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Uncommonly revealing


Grenache, a ubiquitous grape most often used in blends, nudges its way onto state shelves and menus.

Greg Horton March 2nd, 2011

Depending on whom you believe, Grenache (Garnacha in Spain) is either the first, second or fourth most common grape in the world. The grape is relatively easy to grow and is one of the most frequently blended grapes in the world.



above Jason Poll with a bottle of wine at Mahogany Prime

In the right hands, the grape is exceptionally good at revealing terroir, or the place the grapes came from, and so lends itself to many stylistic variants. The grape has so many strengths, including approachability, that it is more difficult to explain why worldwide Grenache production has been decreasing.

In California alone, Grenache acreage shrunk by half in the first decade of the 21st century. This is according to James Laube of Wine Spectator, who also noted that the vines were torn up to make room for Syrah, which was supposed to be the “next big thing.” As with many “next big things,” it fizzled, and that cost the state acres of Grenache vines.

This worldwide decrease comes at a time when Australia has started producing some of the best Grenache in the world. Some new labels just arrived in February, including the most affordable of the new batch, Tarot by Alpha Box & Dice.

Like all of the wines from Justin Lane, Alpha Box & Dice’s iconoclastic owner and winemaker, the Tarot is a mouthful of flavor: raspberry, vanilla bean, jasmine and licorice. The tannins are dusty, and the acidity makes it food friendly. The most remarkable thing about this wine is that in spite of its outstanding quality, it’s available for about $13.

David Lack has Tarot at Broadway Wine Merchants, 824 N. Broadway, as well as one of the most remarkable bottles of Grenache in the state, Chateau Chateau Grenache from R Wines. The Chateau Chateau line has garnered scores in the low to high 90s for its entire collection, and this Australian Grenache stands out as “a velvety, rich, seamless Grenache with impeccable balance and a 45-second finish,” according to Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate.

“The Chateau Chateau is some of the most complex yet beautifully balanced Grenache in the market,” Lack said. “The juice in the bottle just leaves you wanting more.”

Betts & Scholl, another Australian winery, just supplied Oklahoma with two of the more clever names in the business in the form of two Barossa Valley Grenaches: O.G. and The Chronique. Wine Spectator gave The Chronique 93 points, and it is priced in the $40 range. The O.G. is about $24 and scored 90 points.

Clarendon Hills Grenache comes from Astralis, a winery best known for a limited production Shiraz. The winery has cult status among Shiraz lovers, but its Grenache is excellent as well. A deep, focused wine, the Clarendon Hills Grenache is loaded with pepper, blackberry, cherry, licorice and, like many Grenaches, a slight dustiness.

It’s available by the bottle at Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, 3241 W. Memorial, and on the shelf at Wild Turkey Finer Wines & Spirits, 12021 N. MacArthur.

The Chateau Chateau is some of the most complex yet beautifully balanced Grenache in the market.

—David Lack

The Fave is Australian winery Kaesler’s contribution to Grenache. Available at Bacchus Wine and Spirits, 17216 N. May in Edmond, this single-vineyard wine features raspberry, cherry, baking spices and wonderful angularity. It is serious and complex, but long on fruit at the same time.

One of the names most frequently associated with Grenache in Australia is d’Arenberg. The winery has a longstanding commitment to Grenache, and that commitment translates to quality at every price point.

The Custodian Grenache is priced about $20, and it’s a bargain for this 90-point wine, which features flavors of cherry pie, baking spices, red berry and vanilla. It’s also available at Broadway Wine Merchants.

 
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