Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Australian Grenache Tasting

Grenache is a difficult variety to get right. It ripens late and needs a hot climate. Picked too late, and it is overly alcoholic, picked too early, and it is green. The best picking window is small. Doing a straight Grenache is particularly hard, as this variety predominantly expresses fruit, mainly raspberry, whereas acidity and tannins are lacking. Then there is the issue of balancing the fruit with savoury flavours through appropriate treatment in the winery.

This  blind tasting involved seven Grenaches, four of them straight, three as the dominant variety in blends. They all came from the two main growing areas, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. They were
- 2014 Henschke Johann's Garden GMS, BV
- 2014 Teusner Avatar GMS, BV
- 2016 Kay Brothers Griffons Key Grenache, MLV
- 2015 John Duval Annexus Grenache, BV
- 2005 Torbreck Les Amis Grenache, BV
- 2016 SC Pannell GSTouriga, MLV
- 2015 Toby Bekkers Grenache, MLV

The format was that a number of wine enthusiasts had to rank the wines from 1 to 7. The wine with the lowest score was the winner. These were the outcomes:

1) The three McLaren Vale wines came out on top. It is often said that the best Grenache comes from there, but the Barossa has quite a number of very old Grenache vineyards.

2) Everybody scored the Torbreck Les Amis last. Too alcoholic and a bit herbal at the same time.

3) The winner was the Kay Brothers Griffons Key Grenache, a highly acclaimed wine. I did not score it quite so high, as I thought the tannins were a bit sharp. However, it certainly has the fruit/savoury mix right.

4) I thought the Henschke deserved a better rating than fourth. I enjoyed the elegance, mouthfeel and finish of this wine.

Overall, it was an interesting tasting, where all wines had something slightly different to offer. However, the quality would not have matched a similarly put together Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz tasting (which we have done in the past).

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