Grenache Blanc Grape Variety & Wine Profile
(Pronounced “gruh-NASH BLAHN”)
Grenache Blanc is a “Superhero.” It’s full-bodied, charming, juicy, rich, nutty, spicy, and usually invisible. Sound too good to be true? Well, that’s because it’s a mutant. Like Marvel Comic’s X-Men, developing unique traits over time fighting for peace and equality, Grenache Blanc’s superpower crosses borders while elevating everything it touches to a higher level. Genetically, Grenache Blanc is a color mutation of Grenache Noir, AKA Grenache; its better known “twin” and shares an identical DNA profile.
Who’s Producing Grenache Blanc?
Grenache Blanc is most famous for its role in France’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône, and the Languedoc-Roussillon regions where it’s permitted to be blended with all 13 Rhône varietals both white and red! However, it’s in Spain where it’s considered a real hero—cultivated throughout the country. Here it’s found in the fantastic destinations of Navarra, Terra Alta, Alella, Rioja Costers del Segre, Tarragona, Aragón, and Rioja, where it’s called Garnatxa Blanca, as well as in Cariñena, Calatayud, and Somontano; and blended with Viura, Parellada, Moscatel and Malvasia.
As you may have gathered, Grenache Blanc is a great team player that makes good wines even better, especially when teamed with Roussanne and Marsanne. Like most superheroes, it’s a showoff, being excellent at expressing its terroir. When nurtured in a warm, dry climate and planted in a mix of sand, limestone, and clay, Grenache Blanc produces a medium-sized, compact bunch of small berries with crisp acidity and mineral expression of its roots. Unchecked, it can get “fat and flabby,” reaching high-flying alcohol levels up to 15%, and in France, that’s when it ends up in fortified and Vin Doux Naturel wines.
For years Grenache Blanc has been vinified as a single varietal in Spain and France. Still, it wasn’t until 1992 when it was planted in California’s Central Coast that its individual traits became recognized for the rest of the world. At that time, famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer Château Beaucastel and the United States wine importer Vineyard Brands grafted Grenache Blanc vines on to rootstock at Tablas Creek Vineyards in Paso Robles. Pow! Success! After that, it didn’t take long for other New World winemakers trying to meet the demand for alternative whites beyond Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to follow suit. Now, Grenache Blanc is cultivated in Napa Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, El Dorado County, the Shenandoah Valley, the Russian River Valley, Red Hill Lake County, Monterey County, Applegate Valley, and Yakima Valley. While still a generous contributor to blended wines wherever planted, when vinified alone, it’s usually made dry, varying widely from lightly flavored, mineral-infused expressions to lush and dense.
Grenache Blanc Tasting Notes
At its best Grenache Blanc is a delicious full-bodied wine that’s typically vinified dry. In the glass, it’s straw-colored amid hints of green and aromas of toasted nuts, cumin, nutmeg, dill, and anise. Fresh underbrush raises to white flowers, yellow peach, lychee, tangerine, and subtle mineral. Its aromatics carry through to its taste, with medium to high alcohol, and can have a creamy texture when aged on its lees.
Food Pairing Grenache Blanc
Grenache Blanc’s refined and intricate flavor profile makes it well suited for richly seasoned dishes. The secret to complementing cuisine with Grenache Blanc is to consider its spiced hints and rich texture, remember not to go too spicy; bouillabaisse, oily fish like sardines, tuna and mackerel cod, ceviche, miso soup, Raman, nut crusted baked goat cheese, roasted pork with apples, Chinese chicken salad, spicy peanut sauce, orange chicken, salsa Verde, white bean salad, turnip gratin, summer vegetable stew, stuffed zucchini flowers, Korean fish sausage, buttered corn on the cob, patatas bravas, escargots with garlic butter and crab cakes are a few dishes that will make Grenache Blanc soar.
Current Countries Producing Grenache Blanc
Notable Grenache Blanc Producers by Country
La Sastreria, Carinena
Espelt Vailet, Emporda
Jordi Oliver Conti ‘JOC’, Emporda
Artadi Artazu ‘Santa Cruz de Artazu’ o, Navarra
Flor de San Martin Garnacha, Navarra
Scala Dei – Massipa de Scala Dei, Priorat
Terroir Al Limit Soc. Lda. Historico, Priorat
Terroir Al Limit Soc. Lda. Pedra de Guix, Priorat
Bodegas Exeo Cifras, Rioja DOCa
Vinas del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla, Somontano
Edetària Selecció Blanc, Terra Alta
Bodegas Edetaria ‘Edetaria’ Seleccio Vinyes Velleso, Terra Alta
Celler Barbara Fores El Quinta, Terra Alta
Celler Frisach l’Abrunet, Terra Alta
Celler Pinol L’Avi Arrufi Fermentat en Barrica, Terra Alta
Herencia Altes Benufet, Terra Alta
Herencia Altes Garnatxa, Terra Alta
Herencia Altes La Serra, Terra Alta
Mas de Lavail Le Sud, IGP Cotes Catalanes
Felicette, IGP Pays d’Oc
Francois Lurton ‘Les Hauts de Janeil’, IGP Pays d’Oc
Arnaud de Villeneuve Rivesaltes Ambre, Languedoc-Roussillon
Bruno Duchene Collioure Vall Pompo, Languedoc-Roussillon
Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes Ambre, Languedoc-Roussillon
Domaine Cazes Rivesaltes Cuvee Aime Cazes, Languedoc-Roussillon
Julie Brosselin ‘Mata Hari’, Languedoc-Roussillon
Les Vignerons du Terrassous Rivesaltes Ambre Hors d’Age 12 Ans, Languedoc-Roussillon
Domaine l’Anglore Sels d’Argent, Rhone
Famille Brechet Chateau de Vaudieu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Le Clos du Belvedere, Rhone
Ferraton Pere & Fils Cotes du Rhone Samorens, Rhone
Rayas Chateau des Tours Cotes du Rhone, Rhone
The Foundry, Stellenbosch
Rall Wines, Swartland
The Valley Project, Santa Ynez Valley
Kunin Wines, Santa Barbara
Priest Ranch, Napa Valley
Kinero Cellars Alice, Paso Robles
Linne Calodo ‘Contrarian’, Paso Robles
Tablas Creek Vineyards, Paso Robles
Two Shepherds ‘Centime’ Catie’s Corner Skin Fermented, Russian River Valley
Ambyth Estate, San Luis Obispo County
Curran, Santa Ynez Valley
Mt. Vernon Winery Cuvee, Sierra Foothills
Reynvaan Family Vineyards Estate, Walla Walla Valley
Rotie Cellars, Washington
Rulo Winery, Yakima Valley
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Written By Jeff Bareilles
Jeff or “JB” is a native to the San Francisco Bay area and wants to live in a world where wine is served with every meal. As a beverage and food professional with more than 20 years of experience, he’s contributed to The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine; The Pho Cookbook (James Beard Award Best Signal Subject 2018); Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life (James Beard Award Lifetime Achievement Award 2018); Manresa: An Edible Reflection; Happiness is on the Plate: Episode #1; Wine Spectator; Wine Enthusiast; The Wall Street Journal; San Francisco Chronicle; and GQ Magazine. When he’s not “tasting” and eating he’s writing about food and beverage or developing recipes in his laboratory (AKA: kitchen).