If you belong to a particular tribe you might immediately yell out HellFire Club! which is the home of S&M but you'd be on a vastly different tangent to us. We're thinking more about the G.
The G, we don't have to tell you, stands for Grenache in its long living and delicious partnership with S (shiraz) and M (mourvedre). But just as happened when Phil Collins left Genesis, Grenache is also quite the superstar as a solo artist.
While Grenache originally hails from Spain and has its spiritual home in France's Rhone Valley, the Grenache we grow and make in Australia is its own special breed. Australian Grenache, primarily from the warm climes of South Australia has long been a stalwart of the wine industry. Originally planted here in the 18th century, Grenache was by far our most widely planted grape until Shiraz took over in the 1960's. Perhaps with that came a loss of focus and interest in Grenache as a stand alone grape but it seems now the spicy, berry-driven characteristics of quality Grenache are being rediscovered and celebrated.
The original Australian plantings were all bush vines. You might have seen these unique vineyards in your travels through McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Old, gnarled vines without any trellising or support, sitting low to the ground. And here may be the secret to this varietal's revival.
When it comes to Grenache the older the vine, the better the wine. Grenache made from old vines yielding less fruit turns out to be rich, luscious, spicy and intense. As James Halliday notes "I may be accused of bias but I genuinely believe McLaren Vale Grenache and GSM blends to be of world standard".
Another reason for the resurgence of Grenache may be our tastes shifting toward lighter red wine styles. We fondly associate Grenache with Pinot Noir and Tempranillo when it comes to palate weight and flavour profiles but it is definitely the more robust of the three (so rather than Phil Collins maybe it's a mustachioed Dave Crosby standing next to Stills & Nash. We're still trying to work out which grape is the Neil Young equivalent. Drop us a line if you have an idea).
Regardless of which rock star best represents this superstar grape, the proof will always be in the drinking and Old Vine Grenache made with modern sensibilities over-delivers, especially if your criteria is fruit driven, fragrant wine with intensity and plushness. If you haven't sampled a solo Grenache recently we think, much like the grape itself, your time has come.