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Often blended with Syrah and Mourvedre especially in the Rhone Valley of France. Grenache stands alone very well. The grape does very well in dry, hot climates like the southern Rhone, Spain, California, eastern Washington, and Australia. In these areas it develops great sugar ripeness, and frequently higher alcohol content. I seem to push French wines frequently, but in the case of Grenache, I think I would recommend opening the door to looking first to Spanish Garnacha. Full bodied, peppery spice, tangy acid, and grippy tannin makes the Spanish versions really intriguing, and very approachably priced. Garnacha is good with lamb, game meats, and seasoned steak. Other old world styles of this grape can be found on the island of Sardinia, where it may be labelled Cannonau. Here too, the peppery flavor and aromas mingle with dark tart fruit flavors. Cannonau from Sardinia can be found in the states, usually at a pretty approachable pricepoint.

In the Rhone Valley Grenache adds color to the GSM blend. In general, the wines are medium to full bodied, but widely diverse based on relatively loose blending restrictions. Rhone Valley reds are fun wines for food pairing because they offer such a diverse array of flavors, textures, and aromas, based again on a variety of blending ratio opportunities.

Aussie GSM's are fuller in body, higher in alcohol content, and support more opportunity to throw a ribeye in the pairing mix, but complement lean gamey kangaroo meat just as well. Single varietal Grenache from Australia is a bit of a challenge to find in the states.

California produces all varieties of Grenache. GSM blends from Paso Robles, where a group of winemakers create homages to Rhone Valley reds. The Rhone Rangers, as some refer to these producers make uniquely American, full bodied, bold, fruity styles of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. To further showcase their love of Rhone grapes they also grow Viognier.

Washington is my recent choice for showing new world style Grenache, somewhat leaner than the jammy fruit style of Paso Robles, but in no way small. Still peppery, and bright present fruit. It is also frequently found as a dry rosé in both Washington and California.

My recommendation for a compare/contrast class would be a Spanish Garnacha, a Cannonau from Sardinia, and a Walla Walla Grenache, this can be done at a price around $20 per bottle. A different, equally fun comparison/contrast would be a Côtes-du-Rhône, an Australian GSM, and a Paso Robles GSM. Find out how to book your own tasting.

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