Grenache is a type of red grape variety. These grapes are believed to be of European origin, particularly from the Spanish wine growing regions. These red wine grapes are characterised by late ripening and have high content of alcohol. These grow well in the hot and dry regions and bear these climatic influences in their style and flavour. These grape varieties are known to be highly prone to oxidation. This makes Grenache wines spicy. These are soft on palette.
The journey of this grape variety to Australia can be traced to the pioneering efforts of two gentlemen- James Busby and Dr C R Penfold. James Busby bought the plantings of this grape variety from Europe in his famous collection of 1832, which actually paved the way for modern viticulture in Australia. South Australia became the first home of these grape varieties. In particular, the wine regions of McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Barossa Valley took the lead in growing Grenache grapes.
The craze for growing this grape variety was such that this was the most planted grape variety in the whole of Riverland region. Early on, this was used mostly for making the fortified Port-styled wines. No doubt, this was the king of grapes for the fortified wines which were the craze of wine lovers. However, the preferences changed soon thereafter and with the introduction of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, this grape variety was replaced in vineyards.
For the past 4-5 decades, there seems to be a renewal of interest in the Grenache wines in Australia. Besides the single Grenache wines, this was also being used in making the blends. The popularity of the GSM blends is well known. This blend comprised of Grenache, Shiraz and Mouvedre. Many popular Australian wine brands produce this wine varietal, though it is mostly used in making the blends now. Some of these brands are Wirra Warra, Elderton Estate, Reilly’s, Richard Hamilton, Yaldara Reserve, Robert Oatley Cumulus Rolling, Heathcote Estate and others.