Grenache Noir grapes





In many ways, Grenache is the hot weather cousin of Pinot Noir, with its thin skins and need for low yields. It is a late ripener and therefore requires a long growing season, which leads to sweet grapes and therefore high alcohol wines. The yields ought to be kept low in order to produce quality vino. It tends to prefer hot, dry climates with cool nights, and rocky well drained soil like schist and granite


Grenache is also Pinot Noir like in the winery. It needs a lot of attention and is prone to oxidation (a gnarly flaw which leads to vinegary wines). The fermentation and maceration ought to be long, slow and cool. Although Grenache can fly solo, it is often blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre. The way in which it differs from Pinot Noir is in its capacity to make exquisite fortified and dessert wines, as in the Port style wines of Australia and the Vins Doux Naturels of France's Languedoc-Roussillon. 





                                Places it is Happiest

Old World  New World


  • Rhone Valley: Grenache is the dominant rock star grape in a land of blends. Mourvèdre and Syrah are often the backup singers, but there can be up to 13 used in any blend. Our favorite regions, and definitely worth exploring:
    • Chateauneuf du Pape: the home of the Avignon popes in the 15th century (hence the moniker House of the new popes), makes stellar, chewy, meaty, food friendly reds.         
    • Gigondas:
    • Vacqueryas:
    • Tavel & Lirac: Makes amazing rosés
  • Languedoc Roussillon: Grenache plays second fiddle to Carignan in this region, but it still makes notable fleshy contributions to dry wines:
    • Fitou
    • Corbieres
    • Minervois
  • ...and sweet (where its natural affinity for high alcohol and residual sugar is an asset rather than a liability in the production of Vins douc Naturels)
    • Maury 
    • Banyuls

Spain: Grenache often flies solo here, but can still be used as part of a blend in some less known appelations.

  • Rioja (primarily in the less prestigious Baja region)
  • Priorat: where the vines are old, the soil is poor and the wines delicious
  • Navarra: another region where rosés rock.
  • Cariñena: One of my favorite bang for the buck appelations.

Italy: Don't go looking for Grenache on any Italian wine label. It is better known as Cannonau, where it thrives on the hot, maritime climates of Sardinia and Sicily.

Australia: Frequently blended with Australian Shiraz and Mourvèdre but also stellar on it's own in certain regions. It was actually introduced to the reigon in the 19th century and there are still places where vines are more than 100 years old. Current regions where it rocks and our fave producers:

  • Mclaren Vale
    • SC Pannel
    • Yangarra estate
    • Gemtree
    • d'Arenberg
  • Barossa:
    • Charles Melton
    • Yalumba
    • John Duval

Grenache is also a dominant grape in the production of Australia's Port style fortified wines. 

California: Grenache is a force to be reckoned with in California's Central Coast region thanks to a group of iconoclastic wine makers known as the Rhone Rangers. In the 1980s a number of varieties native to the Rhone were dying out in the region, so 



 Common Description

Color: Low in pigment, ruby with hints of salmon or orange
Aroma: Strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, cranberry, black pepper, stewed fruits
Body: Medium to full
Acidity: Low to medium
Alcohol: High
Tannin: Low
Flavors: Blackberry, stewed prunes, cherry, raspberry, black plum, violet, licorice, black pepper, smoky, gamey, earthy, funky, spicy