Grenache and Friends

Barry Weinman: 25th June 2020

Grenache is a most versatile variety. Originating in Spain, but made famous by the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache was the most widely planted red variety in the world until the late 1990s.

Whilst Grenache is the base for many cheap Spanish and French reds, when yields are kept low, and especially when old vines are used, Grenache can make great wine. Styles vary from fresh, pretty wines that have more in common with Pinot Noir, to dense, savoury reds such as those of Priorat in Spain

Originally a key ingredient in fortified wine in Australia, Grenache gradually staked a claim as a serious red wine as part of a blend.

GSM blends are now well known to many wine drinkers, but in recent years Grenache has been making a statement on its own.

Serious, powerful Grenache has been championed for decades by Clarendon Hills in McLaren Vale, but in recent years, we have seen more wines available in the lighter, prettier style suited to earlier consumption.

And because it is not as fashionable as old-vine Shiraz, it is often much better value.

My love affair with Grenache is likely to continue for some time, as long as wines like Yalumba’s Vine Vale are made.

Yalumba are committed to using a cork closure, so. I was pleased to note that if a wine is tainted, that they are happy to be contacted for a replacement. This is not a bad solution, and is one also adopted by Penfolds for their older wines.


Yalumba – Grenache – Vine Vale – 2017 (18/20pts – $35). Somewhat muted nose at first, but with air, this is oh-so-pretty. The palate is an explosion of supple, red berry fruit. Serious enough to make you pay attention, yet delicious enough to wash down some roast duck. From 70 y/o vines. 30% whole bunch fermentation.

Cape Mentelle – Shiraz/Cabernet- Trinders – 2018 (17.8/20pts – $31). Pretty, vibrant and perfumed, with attractive fruit that is a joy to smell. In the mouth, this is supple, fresh and elegant, with a delicious mouthcoating texture. The fruit is quite dense and structured. I have not tried this blend before under this label, but it is worth seeking out.

Shingleback – Shiraz – Red Knot – 2018 (17.5/20pts – $15). Mint, menthol and supple plummy fruit on the nose, with gentle savoury notes. The palate is long, succulent and balanced, with just enough oak to add depth without overwhelming the fruit. A very good drink indeed, and ridiculous value from this perennial over-achiever. From Dan Murphys.