About this WINE
Originally from Greece, Georges Lelektsoglou is part of the furniture in and around the Rhône Valley. He once worked as a Courtier de Campagne, looking for bulk wines for the likes of Guigal and Chapoutier, when he started making his own personal selections of wines to celebrate the birth of his eldest son in 1983. His wife's family was part of the co-operative and owned a historic vineyard in Larnage. Along with the Cave de Tain, they produced a quality Crozes-Hermitage in ’83 that was a great commercial success. When he found exceptional bottles of wines, Georges also offered them to some of France’s most celebrated, Michelin-starred restaurants, including Troisgros, Chapel, Bocuse and Gagnaire.
He opened up his first cellar in ’88 and started to select personal cuvées in small quantities, looking for old, well-looked after vines and always working with trusted friends. He makes a Crozes-Hermitage and a selection of Côte-Rôtie in tiny volumes. Georges was a distributor of Château Rayas when he found a unique, tiny plot of 100-year-old Grenache vines very close to Rayas’ vineyards – in the exceptional Pignan lieu-dit of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. When he’s not in the cellar, you will find Georges in his treasure-trove of a wine shop near Tain l’Hermitage.
The most celebrated village of the Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the birthplace of the now indispensable French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system – imperfect though it may be. Compared to the Northern Rhône, the vineyards here are relatively flat and often feature the iconic galet pebbles – the precise benefits of which are a source of much debate. Minimum alcohol levels required by the AOC are the highest in France, but at 12.5% it is well below the natural generosity of Grenache, which only achieves its full aromatic potential when it is fully ripe and laden with the resultant high sugars. Syrah and Mourvèdre contribute the other defining elements in the blend, adding pepper, savoury spice and structure to the decadent Grenache. There are a further 10 permitted red grape varieties which can be used to adjust the “seasoning”. Of the five white varieties permitted, it is Grenache Noir’s sibling – predictably perhaps – Grenache Blanc, which dominates, though Roussanne shows a great deal of promise when handled well, notably at Château de Beaucastel.
Grenache (Noir) is widely grown and comes in a variety of styles. Believed to originate in Spain, it was, in the late 20th century, the most widely planted black grape variety in the world. Today it hovers around seventh in the pecking order. It tends to produce very fruity, rich wines that can range quite widely in their level of tannin.
In many regions – most famously the Southern Rhône, where it complements Syrah and Mourvèdre, among other grapes – it adds backbone and colour to blends, but some of the most notable Châteauneuf du Pape producers (such as Château Rayas) make 100 percent Grenache wines. The grape is a component in many wines of the Languedoc (where you’ll also find its lighter-coloured forms, Grenache Gris and Blanc) and is responsible for much southern French rosé – taking the lead in most Provence styles.
Found all over Spain as Garnacha Tinta (spelt Garnaxa in Catalonia), the grape variety is increasingly detailed on wine labels there. Along with Tempranillo, it forms the majority of the blend for Rioja’s reds and has been adopted widely in Navarra, where it produces lighter styles of red and rosado (rosé). It can also be found operating under a pseudonym, Cannonau, in Sardinia.
Beyond Europe, Grenache is widely planted in California and Australia, largely thanks to its ability to operate in high temperatures and without much water. Particularly in the Barossa Valley, there are some extraordinary dry-farmed bush vines, some of which are centuries old and produce wines of startling intensity.