Let's talk Grenache Blanc

I’ve had assorted bottles over the years. About 10 years ago, a wine merchant convinced me to try a bottle of the Las Rocas Grenache Blanc. Meh. I’ve probably had a few blends with it since then, but nothing worth remembering, so today after work when 2013 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cote du Rhone showed up on the BTG menu, which claimed it was Grenache Blanc, I decided to look in on it. Served in an ugly clunky restaurant glass.

A good, pleasant wine. Light floral nose and a bright sweet fruit palate. Just a tiny bit of that oily southern Rhone flavor, but none of the breadth, depth and meatiness of a Roussanne-based southern Rhone white. More fruit driven. pleasant and light on its feet. Dry but not tart. The website says vinification is non-malo, which is a bit of a surprise because the acidity is light, no sharpness, and I did not notice a citrus component. Not a bad wine for something that appears to be available for under $10.

The website says the wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.

I enjoy Grenache Blanc quite a bit and there are some very nice versions in the Central Coast. Generally crisp but with a nice fruity base. Nothing like Roussanne or Marsanne. The first US one I had was Tablas Creek, which does a nice job each year. Others that have been very tasty are Curran (though I haven’t seen hers in a few years), Tercero and Shane.

Jaffurs makes a good one.

Paging Larry Schaffer…Paging Larry Schaffer

Edmunds St. John’s Heart of Gold is more or less 50-50 grenache blanc and vermentino, which is a great combo, it turns out.

Big Grenache Blanc fan here, must find a recent TN I have somewhere.

La Conreria d’Scala Dei Les Brugueres from Priorat is a long time favorite here. 100% Grenache Blanc from extremely old vines grown on licorella in steep terraced vineyards. This is a big, rich wine, reminiscent of an Hermitage at a relatively modest price.

So what do you want to talk about???

Shane Finley makes a nice one too!!

I highly recommend Bill Frick’s version (Frick Winery) in Dry Creek. He makes a plethora of delicious wines that are quite traditional in style.

Funny. I just had some from Paso Robles at a seminar and one guy kept asking what the flavor profile was.

“Taste the wine, a-hole,” I kept thinking.

Anyhow, there’s a lot of it in Spain and also a lot of it in the south of France. Most isn’t very good, but that’s like most wine in most places. But the thing to remember is that supposedly it’s a mutant of Grenache, which likes to grow in warm places. When grown in similar warm places, GB tends not to have enough acidity to make it a great white wine. Nonetheless, there is some that’s pretty enjoyable as you’ve discovered.

Personally though, I’m not a huge fan of Roussanne or Marsanne either. I’d put all of those in the OK but not particularly inspiring category.

I wanted to get my mind off the Mets blowing a 7-1 lead to the Padres. I was surprised by the wine I was drinking because I had very low expectations and most of the rest of the list was in the “I might not throw it out if served at a wedding, but it’s a close call” category. M. Chapoutier makes a lot of wine of very varying quality and price. I do not recall very many, if any, threads about the grape and I was getting tired of the same old threads, so I thought I would post on a non-noble grape.

I guess if you have low/no expectations, grenache blanc can be a revelation. But if you are paying top dollar for one, you might be disappointed. The Brugueres is very nice, but rather unique, as David writes. The best ones seem to be producers who put care into it specifically, or on the other side those simply producing a palatable wine at a cheap price; the middling middle-priced wines are usually blahsville.

I came here to say this.

It’s grown a fair bit here in the Roussillon but was originally planted for making fortified whites and ambrés. It’s cousin Grenache gris makes a more refined, mineral wine with better acidity but even then I think the best versions are blends involving Macabeu, Carignan blanc and Carignan gris.

There are some superb white wines made from the varieties in the Roussillon and Languedoc.

There are also too many overly floral, flabby or slightly oxidised versions around. I would hesitate before choosing one that has more than 14% alcohol.

Cal Pla Mas d’en Compte is full, rich, minerally, but carries some fresh fruit in there. I believe it is a Priorat white from Eric Solomon’s company, but it is far from the norm.

Those Chapoutier Belleruche wines (red and white) are pretty terrific values and a go-to on a list like the one you describe (they tend to show up in these situations given the size of Chapoutier). Some years the acid isn’t as prominent as others; I prefer the acid-driven years. I’m a fan of Grenache Blanc in general.


Clos De Fees nuff said!

Okay - a bit more about the grape in the Santa Barbara County area . . . .

It can and does make a great stand alone wine with plenty of acid - if picked early enough. Many wait for riper flavors and end up with a flabbier wine. Folks often either let it hang for a long time OR press it pretty hard - pH’s really rise precipitously as you press hardeer.

It is oftentimes blended with Roussanne around here by the likes of Andrew Murray, Joey Tensley, and Kaena, to name a few.

I dig it on its own and feel that it makes a complex, stand alone wine. I now purchase fruit from two sites - one that is a bit cooler and therefore the grapes hold their acid better and a warmer one where I get richness. I ferment and age in older French oak.

I’m doing a ‘grenache wars’ tasting tonight - SB County vs Paso Robles - and will be pouring my 2013, my current vintage, along with my 2006, the first vintage I ever made. One striking characteristic of the wine is that, as it ages, it takes on a petrol quality a la older Rieslings. Though no research has been done, my guess is that the same chemical that is in Riesling that causes this, TDN, exists in these skins as well . . .

A really interesting fact about the grape - since it shares the same thick, tannic skins as grenache does, the juice at crushing is bright orange a la Tang. The color falls out, but only near the end of fermentation. Totally freaks you out the first time you work with it!!!


Wish I could be there for the tasting! Hope you have fun, and post notes for us!!