As it is grown in many places, Grenache goes under many different names: Cannonau, Garnacha, Alicante, Granaxa, Navarra, Rivesaltes, Roussillon and a few others besides. The aromas of Grenache wine are as varied as its names too.
Grenache: from Spain out into the world
Grenache is the fourth most-planted grape variety in the world. It most likely originated in Aragon, from where it spread to Rioja and Navarra. Most growing areas are in Spain and France.
This grape variety can also often be found in winegrowing regions overseas. It is the fourth most-planted variety in California, but it seldom appears on labels there as it is used for medium-sweet blush wines or as the base for Californian port-style wines. Grenache is also used in this way in Australia, where it follows close behind Shiraz in terms of volume.
Grenache is a high-yielding grape variety and thrives best in a sunny and windy climate. The red berries are very low in pigments so they are ideal for making rosé wine. They are sometimes also vinified as white wine. However, there is also the white grape variety Grenache blanc.
Wines made from Grenache: true aromatic diversity
Grenache grapes are low in tannins and produce mouth-filling spicy wines with a high sugar content. This variety is widely planted in Spain and in the French Midi region. Tavel, one of the best rosé wines made from Grenache, comes from the southern Côtes du Rhône. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where Grenache is the principal grape variety, 90% is vinified as concentrated red wines. As a varietal in Banyuls, it produces port-style fortified wines of the same name.
The high sugar levels in Spanish Grenache wines provides concentration and stability, but not always elegance. Grenache grapes dominate plantings in Rioja and due to their low tannins are often blended with Tempranillo. On Sardinia the grape is called Cannonau where it produces full-bodied wines.