Cellarmasters is reporting a 135% increase in sales of Grenache over the last 12 months, as Australians fall increasingly in love with the red wine variety.
The data has been released on the eve of National Grenache Day, which is being celebrated on September 20.
“Grenache was long considered the poor cousin to Shiraz and was mainly used in wine blends or to make fortifieds,” explained Joe Armstrong (below), Head of Wine at Cellarmasters.
“However, recently winemakers have started to play and experiment with the variety and create new and exciting takes on it, which has helped Grenache to shine on its own. Australian winemakers are creating some fantastic expressions of it!”
Grenache is often referred to as a “warm climate Pinot Noir” as it grows particularly well in warmer regions like the Barossa, while Pinot Noir thrives in cool climates like Tasmania.
In fact, a Grenache beat out Shiraz at the Barossa Wine Show 2019 to win Most Outstanding Barossa Wine – Premium Classes. The trophy went to Hentley Farm’s 2018 Old Legend Grenache.
Hentley Farm chief winemaker Andrew Quin said: “An integral blending component for Barossa’s wines, it is rewarding to see the new direction of Grenache as a stand-alone variety recognised by the judges tonight.
“Grenache is important for the future of our region’s diversity and sustainability.
“To be part of its evolution is very exciting.”
Aussies embrace lighter reds
The rise of the red wine variety goes hand-in-hand with the growing trend of Aussies drinking lighter-style reds.
“We are seeing a trend with customers moving towards brighter, more fruit expressive styles like Pinot Noir and Italian style wines, and Grenache certainly sits in that category,” Joe said.
Winemaker Mark “Jamo” Jamieson (above) makes Blood Brother Republic BBR, an award-winning Grenache from McLaren Vale, which last year won James Halliday’s Grenache Challenge.
“I think Australian wine drinkers are falling in love with Grenache because the juicy, fruitforward flavours combined with subtle tannins make it both an excellent food wine and a wine you can enjoy on its own,” Jamo said.
“To get the best flavours from your Grenache, pair it with protein such as slow-roast lamb or barbequed meat. It also works well with meaty fish like grilled tuna steak or game such as duck or goose,” he recommended.
As a lighter style red wine, Grenache is best enjoyed when it’s served at a cooler 12-14C degrees.
“So pop it in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes before drinking, depending on the season you’re drinking it, to really get the best of your Grenache,” Jamo suggests.
Grenache is a grape of Spanish origin – known as Garnacha – and was first planted in the Hunter Valley in Australia, but South Australia is where it has thrived. The best Australian Grenache is considered to come from McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley.