Grenache Noir

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Grenache Noir, increasingly fashionable vine variety that in the late 20th century was the world’s second most widely planted, sprawling, in several hues, all over Spain and southern France but by 2010 had slumped to seventh place, thanks largely to the eu vine pull scheme. It probably owes its early dispersal around the western Mediterranean to the strength and extent of the aragón kingdom. As garnacha, it probably originated in Spain in the northern province of Aragón before colonizing extensive vineyard land both north and south of the Pyrenees, notably in Roussillon, which was ruled by Spain, and more particularly by the kingdom of Aragón, for four centuries until 1659. From here Grenache presumably made its way east and was certainly well established in the southern Rhône by the 19th century. It is also known today that Grenache was not planted in Rioja before phylloxera struck in 1901. The productive, resistant Grenache then practically replaced native varieties in Rioja Baja and made significant inroads in Alta and Alavesa. Grenache is undoubtedly, however, the same grape variety as Sardinia’s cannonau, which the Sardinians claim as their own, advancing the theory that the variety made its way from this island off Italy (where it is also known as Granaccia and Tocai Rosso) to Spain when Sardinia was under Aragón rule, from 1297 until 1713.