Vine varieties: Grenache

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Grenache, fell from 25,935 tonnes in 2004 to 15,857 tonnes in 2013. Until the mid 1960s, 90% of Australia’s red wine was fashioned from the three Rhône varieties: Shiraz, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Then Cabernet Sauvignon and its Bordeaux handmaidens started to make inroads, followed in due course—though initially less convincingly—by Pinot Noir. Shiraz became less fashionable, Grenache and Mourvèdre even less so. Just when it seemed these varieties would cease to be at all significant, the worldwide interest in the Rhône varieties and wine styles reversed the trend. Century-old, dry-farmed, bush vine Grenache in McLaren Vale (especially) and the Barossa Valley is once more in demand for table wine (previously most went into fortified wines)—see gsm. But, as ever, that portion of the crop produced from high-yielding, irrigated Riverland vineyards will make bland, lollyish wines. While total production has declined (and the drop is mostly in the irrigated regions), the best old-vine grapes from specialist regions such as McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley are increasingly finding their way into super-premium bottlings, often at high prices.