Grenache, a popular grape variety on borrowed time

I have always viewed Grenache as a nice plump. Halfway between Sancho Panza and Sergeant Garcia. One moderates and protects his master while exuding good humor, the second chases Zorro but admires him in secret and makes people smile. Both carry good-heartedness and gluttony as a standard. We appreciate them immediately, easily. But they find it difficult to function on their own, without an adventure companion. Grenache follows the same trajectory. Except that recently, the scenario has changed and his place among the characters is evolving.

Grenache is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in France. According to a report from the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) of 2017, it covers 10% of the national vineyard and, with 81,000 hectares, it is located in terms of area just behind Ugni Blanc (82,000 ha, mainly cultivated for cognac) and Merlot (112,000 Ha). As popular as it is essential. It is even more present in France than in Spain, its native country, where it covers 62,000 hectares, especially in the north. Very faithful to these two countries (which represent 87% of its world surface), it is found, sporadically, in other countries, the United States, Australia, Argentina or Morocco for example. It is the eighth most cultivated grape in the world for wine and spirits.

This grape has a bottle: probably originating in Aragon, it reached French territory in the Middle Ages and gave birth to several varieties still present in the vineyard. He is beautiful, too, with his stocky, tortuous, tormented postcard stocks. And its thick, rounded leaves. And its large clusters of heavy and bluish berries, round and juicy.

Drought resistant

Loving the sun and heat, resistant to drought, it logically thrives in Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and the Rhone Valley. In addition, it is vigorous, fertile and adapts to a variety of soils. A dream grape variety? Almost. It delivers generous, gourmet, high-alcohol wines. His charming side is hailed in Rioja and Navarre, where he gladly speaks for himself. She is also the star of the maury, banyuls and collioure in Roussillon.

If it can do wonders with old vines, low yields and good terroirs (he really likes large pebble terraces, dry and stony soils), it is sometimes wiser to blend it with a more tannic grape and acid (more austere, in a word) like syrah to obtain a more reasonable balance (at the risk of reaching 15 ° alcohol in the bottle). He is then the amiable companion. Whether it is in the great wines for keeping from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the wines for Sunday meals such as gigondas, vacqueyras, cairanne or wines of the simpler appellation Côtes-du-Rhône (for which it represents half encépagement). Whether it is also in the rosé of Provence, with syrah and cinsault, since its smoothness lends itself very well.

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Grenache, a popular grape variety on borrowed time

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