I have written before about the amazing work that McLaren Vale growers are doing to identify and categorize the impact that their tumultuous geology has upon the flavours of their Shiraz (see Winestate Magazine, “Super Serious about Shiraz”, Sep-Oct 2017 Edition). Some of the “Valers” have also formed the “Fiano Fellowship” (see WBM, “The Fiano Fellowship”, Jan- Feb 2019 edition), to evaluate the region’s Fiano.
Now it looks like Grenache may be going to get a guernsey at the same caper, if the recent tasting conducted by McLaren Vale winery, Willunga 100, is any indication. www.willunga100.com
On a cold July evening Willunga 100 gathered a group of “Grenache Groupies” at the National Wine Centre for a, “Tasting & Tapas”, event in which the excellent Grenache from Willunga 100 were compared and contrasted to Grenache from around the world. Each flight was matched to an elegant, up-market tapas dish.
Five of the thirteen wines presented on the night were from Willunga 100 including the WILLUNGA 100 “THE TITHING” GRENACHE 2009 out of their museum. This wine was redolent with complex bottle maturation aromas, had a super smooth and silky palate with lashings of flavour and still after ten years had a hint of tightness on the finish. It was a brilliant food wine as well as a darn good drink on its own. The 2016 being the current vintage of “THE TITHING”, had the same inherent characteristics as its elder sibling but was younger, brighter and tighter. By comparing the two, one could see the longevity that awaits the current release as it elegantly matures over time.
The other Australian Grenache shown were the:
2018 YALUMBA BAROSSA BUSH VINE GRENACHE: A lighter, brighter “New Style” Grenache designed to appeal to younger wine drinkers.
2017 WILLUNGA “THE HUNDRED” CLARENDON GRENACHE: This was a big, rich, flavoursome wine with an attractive bouquet of spice and herbs, and delightful tight flavours that will evolve sensationally over time. The grapes for this wine come from 100-year-old Grenache vines.
2017 WILLUNGA “THE HUNDRED” BLEWITT SPRINGS GRENACHE: Showing its site-specific characters, it is slightly softer and gentler than its Clarendon kin, but more elegant and svelte.
2017 YANGARRA McLAREN VALE GRENACHE: Spicy aromas with a good dollop of dried herbs. A beautifully smooth, rich, round, sophisticated palate with a tight finish.
2017 HEAD WINE BAROSSA GRENACHE: A Deep and densely coloured wine with a hint of sweetness on the front palate and a tight, grippy finish.
2016 WILLUNGA 100 “THE HUNDRED” McLAREN VALE GRENACHE: A true “keeper” with a long and distinguished life in front of it.
The international Grenache wines that were shown were:
2017 Ventoux Rouge ‘Vox Caritatis’ from Southern Rhone (90% Grenache)
2016 Spice Route Swartland – South Africa
2016 Gigondas, Domaine des Bosquets (75% Grenache)
2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau de Vaudieu (81% Grenache)
2016 Mas La Mola, ‘Vi d’Altura’ Priorat Spain
2015 El Coto Rioja Garnacha Crianza
A great feature that was shown was the “Grenache Language & Descriptors” chart – see attached image**. Personally, I think that if that was reduced to the “Body, Tannin & Acidity” scales, it could be added to the back labels of Grenache, just as Riesling producers today are adding the “Riesling Dryness Scale” to their wine back labels. This would make it easier for consumers to choose the right Grenache for them out of the “Traditional” style (bigger, richer wines) and the emerging “New Style” which are lighter not only in alcohol, but more importantly in flavour and character. Food for thought!
This delightful event showed that Willunga 100 have well and truly mastered the fine art of producing excellent Grenache. They have mastered the nuances of their different sites, as their wines were excellent.
It also demonstrated that great Aussie Grenache is “World-Class” as well as re-enforcing the fact that the variety is able to consistently produce great wines around the world, whether it is called GARNACHA or GRENACHE. Cheers!
**Credit for Chart format: Australian Wine Discovered Educator Pack