As i said yesterday we are going on a whirlwind world tour of Grenache this week, todays stop-over is in the Rhone Valley in France. Grenache is on of the most commonly planted grapes in the Rhone valley with a particular favour for it in the Southern Rhone. Chances are if you have enjoyed a bottle of Cotes du Rhone red of later, Grenache probably made up between 30% and 80% of the blend. It is found in all across the AOC of the Southern Rhone, Rasteau, Gigondas, Vacqueryas and most definitely in Chateaunuef-du-Pape.
In Chateaunuef-du-Pape, both Grenache Noir and Blanc are permitted in the list of 13 Grapes to be used in the blend. It is also in Chateaunuef that the most famous soils on which Grenache is grown can be found, ‘galets roules’ large pebbles of quartz and glacial deposits that have been smoothed over time. These stones absorb the sun’s heat during the day and release it slowly at night keeping the vine and grapes constantly warm.
Grenache is a grape that loves and thrives in heat, and this can be borne out in the fact that nearly 70% of the vines in Chateaunuef -du-Pape are Grenache Noir. Most of the Grenache vines are bush or goblet grown, as you can see in both pictures. The wines of Chateaunuef tend to big and full of rich warm fruit flavours.
Incidentally they also tend to have relatively high alcohol content as Grenache tends to ripen to near 14.5%-15% alchol in the Rhone. Areas like Vacqueryas and Gigondas also have similar characteristics to Chateaunuef but at a more wallet friendly price. But if you want to check out Rhone Grenache all you need look for is your basic Cotes-du-Rhone, as many are Grenache Dominated. Grenache is also used in the Rhone to produce some delightful rosé wines in areas such as Lirac and Tavel. Stay tuned in tomorrow when we will venture in to the huge vineyard known as Langudoc and Roussillon