Grenache and friends

Grenache grapes (Photo: via Wikipedia)

‘Delicious’ is a word that crops up often in my tasting notes for grenaches and grenache-based red blends. It’s a development worth applauding: Australian winemakers are capturing more of the essential fruit and charm of grenache and not trying attempting to make a Robert Parker-style Châteauneuf-du-Pape. ‘Try-hard’ wines, over-wooded, over-extracted and overripe, are these days in the minority where once they were distressingly common.

Is it the general trend I’m perceiving – for drinkers to be wanting softer, lighter, more approachable red wines? Reds which taste of their grape origin and not of the barrel, or some other artifact? Perhaps all of the above.

My recent tasting of 100 grenache and other Rhône varieties and blends, together with fringe Italian and Spanish varieties, yielded a stack of lovely drinking wines.

Top-rated grenaches included Chapel Hill Bush Vine ’14, Thistledown The Vagabond ’16, Gemtree ’16, Richard Hamilton Burton’s Vineyard ’14, Zonte’s Footstep Love Symbol ’15, Penny’s Hill The Experiment ’15, Bondar Rayner Vineyard ’16 (all straight grenaches), and the blends: Elderton Western Ridge Grenache Carignan ’15, Serafino GSM ’15, and Angove Family Crest GSM ’15.

Other wines that delighted were Mr Riggs Montepulciano ’15, Mayford Tempranillo ’15, LAS Vino Pirate Blend NV (Portuguese blend led by touriga), Turkey Flat Mataro ’16, Tar & Roses Sangiovese ’16, Mount Majura Dry Spur Tempranillo ’15 (and Mount Majura’s two other temps, Little Dam and Rock Block); Angullong Fossil Hill Sagrantino ’15, St Leonards Durif ’15, Angullong Fossil Hill Barbera ’15, Humis Vineyard Carmenere ’15, Bleasdale Second Innings Malbec ’15, Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec ’15, and the best value of all, Berton Vineyard Durif ’16, which costs AUD $12.

There’s plenty of variety out there if you’re seeking a change from cab, shiraz and pinot.

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