Grenache finds its groove

Yalumba winemaker Kevin Glastonbury (Photo: Yalumba Wines)

The grenache revival is catching on, and it’s about time, I say.

In planted hectares, this underrated grape has been in decline for some years, but ironically, at the same time there are more really good wines being produced.

I suspect it’s because the grenache being removed is lower-quality vineyards, while the better vineyards are being retained. Concurrently, more winemakers are realizing what a gem of a variety grenache can be when given the attention it deserves.

Yalumba is a Barossa-based company which fields an array of grenache wines, recently expanded with a rosé. The 2016 Yalumba Block 2 Grenache Rosé makes a statement, not least with a premium price. It’s AUD $40. The wine is superb, and very much in the zeitgeist dry, pale-coloured, Provence style. It’s been barrel-fermented and aged on lees with batonnage (lees stirring) for at least eight months. The flavour is very more-ish and the texture seductive.

Moving downwards in price, we have the 2016 Old Bush Vine Grenache, which has to be one of the great bargains, year in, year out, at AUD $22 a pop. Delicious raspberry flavours, light soft tannins and great drinkability as a young wine. It’s easy drinking but avoids the simple tutti-frutti style. According to winemaker Kevin Glastonbury, the average vine age was 60 years, from the company’s Tri-centenary vineyard, plus growers. It was aged in 5 to 6-year-old hogsheads of 300 litres. New or small oak is verboten for grenache.

The 2015 Vine Vale Grenache (AUD $35) is a step up in gravitas. It’s a new addition to the portfolio, sourced entirely from Block 4 of the Tri-centenary vineyard, planted in 1949.

Then there’s the 2015 Carriage Block Grenache (AUD $45), from a different vineyard in the Moppa subregion. Savoury and structured, with terrific depth, it’s from dry-grown vines planted in 1954: just two acres yielding 115 cases.

Finally comes the 2013 The Tri-centenary Vineyard Grenache (AUD $65). This is a weighty, powerful, concentrated wine with deeper colour than usually found in grenache and serious tannin structure, thanks to ancient, low-yielding vines. It’s all from the oldest block of the Tri-centenary Vineyard, which is in the Vine Vale subregion, close to Angaston, planted in 1889. The name tri-centenary comes from the idea that the life of these vines has spanned three centuries. In other words, these are seriously rare vines. And they still do a great job.

This wine will be released in December-January and there are just 250 dozen.

Needless to add, all these wines are pure Barossa. All are excellent in their station.

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