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.

Terroir

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

Spain

France

Italy, Sardinia

Croatia

Macedonia

Australia

South Africa

USA

Notable Grenache Blanc Producers by Country

Spain

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

France

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

South Africa

The Foundry, Stellenbosch

Rall Wines, Swartland

USA

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

Red Rhône Grapes

Syrah

Grenache

Mourvedre

Cinsault

Counoise

Muscardin

Vaccarese

Picpoul Noir

Terret Noir

White Rhone Grapes

White Rhône Grapes

Roussanne

Marsanne

Viognier

Bourboulenc

Clairette

Grenache Blanc

Picpoul Blanc

Picardan

Muscat-Blanc

Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay
Chenin Blanc
Cinsault
Grenache
Malbec
Marsanne
Nebbiolo
Petit Verdot
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Meunier
Riesling
Tannat
Teroldego

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).


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