Granacha is the world’s most widely planted grape, originating in Spain, it was commonly used as part of a blend to add higher alcohol levels to the wine.
It’s history as a ‘bulk’ or ‘junk’ grape did not stop the propagation to many other parts of the wine growing world where the climate is warm. World class wines made from Granacha are found in the Southern Rhone (Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and Languedoc Roussillon areas of France , South Africa, Australia, Sardinia (aka Cannonau), Central Coast and Paso Robles, California and Columbia Valley, WA.
The grape produces the best quality wine when planted in a hot dry climate in poor soil thus providing enough stress and low yields for undiluted rich flavors. It is a hearty, late ripening grape that easily stands up to harsh winds like the famous ‘Mistral’ in Southern France. In the winery, care must be taken to exclude stems from the fermentation and avoid over harsh pressing to ensure the wine is not vegetal or too astringent/tannic. Most of these wines are aged in older oak for a softer fruitier style.
Granacha has recently begun to escape it’s reputation as a ‘junk’ grape with extremely high quality wine produced in these up and coming regions:
Priorat, Spain – this area within the Cataluna area of Spain has begun to produce low yielding, highly concentrated wine from very old vines with flavors of blackberry and figs. These are generally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah and have a very long age potential. Drink now or hold for 5 – 7 years.
Navarra, Spain – 34% of the vineyards in this region of Spain are now planted to Granacha, used to produce the excellent soft juicy Rosado to be purchased and consumed within the year of release.
Southern Rhone – in addition to the traditionally recognized Chateauneuf-du-Pape region, other areas in the southern Rhone valley of France produce finely structured, fruity and food friendly wines from Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Lirac, Cotes du Rhone, and for one of the finest Rosé in the world – Tavel. These are medium bodied red blends with low tannins and lots of dark berry flavors. Pairing is sublime with rich roasted meats, mushrooms, cream sauces. Try one of these with your Thanksgiving ‘feast’.
Australia – replanted since the 1970’s, the Grenache from the Barossa Valley is intense and ‘jammy’, often blended with other hot climate grapes – Shiraz and Mourvedre to produce the famous ‘GSM’ blend.
Central Valley, Paso Robles, CA – once known to be the main ingredient of cheap ‘jug’ wines, this grape is coming into it’s own as the main ingredient in many ‘Rhone blends’ of these areas. Look for wines from producers Bonny Doon, Alban, Jade Mountain or Sine Qua Non.