Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Hostess

Tonight, it is our turn to host our wine club. We chose a blend whose grapes grow both in the Côte du Rhône and along the west coast of the U.S. The primary varietal is Grenache. [gruh-NAHSH]

One of the world's most widely cultivated red grapes, it does well in hot, dry and windy regions. It ripens with very high sugar levels and can produce wines with 15 to 16 percent alcohol. Grenache wines are sweet, fruity, and very low in tannins. They're usually lacking in color, except in growing areas where yields are low. The vine originated in Spain where it's called Garnacha and Garnacha Tinta (or Garnacho Tinto) and is the most widely cultivated red-wine grape in that country.

In southern France not far from the Spanish border, Grenache is cultivated in the areas around Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and the Southern Rhône. It's also extensively grown in Algeria, Australia, Corsica, Israel, Morocco, Sardinia (where it's called Cannonau), and California's central valley.

In Spain Grenache is blended with tempranillo, and in most of France it's blended with as many as twelve other varietals including clairette, mourvèdre, muscadine and syrah.

Grenache Blanc (or Garnacha Blanca) is the white variety of this grape. Although not as popular as the red, it's still widely planted in both Spain and France. The white wines produced are high alcohol and low acidity.

For more information on Rhône style wines, use the search blog box at the top of this page.