraz, creating a wine that has amazing aromas of rose petals and cherries. This wine has perfectly soft tannins that just graze the palate with a refreshing acidity that makes this wine perfect for a hot summer day. Bold and authoritative with finesse. Fresh fruits of wild black and Morello cherries, bay leaves, clove and hints of juniper with very fine tannins. Pair with lamb, osso bucco, beef. One of the great things about this wine is that everything the winery does is by hand, from picking to sorting and pressing the grapes in their wooden basket that dates back to 1928.
$27.99 per bottle
This Grenache, from the famous Barossa region of Australia, is produced from 30-80-year-old bush vines and is full of big, bright spicy berry and cherry flavors. It has that elusive combination of a strong, bright fruit flavor without the clumsiness of heavier extracted wines, yet it still has plenty of complexity and depth. This vintage has a bit more punch than the previous, with richer aromas and flavors. Exquisitely balanced, this wine is very, very easy to drink. Always a big seller, it always delivers delicious fruit for the money. With a nice amount of balancing natural acidity providing a clean juicy finish, this wine is also food friendly and quite versatile. Great bang for the buck.
Expressive and vibrant, this wine is earthy and herbal with aromas and flavors of fresh, ripe cherries. The fruit is pure with earthy and herbal notes and fine-grained tannins. Pair with Vietnamese larb, roast chicken, schwarma.
$17.99 per bottle
Grenache is one of my favorite wines from Australia. John Duval’s Annexus is only made in the best vintages from very low yielding vineyards. This wine is 100% barrel fermented for 12 months in older French Oak Hogsheads. Aromas of red fruits with a hint of rose and savory spice. The palate is medium-bodied with an array of cranberry and raspberry fruit with impressive purity and flavor intensity. The acidity and fine tannins are the backbone of this wine.
$42.99 per bottle
This 98% Grenache is accompanied by a 2% splash of Shiraz, creating a wine that has amazing aromas of rose petals and cherries. This wine has perfectly soft tannins that just graze the palate with a refreshing acidity that makes this wine perfect for a hot summer day. One of the great things about this wine is that everything the winery does is by hand, from picking to sorting and pressing the grapes in their basket that dates back to 1928.
$32.99 per bottle
An Approach To Relaxation is the brand, Richard and Carla Betts are the winemakers, and this wine is simple delicious. These two are American born, living in Amsterdam, making wine in Barossa Valley, Australia. I had the pleasure of having dinner with them after a Wine Australia event where I got to pair this amazing Grenache with Korean BBQ. I can simply say that is a match made in heaven.
The Betts bought the RZA Block in the Vine Vale of Barossa because it is one of the oldest Grenache Vineyards in the world. Along with its age, it is also dry and organically farmed. They believe in minimal intervention for the wine, and to simply let the grapes--combined with a bit of old French oak--do its thing. All of these aspects leave us with a simply sexy wine. Smooth and round with curves, but a focus that drives the palate. A wine that gives off beautiful floral aromas along with diverse red fruits. The palate follows in suit with bright red fruits of cranberries, pomegranate, ripe strawberries and cherries. The finish has white pepper, mint, sweet meat and a bit of earth from a bit of whole cluster.
$56.99 per bottle