The Grenache grape variety is one of the most planted grapes in the world. It is the most planted red grape in Spain, and is popular in many other European countries as well. Having originated in Spain, it has long since spread throughout the world. The grape is mainly used as a blending wine, but can also be found as a varietal, with probably the most famous of these being the wine produced in the Chateauneuf du Pape.
Grenache wines tend to be pale red in color, with a flavor of sweetness. They can produce anything from big beefy chunky reds, to light, fragrant fresh style wines.
In France, most Grenache comes from the Rhone region, and it is extensively grown and produced in Australia and California as well. There is also a white version of this grape - Grenache Blanc, but this is far less popular.
Grenache most likely originated in Aragon in Northern Spain where it is known as Grenacha. When the Roussillon region was annexed by France Grenache was already well established on both sides of the Pyrenees. From there it made it's way through the Languedoc to the Southern Rhone region, where the vine was well established by the 19th century. In the early 20th century, following the phylloxera epidemic, Grenache was widely planted in Rioja and throughout France to replace the lost vines.
Grenache first arrived in Australia in 1832. The vine quickly gained popularity and until the mid 1960s, when Shiraz took over the helm, it was Australia's most widely planted red wine grape. Australia has become famous for it's Grenache varietal wines, producing world class Grenache's, particularly in McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley.
Grenache was an important grape in the early California wine industry. Because of it's high yields and alcohol level the grape was perfectly suited as a blending component for jug wine. Over time in the United States the grape has gained some popularity for it's use as a varietal
France has the title of the biggest Grenache growing country in the world, with approximately 95,000 ha planted. It is widely planted in the Languedoc-Roussillon, Southern Rhone, Minervios, Fitou and Corbieres regions as well as the Drome department.
The grape is also widely planted in Spain with around 82,000 ha currently being grown there. The major plantings of Grenache can be found in the Riojas, Navarra, Campo de Borja, Carinena, Costers del Segre, Emporda, La Mancha and Madrid regions.
Significant amounts of Grenache can be found growing in Australia and The United States, with smaller amounts being found in South Africa, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.
Grenache will grow best in hot, dry soils that are well drained, but is very adaptable to varying vineyard soils. It will do well in Schist and granite soils as well as stony soils such as those found in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It is most suited to dry and warm climates.
Although Grenache are red grapes, the wine they produce is so pale that it is commonly mixed with much darker wines. Grenache also tends to be rather low in flavor while being high in alcohol, these are two of the main reasons it is used for blending with other grape varieties. It is, however, possible to create red wines from Grenache grapes that have complex flavor, good color, and interesting texture. Grenache can be spicy, and exhibits red fruit flavors such as raspberries often with a velvety finish. It pairs well with roasted meats, and spicy Asian cuisine.