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Rancio sec Hors d`Age Domaine Puig-Parahy
Grenache is the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. In the Southern Rhône it provides the backbone for most red blends and is the key component of Châteauneuf du Pape. Some Châteauneufs such as Château Rayas are even made from 100% Grenache. In the Languedoc it plays a key role in many blends and is responsible for much of the Rosé wine from Southern France.
It is the most extensively red wine grape grown in Spain where it is known as Garnacha Tinta - in Rioja it is blended with Tempranillo and is most widely planted in the warm Eastern Rioja Baja region. The very best Garnacha wines come from Priorat in Catalonia, where fruit from old Garnacha bush vines is blended with small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon to produce wines of startling intensity and depth of fruit.
Grenache was once Australia`s most widely planted black grape but much of it was grubbed up in the 70s and early 80s to make room for more fashionable grapes. However plantings have been on the increase since the early 1990s and the best examples are found in the Barossa Valley from dry-farmed, bush-pruned, old Grenache vines.
The putative partnership of Languedoc and Roussillon has been one of convenience and geographical contiguity rather than any stylistic or cultural synergy. Roussillon lies at the southern edge of Mediterranean France, its climate informed by the Pyrenees and its outlook aimed towards Catalonia. Perhaps a not entirely unrelated phenomenon lies in the fact that it has not been especially well-served by the French Appellation Contrôlée system with Collioure being the only table wine designation, with Côtes du Roussillon – established as late as 1979 – serving as a rather vague umbrella for everything else.
Where the wines were once rustic and often oxidised, they are now rich and infinitely interesting. The famous fortified styles of Banyuls, Maury and Rivesaltes certainly show off the wonders of Grenache and Muscat, yet one should not forget the table wines: whites from altitude with extraordinary minerality and fresh acidity, and reds which are often reminiscent of their lofty cousins over the border in Priorat.
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