Weekend Vinopolpick– February 22nd

 February 22, 2014

Syrah and Grenache

Around the World in (over) 80 Wines

Syrah’s popularity has soared all over the world, producing some of the most delicious and sought after wines anywhere, from Australia’s rich, sturdy Shirazes to some of France’s finest, and rarest, reds. How long Syrah grapes have been in existence in not known but its roots are most often attributed to Roman plantings in France, as it is certainly well-adapted to the steep terraces of Rotie and Hermitage, each vineyard carefully angled to make the most of the available sunshine.For centuries, red wine in the Northern Rhône Valley in Southeastern France has been made from the Syrah grape. These are big red wines, meant to age for years before being ready to drink. The regions that produced these wines, like Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, became world famous for its trademark flavor of black pepper.

A good Hermitage certainly has this in spades, but can mature into something more redolent of leather and, in riper years, spice. Traditionally Cote Rotie is the more feminine to Hermitage’s very masculine aromas, though today Cote Rotie can produce very powerful styles under the hands of certain producers. St. Joseph, like Hermitage and Cote Rotie, allows a small amount of Viognier to be mixed into the red wines, allowing a range of styles and concentrations depending on the blend. Cornas, a Northern Rhone appellation that increases in popularity every year, allows only Syrah in its reds, and are traditionally very age-worthy wines. In the southern Rhône, around Châteauneuf-du-Pape in appellations such as Gigondas and Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Syrah plays an important role, adding structure to the dominant Grenache grape and other local specialities such as Mourvèdre. Syrah has also proven most at home in the vineyards of the Langeudoc, allowed in all appellations and gaining prominence in areas such as Costières de Nimes and Faugères.

Another of Syrah’s important dominions is Australia, where it has been known as Shiraz for generations; since it was imported from France in 1831 by James Busby. At the time, the berry was referred to as Hermitage, due to the overwhelming popularity of the wines from this area, before officially gaining its own name, Shiraz.  Nowadays Shiraz is recognised as one of Australia’s great wine assets, with wineries in Southern Australia, such as Penfolds, gaining worldwide recognition.

With the success of Syrah in the Rhone and Australia, ambitious wine producers around the world were inspired to cultivate the grape. The first plantings of Syrah in California took place in the Napa Valley in 1878. The majority of vines were destroyed during the 1890′s following a devastating attack of phylloxera, but, by 1898, growers were once again planting Syrah. Spreading in the United States, Syrah is mostly grown in California and more recently in Washington. A dedicated band of American winemakers, known as the Rhone Rangers, has been devoted to Syrah and Rhone varietals, encouraging the growth these grapes have seen in the US.

In South Africa, Syrah has proven extremely adaptable to the dry, warm conditions and has also seen explosive growth in Italy with many producers in Tuscany. Though often a small percentage in blends, there are a handful of Italian wineries, such as Luigi D’Alessandro and Le Macchiole that focus on 100% Syrah wines.

If the trademark flavor of French Syrah is black pepper, dark chocolate is that of Australian Shiraz. Syrahs from the Northern Rhône are noticeably dry, with strong tannins in the younger wines The Shirazes from Australia tend to be more fruit forward, as well as more rich, full-bodied texture. California Syrah is somewhere in between the French and the Australian versions, leaning towards big and fruity, but with more noticeable tannin. The many different climates, soils, and winemaking techniques employed around the world mean that Syrah will taste differently depending on where and how it’s made, but there are some common characteristics. Syrah will normally be fairly dark colored, and rather on the tannic side. It will be relatively medium-bodied, with dark fruit and peppery characteristics.

Delas Cote Rotie Seigneurs de Maugiron 2010 ($89.95) $69 special 4+ cases available
Wine Spectator 94 points
 “Packed with lots of dark ganache, tapenade, tobacco, blackberry compote and freshly sliced plum fruit flavors…”

Delas Freres Cote Rotie La Landonnne 2010 ($269.95) $219 special 5 bottles available
Robert Parker 98+ points
“Flirting with perfection, the 2010 Cote Rotie La Landonne offers up scents of black truffles, incense, smoked game, creosote, spring flowers and black fruits…”

Domaine Jamet Cote Rotie 2009 ($149.95) $99 special 1 bottle available
Wine Spectator 97 points
 “A stunner, with captivating damson plum, bitter cherry, blood orange and blackberry fruit all melded together and lined with savory, black olive, rosemary and saucisson sec notes…”

Faury Cote Rotie 2009 ($79.95) $59 special 24 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
 “(this includes 10% viognier, which Lionel Faury said was not typical for the northern part of the appellation, where the soils are mostly schist):  Vivid ruby.  Raspberry, cherry and violet on the sexy, perfumed nose…”

Guigal Cote Rotie Chateau D’Ampuis 2009 ($219.95) $169 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 95+ points
 “The spectacular 2009 Cote Rotie Chateau d’Ampuis boasts a dense purple color along with abundant aromas of incense, charcoal, lavender, black raspberries, lard/bacon fat, licorice and background toast….”

Rostaing Cote Rotie Ampodium 2009 ($79.95) $69 special 6 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points 
“Dark ruby.  Ripe cherry and dark berry aromas are complemented by notes of anise and allspice, with subtle smoke and black pepper nuances in the background…”

Rostaing Cote Rotie Cuvee Classique 2007 ($79.95) $69 special 5 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Bright ruby. Highly aromatic nose shows raspberry, blackberry, Asian spices and dried violet. Classic Cote-Rotie…”

Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne 2009 ($159.95) $139 special 7 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points
 “Showing beautifully, the 2009 Cote Rotie La Landonne offers aromas of tapenade, bouquet garni, asphalt, blackberries, cassis, roasted meats and additional black fruits…”

Rostaing Cote Rotie La Landonne 2010 ($179.95) $149 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 96 points
 “The prodigious 2010 Cote Rotie La Landonne reveals a dense purple color along with a huge, impressive perfume of roasted meats, black currants, black raspberries…”

Yves Cuilleron Cote Rotie Madinere 2009 ($109.95) $89 special 4 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
 “Opaque purple.  Dark berries, incense, vanilla and violet on the nose, with a spicy topnote adding vivacity.  Broad and fleshy but focused, …”

Durand St Joseph Les Coteaux 2009 ($27.95) $19 special 29 bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 points
 “This is still slightly reticent, with a pronounced iron minerality holding sway over the supple cherry and black currant fruit…”

Faury Saint Joseph 2009 ($39.95) $29.90 special 35 bottles available
Josh Raynolds IWC 90 points
  “Bright ruby.  Aromas of red berries, cherry and Asian spices, with a smoky topnote.  Juicy and precise…”

Jean Michel Gerin St Joseph 2009 ($34.95) $29 special 17 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points 
“Taut and winey, almost Cabernet-like, with roasted cedar and vanilla notes ingrained in the dark currant, coffee and loam flavors…”

JL Chave Saint Joseph Rouge 2010 ($79.95) $69 special 9 bottles available
Robert Parker 93 points
 “… boasts a dense purple color along with scents of kirsch, blackberries, crushed rocks, spring flowers and licorice. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age and should drink well for 15+ years thereafter.”

JL Chave Saint Joseph Offerus Rouge 2009 ($34.95) $28 special 2 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Opaque purple.  Classic syrah aromas of cassis, cherry pit, olive and violet, with smoke and cracked pepper accents…”

Courbis Cornas Champelrose 2009 ($49.95) $39 special 18 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93-95 points
 “A prodigious Cornas possessing all the pepper, smoked game, blackberry, cassis, burning ember and scorched earth characteristics one could desire. This rich, full-bodied 2009 should be a singular Cornas to drink over the next 15+ years.”

Vincent Paris Granit 30 Cornas 2008 ($44.95) $36 special 4 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 
“Ruby-red. Expressive aromas of dark berries, lavender, violet, tobacco and cracked pepper. Offers spicy blackberry and floral flavors, with brisk acidity adding energy and lift…”

Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2004 ($89.95) $44 special 13 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 88+ points 
“Dark red. Wild, funky, game- and earth-accented dark fruit aromas, with strong iron and graphite components…”

Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2007 ($129.95) $99 special 20 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Very syrah, with strong red and dark berry flavors and complicating notes of candied flowers and Indian spices. The spiciness carries through the finish, which is smooth, sweet and very long. This is showing good complexity already.”

Chapoutier Ermitage L’Ermite Rouge 2005 ($499.95) $349 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 99+ points
 “… Dense purple to the rim, with notes of crushed rock, charcoal, roasted meats, and enormous quantities of blue and black fruits, this wine is almost painfully rich and thick, with mouthsearing levels of tannin and zesty acidity. Monumental! Anticipated maturity: 2020-2080.”

Chapoutier Ermitage La Meal Rouge 2003 ($299.95) $219 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 99 points
 “There are just over 300 cases of the 2003 Ermitage Le Meal, which tips the scales at 16% natural alcohol.  Full-bodied with great intensity, amazing freshness as well as length…”

Chapoutier Ermitage La Meal Rouge 2010 ($319.95) $299 special 6 bottles available
Robert Parker 99 points 
“…good acidity, but is clearly the most voluptuous and succulent of this quartet of monumental wines from one of the greatest appellations for wine in the world, Hermitage. This wine needs a good decade of cellaring and should continue to evolve for 40-50+ years.”

Colombier Hermitage Rouge 2009 ($89.95) $59 special 22 bottles available
Robert Parker 94 points
 “There is not much of it, but the 2009 Hermitage is sensational. Abundant aromas of blackberry fruit, white chocolate, espresso roast and acacia flowers jump from the glass…”

Delas Freres Hermitage Les Bessards 2009 ($399.95) $299 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 100 points 
“…amazing concentration, a skyscraper-like texture, supple but significant tannin and low acidity. The result is a perfect example of Syrah from this great vineyard site in Hermitage. It will offer immense pleasure for 40+ years.”

Delas Freres Hermitage Les Bessards 2010 ($299.95) $249 special 3 bottles available
Robert Parker 100 points
 “The uber-impressive 2010 Hermitage Les Bessards ranks alongside the perfect 2009. The strikingly intense powdered stone/granite minerality is apparent in this wine of great intensity…”

Delas Freres Hermitage Tourette 2009 ($149.95) $99 special 35 bottles available
Delas Freres Hermitage Tourette 2009 1.5 Liter($279.95) $219 special 9 bottles
Robert Parker 98 points
 “…Full-bodied and unctuously textured with low acidity and magnificent density, this 2009 can be drunk in 5-6 years or cellared for 30-50 years.”

Delas Freres Hermitage Tourette 2010 ($119.95) $99 special 5+ cases available
Robert Parker 96 points
 “One of the finest Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes I have ever tasted is the 2010, which comes close to rivaling their prodigious 2009.Full-bodied and powerful with sweet tannins, a striking floral/mineral component in the mid-palate, and a huge, massive finish, this brilliant Hermitage should be consumed between 2018-2035.”

JL Chave Hermitage Rouge 2008 750 ($219.95) $149 special 7 bottles available
JL Chave Hermitage Rouge 2008 1.5 Liter ($449.95) $319 special 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 94 points 
“This is suave, with a smoldering tobacco note running from start to finish, while truffle, cocoa, braised fig and warm black currant confiture notes…”

JL Chave Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2010 ($34.95) $28 special 16 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points
 “Bright ruby.  Heady aromas of blueberry, olive and incense, with a bright mineral topnote.  Elegant, seamless and precise, offering tangy black and blue fruit flavors and a touch of peppery spices.  Finishes with good back-end lift, gentle tannins and lingering sweetness…”

Andre Perret St Joseph 2010 ($39.95) $31.90 special 6 bottles available
Pascal Marthouret St Joseph 2010 ($25.95) $21.90 special 28 bottles available
Dard & Ribo Hermitage 2010 ($99.95) $79 special 7 bottles available
Rostaing Syrah Lezardes 2010 ($37.95) $33 special 12 bottles available

Rayas Fonsalette Syrah Cotes du Rhone 2008 ($149.95) $125 special 3 bottles available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “This slightly mature, old-school version shows tobacco, olive and savory notes up front, with a core of steeped plum and red currant fruit in the background. Flickers of charcoal and iron line the finish. Drink now through 2016.”

Saint Cosme Deux Albion 2011($24.95) $19 special 10+ cases available
Robert Parker 92 points 
“There is more Syrah in the 2011 than usual because it was essential for the success of this medium-bodied, deep ruby/plum/purple-colored effort. It possesses notes of spring flowers, black fruits, licorice, forest floor and spice. It is another brilliant example of this cuvee”

Le Macchiole Scrio Bolgheri 2004 ($199.95) $139 special 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “This sweet, layered wine possesses superb clarity and detail with an incredible lightness on the palate that is achieved notwithstanding its density.  Anticipated maturity: 2010-2020.”

Le Macchiole Scrio Toscana 2009 ($189.95) $149 special 12 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 97 points
 “Bold and complex, this Syrah opens with intense, superrich notes of chocolate fudge, maraschino cherry, tobacco, sweet spice and rum cake…”

Luigi D’Alessandro Cortona Syrah 2009 ($19.95) $16 special 1 bottle available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Broad, fleshy and soft, with creamy dark plum, red cherry, tar and ink flavors.  Finishes with a velvety texture and subtle notes of candied flowers and fruitcake…”

Luigi D’Alessandro Il Bosco Cortona 2007($69.96) $54 special 6 bottles available
Wine Spectator 95 points
 “The 2007 Syrah Il Bosco is marvelously focused and centered in its dark red fruit. With time in the glass, layers of tobacco, earthiness and minerals emerge, adding complexity nuance and pedigree…”

Luigi D’Alessandro Syrah Migliara 2007 ($79.95) $68 special 6 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “The estate’s 2007 Syrah Migliara, from an old-vine plot, impresses for its detail, nuance and clarity. In many ways it reminds me of Angelo Gaja’s Sori Tildin in its jewel-like precision and multi-faceted personality….”

Araujo Eisele Syrah 2003 ($149.95) $119 special 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 94 points
 “The 2003 Syrah Eisele Vineyard reveals a wonderful blackberry, chocolate, and peppery-scented nose along with good subtlety as well as authoritative richness, power, and purity. It is a stunning Syrah that should last a decade even though it will provide immediate gratification.”

Araujo Eisele Syrah 2004 ($179.95) $149 special 4 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points
 “…dark ruby/purple color, floral and blackberry notes, a subtle peppery touch and a hint of meat. The wine is pretty and does include a small percentage of Viognier in the blend (usually around 3-4%).”

Araujo Eisele Syrah 2010 ($249.95) $189 special 4 bottles available
Robert Parker 96 points
 “Another standout, the 2010 Syrah Eisele Vineyard is drop-dead gorgeous. A bevy of black olives and plums burst from the glass in an explosive wine loaded with varietal nuance and sheer power…”

Betz Syrah La Cote Rousse 2010 ($59.95) $47 special 16 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93+ points
 “(from a warmer site than the La Serenne)  Bright red-ruby.  Black raspberry, flowers, minerals and spices on the nose, plus a hint of black walnut that reminded me of Hermitage.  Juicy on entry, then sinewy and penetrating in the middle, and clearly less pliant and sweet today than the La Serenne. …”

Colgin IX Estate Syrah 2004 ($229.95) $179 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 96 points
 “…super-pure blue and blackberries intermixed with hints of new saddle leather and meat. High but sweet tannins, powerful flavors, and an overall sense of poise characterize this stunning effort.”

Colgin IX Estate Syrah 2006 ($179.95) $149 special 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “The French-styled 2006 IX Syrah Estate offers an exotic nose of roasted meats, bouquet garni, and flowers, silky tannins, and full-bodied blackberry and cherry fruit. Drink it over the next 5-7 years.”

Colgin IX Estate Syrah 2008 ($199.95) $149 special 7 bottles available
Robert Parker 94 points 
” Juicy bacon fat, roasted meat, grilled herb and smoky notes are classic northern Rhone Syrah characteristics. A floral component suggests some Viognier could be co-fermented, but this is 100% Syrah…”

Colgin IX Estate Syrah 2009 ($249.95) $199 special 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 96 points 
“Sweet spices, licorice and tobacco all add complexity, while firm mountain tannins frame the saline, focused finish…”

Failla Hudson Vineyard Syrah 2010($59.95) $51.90 special 33 bottles available
Antonio Galloni 95 points
 “…A dark, rich wine, the 2010 saturates the palate with endless waves of flavor. There is so much going on in the glass, it’s hard to know where to start. A deep, layered finish rounds out this explosive, rich Syrah beautifully. Jordan used 100% whole clusters here, but they are totally integrated with the wine.”

Ramey Syrah 2011 ($41.95) $36 special 3+ cases available
Antonio Galloni 94+ points
 “Ramey’s 2011 Syrah is flat-out gorgeous. In this vintage, the Syrah includes the Rodgers Creek fruit, so it is more varietal than is typically the case. Savory herbs, dried flowers, black cherries and black pepper are some of the many notes that flow through to the finish. Quite simply, the 2011 is an extraordinary wine in its price range.”

Reynvaan The Unnamed Syrah 2009 ($69.95) $59 special 3 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “The Unnamed Syrah has great structure and intense aromatics of tropical fruits, crushed raspberry, rose pedal and hints of green tea. Very concentrated fruit gives the mouth feel an elegant yet balanced flavor profile. Good acid structure cuts through the palette for a strong finish.”

Reynvaan Foothills Reserve Syrah 2011 ($69.95) $59 special 1 bottle available
Wine Advocate 92-94 points
  “The 2011 Syrah Foothills Reserve (100% Syrah all from the newly planted estate vineyard, Foothills in the Sun) is a beautiful wine that possesses classic Cote-Rotie-like aromas and flavors of raspberry and blackberry, game, iron, bacon and hints of herbs as well as a seamless, medium-bodied and supple mouthfeel…”

Sequel Columbia Valley Syrah 2008 1.5 Liter ($119.95) $79 special 6 bottles available
Wine Enthusiast 95 points
 “Bursting with sweet toast from the barrel aging, this offers ripe and pretty berry fruit, deep and long, with highlights of oolong tea. The alcohol is not intrusive, and the acidity keeps it buoyed and lively.”

Betts and Scholl Black Betty Shiraz 2007 ($59.95) $39 special 23 bottles available
Wine Spectator 92 points
 “Inky ruby. Pungent, heady aromas of black raspberry, cola, incense and potpourri. Smells like a head shop, with notes of patchouli and star anise coming up with air. Taut and focused, offering spicy red and dark berry flavors and a strong suggestion of cracked pepper. ”

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2010 ($17.95) $9.90 special 24 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points 
“The 2010 Thomas Hyland Shiraz displays a deep garnet-purple color and aromas of ripe blackberry and cherry preserves plus hints of bacon, pepper, tree bark and cedar. Concentrated and taut on the medium-bodied palate, it has crisp acidity and a medium level of grainy tannins, finishing long. Drink it now to 2019.”

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2007 ($149.95) $99 special 17 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “presents youthfully mute aromas of warm blackberries, stewed plums, kirsch, cedar and cloves with an array of Indian spices opening out with air. In the full-bodied mouth it gives very firm, coarsely grained tannins, very crisp acid and good concentration, finishing long and chewy.”

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2008 ($149.95) $89 special 17 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “Deep violet.  Complex bouquet of red and dark berries is complemented by smoky minerals, potpourri, anise and black pepper.  Rich but focused on the palate, offering sweet black raspberry and cassis flavors, a velvety texture and strong mineral snap.  This elegant,precise wine boasts impressive finishing sweetness.  For such a rich wine, this is very graceful and surprisingly approachable, although it’s built to age.”

Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2009 ($149.95) $79 special 11 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points
 “Opaque violet color.  Potent, spice-accented aromas of dark berry compote, cola, and potpourri, with a vanilla nuance gaining strength with air.  Fleshy, palate-staining dark berry flavors show excellent depth and definition, with spicecake and candied violet notes adding complexity.  Weighty, sweet and powerful on a finish that features floral and star anise elements.”

Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Reserve Shiraz 2009 ($21.95) $16 special 5+ cases available
Wine Spectator 90 points
 “Firm, focused and juicy, with guava, currant and white pepper flavors, coming together smoothly against refined tannins on the lingering finish. Best from 2014 through 2019.”

Terlato Chapoutier Shiraz Malakoff 2008 ($39.95) $19 special 5+ cases available
Wine Spectator 91 points
 “Lean and lithe, tangy on balance, with roasted tomato overtones to the blackberry and pepper flavors, lingering on the polished finish. Tannins slide in on the finish. Best from 2014 through 2019.”

Two Hand’s Bellas Garden Shiraz 2011 ($79.95) $49 special 36 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points  
“Dark ruby.  Spicy cherry and dark berry aromas are complemented by an exotic Indian spice quality.  Chewy, round and nicely concentrated, with sweet, focused black and blue fruit compote flavors lifted by tangy acidity. …”

Two Hands Harry and Edwards Garden Shiraz 2010 ($69.95) $49 special 2 bottles available
Wine Advocate 92 points 
“… lovely black fruits, fresh crushed blueberries, plums and licorice with suggestions of coffee and eucalyptus. Full bodied, taut and muscular in the mouth, it has a medium level of finely grained tannins and crisp acidity, finishing with good persistence. Drink this one 2014 to 2022.”

Two Hands Max’s Garden Shiraz 2010 ($69.95) $49 special 1 bottle available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “Glass-staining ruby.  Cassis, anise, Indian spices and woodsmoke on the intensely perfumed nose. Shows very good energy on the clinging finish, which features gently chewy tannins and a touch of spicecake.”

Two Hands Sophie’s Garden Shiraz 2010 ($69.95) $49 special 1 bottle available
Stephen Tanzer 92 points 
“Opaque ruby.  Sexy aromas of cassis, candied licorice, black pepper and toasty oak, along with notes of lavender and mocha….”

Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2012 ($12.95) $7.50 special 4+ cases available
Case:12 Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2012 ($149.95) $79 special (that’s just 6.50 per bottle)
Wine Spectator 88 points
 “Offers a lightly roasted feel, with an espresso frame and notes of ganache, steeped plum and blackberry fruit hanging through the finish, where white pepper flickers.”


Ignored in much of the world, Grenache is the grape chiefly responsible for some of the greatest, and increasingly celebrated, red wines of the world. A late ripening vine that produces thin-skinned grapes, Grenache can be grown successfully only in warm regions.  Grenache is a vigorous and hardy vine with a strong wooden frame, often grown as free-standing bush vines. It is resistant to wind and drought, making it suitable for use in arid climates. If there is one single characteristic of Grenache-based wines it is a sweet ripeness. The texture ranges from elegant and silky to a more rustic expression depending on the soil, levels of ripeness and other choices made by the wine maker and of course the terroir and the soils the Grenache vines are planted in. Medium to full in weight, Grenache has a deceptively lighter. Depending on where it’s grown, Grenache can range from smells of orange rinds and grapefruit to more herbal and tobacco notes when grown in cooler regions.

In France Grenache is most widely planted in the southern Rhone Valley and throughout both Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. It’s a grape that, used in blends, provides winemakers with all sorts of possibilities. While 13 red wine grapes are allowable by law in Chateauneuf du Pape, Grenache  is the undisputed king of the wine region. Almost 72% of the region is devoted to Grenache, while its closest competitor, Syrah, covers closer to 5%. While most Chateauneuf du Pape wines are produced from blends, there are some wineries that use 100% Grenache, while others feature as much as 90% or more Grenache in the blend.  Near the border with Spain in Rousillon, Grenache is the chief ingredient in the sweet, strong vins doux naturels made in Maury and Rivesaltes.

However, Grenache is not just important to the Rhone valley. In Spain, Garnacha is the second most planted red-wine grape variety. It is out-planted only by its modern blending partner, Tempranillo. Spanish Garnacha- a hot growing region in Spain where late ripening Garnacha grapes can get very high sugar levels, adding both body and spice. Garnacha from this area often smell slightly of ruby-red grapefruit with lots of cherry and licorice flavor.

Garnacha plays a particularly important role in New World areas that are embracing Rhone varietals.  Each year more and more new bottlings emerge from the Australia and the US that have Grenache as their foundation, often the key ingredient in a blend with Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Saint Cosme Gigondas La Claux 2011 ($89.95) $69 special 14 bottles available
Wine Spectator 95 points
 “Delivers a blaze of cassis, steeped plum and blackberry fruit, tightly coiled with chalky minerality and backed by lilting bergamot, rooibos tea and blood orange notes.”

Santa Duc Gigondas Grand 66 2009 ($99.95) $79 special 6 bottles available
Robert Parker 94-96 points
 “The newest cuvee, the 2009 Grand Grenache 66 (16.2% alcohol) is a tiny cuvee bursting with kirsch liqueur, lavender, licorice and spice box. This is a stunning example of Grenache at its best, with wonderful freshness, and for Grenache afficionados…”

Clos du Caillou Chateauneuf du Pape Les Safres 2009 ($79.95) $39 special 24 bottles available
Robert Parker 91 points
 “A blend of 95% Grenache and the rest Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault aged in old foudres, reveals classic notes of herbes de Provence, cherry jam and lavender in a full-bodied, opulent, sexy, open-knit style …”

Olivier Hillaire Petit Pieds D’Armand CDP 2008 ($59.95) $33 special 5+ cases available
Wine Spectator 93 points
 “A very stylish, perfumy version, with alluring incense and black tea aromas giving way to a silky palate loaded with kirsch, pepper, shiso leaf and lingering plum skin notes…”

Ferrand Chateauneuf du Pape 2011 ($49.95) $39 special 4+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 90-92 points
 “(94% grenache, with mourvedre, syrah and bourboulenc):  Bright purple.  High-pitched aromas of cherry, licorice, cracked pepper and lavender.   Dense, spicy and chewy in texture, showing wound-up dark fruit and candied licorice character …”

Rayas Pignan Chateauneuf du Pape 2008 ($179.95) $159 special 2 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
 “..Thi refined, focused wine stains the palate with perfumed flavors of raspberry and garrigue. This has the juicy acidity and spine to reward cellaring but I find it awfully delicious now.”

Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Mon Aieul 2010 750ml ($119.95) $99 special 15 bottles available
Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Mon Aieul 2010 1.5 Liter ($249.95) $219 special 9 bottles available
Robert Parker 97 points
 “…stunningly concentrated with great intensity as well as classic blueberry, peppery, incense, camphor, fig and licorice characteristics. Rich and full-bodied with slightly more freshness than their profound 2007, the 2010 Mon Aieul should age effortlessly for two decades.”

Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac 2010 ($119.95) $89 special 12 bottles available
Robert Parker 96 points
 “…huge notes of kirsch, exotic herbs, lavender, cedar, fig, black cherry, black currant, licorice and roasted meats. This flamboyant, rich, full-throttle Chateauneuf du Pape should age well for two decades.”

Agly Maury 2010 ($19.95) $16 special 4 bottles available
Bachelet Maury 1939 ($149.95) $99 special 1 bottle available
Domaine Bory Rivesaltes 1927 ($119.95) $99 special 6 bottles available

Artazu Santa Cruz de Artazu Garnacha 2007 ($39.95) $27 special 29 bottles available
Jamie Goode (Wine Anorak) 93 points
 ” Lovely pure, sweet nose of bright raspberry and cherry fruit. The palate is fresh, elegant and pure with lovely sweet fruit. Sleek and refined, this is really polished but still has great definition and freshness…”

Artazuri Garnacha Navarra 2011 ($11.95) $7.70 special 35 bottles available
Jamie Goode (Wine Anorak) 90 points
 “Lovely fresh raspberry fruit nose. Crunchy, lively and pure. The palate is ripe, supple and elegant with bright cherry and raspberrry fruit, finishing with some grippiness. Vibrant and juicy, and quite lovely”

Zorzal Garnacha VV 2010 ($14.95) $8.80 special 5+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 88 points
 “Bright purple.  Jammy black and blue fruits on the nose and in the mouth.  Open-knit and juicy, with good clarity and lift …”

Grenache and Syrah are two complementary grape varieties that are blended in France, Spain and the New World. Their combination has been one of the most successful red wine marriages, and, as we mentioned before, is the classic blend for the southern Rhone’s best red wines: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and a host of increasingly exciting Côtes du Rhone Villages.Syrah and Garnacha are grown throughout Spain, but are most notably blended together in the prestigious wines of Priorat, where old vine Garnacha is the key to the wine’s dark berry and chocolate flavors.  In this environment the richness of the two grapes is accentuated and the intense, minerally wines grown on the schists of Priorat provide the backbone for very age-worthy reds.

The Grenache grape is most at home in the dry, almost drought-prone vineyards of the southern Rhone and Priorat, reaching its full ripeness easily, allowing Syrah to contribute its dark flavors and structure. The blend typically uses more Grenache than Syrah but there are exceptions. In a Syrah-dominant blend, Grenache helps make the wine more approachable in its youth and enhances the dark fruit flavors and spice of the Syrah. Australian regions such Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale produce huge volumes of Grenache and Shiraz every vintage. The wines are richer than those of Spain and France, ranging from dark and spicy to full and fruity.

In the United States the blend of Syrah and Grenache is used in California and Washington by many wineries, looking to produce wine that is both fruit-forward and aromatic with crisp acidity. Notable vineyard, Tablas Creek, has worked with Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1989 to bring in cuttings of Côtes du Rhône wine grapes to America. Grenache is often the dominant varietal here as well, blended with a touch of Syrah as well as other Rhone varietals such as Mourvedre(creating the popularly abbreviated GSM). Instead of herbal aromas like the Old World versions, American GSMs are known for more licorice and floral aromas.

There is a variatable ocean of Grenache and Syrah available in Southern Rhone. Today, we have focused on villages outside of Chateauneuf du Pape that carry these two powerful grapes as their main components, along with blends of Syrah and Grenache from neighbors to the South of the Rhone, areas such as Languedoc and Rousillon.

Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueyras 2011 ($21.95) $19 special 36 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points
 “Deep ruby.  Highly perfumed aromas of red berries, fresh flowers, white pepper and allspice.  Silky and seamless on the palate, offering flavors of sweet red berries…”

Courolulu Vacqueyras Classique 2009 ($21.95) $17.70 special 21 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
“…Energetic but deep in raspberry and blackberry flavor.  Shows a refreshingly spicy quality on the finish, which clings with very good authority and length.”

Roucas Toumba Vacqueyras Restangues 2010 ($44.95) $37 special 27 bottles available
Robert Parker 92 points
 “…opaque ruby/purple color is followed by notes of licorice, graphite, blackberries, cassis liqueur, and subtle smoke, scorched earth and forest floor. Impressive aromatics and flavors are found in this viscous, seriously endowed 2010, suggesting it can be drunk now and over the next decade.”

Bertrand Stehelin Gigondas 2011 ($37.95) $30.90 special 23 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 88-90 points
 “Ruby-red.  Pungent, smoky cherry and dark berry aromas are complemented by notes of cracked pepper and Indian spices.  Exotic black cardamom and clove notes add complexity to deep cherry and cassis flavors, with zesty minerality providing lift.  The finish shows good power and a firm, tannic edge.”

Gour du Chaule Gigondas Cuvee Tradition 2010 ($37.95) $33 special 26 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93-94 points
 ” Stains the palate with intense black raspberry and cherry flavors that pick up an exotic floral pastille nuance with air.  Rich but lithe, with excellent finishing clarity and gentle tannic grip.”

Pailleres Gigondas Terrasses du Diable 2010 750 ($47.95) $39.50 special 19 bottles available
Pailleres Gigondas Terrasses du Diable 2010 1.5 Liter ($119.95) $99 special 6 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “…Silky and seamless in texture, offering vibrant raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and an exotic touch of blood orange.  Anise and herb notes come up with air and carry through a long, bright and focused finish.  I underestimated this sexy wine last year.”

Boisson Cairanne Cuvee L’Exigence 2011 ($27.95) $24 special 24 bottles available
Boisson Cotes du Rhone Villages Cairanne 2011 ($19.95) $16.60 special 21 bottles available

Boisson Cairanne Cros de Romet 2011 ($21.95) $18 special 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points
 “Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by sweet aromas of black raspberry and black cherry fruit intermixed with hints of balsam wood, pepper, licorice and bouquet garni. Full-bodied and impressively textured, it should drink nicely for 4-5 years. ”

Grands Bois Cairanne Maximilian 2010 ($27.95) $21.90 special 5+ cases available
Robert Parker 92 points
 “…aromas of underbrush, loamy soil, sweet kirsch, black currants and spice box are followed by a spicy, peppery wine with excellent fruit, intensity and density as well as a medium to full-bodied style. Consume it over the next 5-7 years.”

Oratoire St. Martin Haut Coustias 2010 ($39.95) $33 special 2 bottles available
Robert Parker 91 points
 “…Displaying an opaque ruby/purple color as well as tremendous density, glycerin, extract and richness as well as more structure and concentration, it should drink nicely for 7-8 years.”

Grands Bois Cairanne Maximilian 2011 ($24.95) $18 special 36 bottles available
Domaine Richaud Cairanne 2009 ($34.95) $29 special 37 bottles available
Rabasse Charvin L’Estevenas Cairanne 2004 ($34.95) $29 special 18 bottles available
Canorgue Cotes du Luberon Rouge 2010 ($21.95) $17 special 1 bottle available
Grand Cassagne Costieres de Nimes 2009($11.95) $9.90 special 1 bottle available

Liquiere Faugeres Racines 2011 ($24.95) $20.90 special 4+ cases available
95% Carignan, 5% Grenache

Liquiere Faugeres Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($19.95) $16 special 4+ cases available
45% Carignan ; 35% Grenache ; 10% Syrah ; 10% Mourvèdre

Leon Barral Faugeres Jadis 2010 ($49.95) $39 special 9 bottles available
Leon Barral Faugeres Valiniere 2010 ($79.95) $69 special 15 bottles available

After founding the domaine in 1993, Didier Barral decided fairly quickly that biodynamic practices were the best choice for farming his vineyards. Most of his vines are very old, but vary up to ninety years of age, keeping yields naturally low. “Valinieres” is a cuvee blend of Mourvedre and Syrah, while “Jadis” is composed of Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache.
Clos Mogador Priorat 2007 ($99.95) $69 special 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 96 points
 “…Dense and Reubenesque on the palate, it has great concentration, loads of savory fruit, impeccable balance, and several years of aging potential. Accessible now, this lengthy offering will be at its best from 2013 to 2027. It is one of the stars of the vintage in Priorat.”

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2011 ($21.95) $15.70 special 5+ cases available
Stephen Tanzer 91 points
 “Bright purple.  Aromas and flavors of ripe red berries, cola and spicecake, with a deeper note of licorice emerging with air.  Lush and seamless, with very good finishing breadth and spicy persistence.  Shows plenty of upfront appeal but this wine has the concentration and balance to reward at least mid-term aging.”

Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi 2008($74.95) $59 special 2 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “Deep ruby. Rich, complex aromas of raspberry, Asian spices, smoky minerals and violet. Focused and precise but also lush and sappy, with a texture of liquid silk and strong minerality adding to its intense red and dark berry flavors. Finishes impressively long, with resonating minerality and very suave tannins.”

Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi 2010 ($69.95) $59 special 14 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 94 points 
“…Sappy and minerally, offering intense, spice-accented red fruit and floral pastille flavors with superb clarity.  Wonderfully supple in texture, with outstanding finishing persistence and only a hint of sweet tannins.”

Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi 2011 ($69.95) $59 special 3+ cases available
Wine Advocate 94-96 points
 “The 2011 Finca Dofi is a blend of 95% Garnacha and 5% Syrah. It has another exuberant bouquet, like the older sister of the 2011 Gallotrops, endowed with beautifully defined floral aromas. There are hints of broom and fennel infusing the scintillating red fruit and a sorbet-like freshness…”

Jimenez Landi Sotorrondero Mentrida 2010 ($24.95) $21.90 special 16 bottles available
Wine Advocate 90 points 
“…fresh, lifted bouquet of dark cherry, crushed strawberry and dark chocolate that is well defined and focused. The palate has a dash of white pepper on the entry as well as layers of chocolate-tinged dark berry fruit with a keen thread of acidity, although it finishes just a little abruptly. Nevertheless, this is a highly satisfying, full-bodied wine.”

Bodegas Zerran Montsant 2011($17.95) $14 special 6+ cases available
Robert Parker 92 points
 “Even more so is the 2011 Zerran, which ratchets up the level of concentration and ripe fruit. It reveals abundant kirsch, lavender, black raspberry and dusty, loamy, earthy scents intermixed with notions of spring flowers and blackberries…”

Pasanau Germans La Morera Montsant Priorat 2003 ($39.95) $29 special 2 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 90 points 
“Ruby-red.  Deep cherry and blueberry aromas display notable purity and an expansive personality.  Silky in texture, with sweet red and dark berry flavors complicated by gentle spice, smoked meat and mineral accents.  Finishes on a peppery dark berry note, with smooth tannins and excellent persistence.”
Tablas Creek Esprit de Table Rouge 2011 375ml ($31.95) $27 special 5 bottles available
Tablas Creek Esprit de Table Rouge 2011 750ml ($59.95) $49 special 35 bottles available
Tablas Creek Esprit de Table Rouge 2011 1.5 Liter ($119.95) $99 special 5 bottles available
Wine Advocate 93 points
 “A blend of 40% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Counoise, the 2011 Esprit de Tablas has a core of sweet black raspberry and cassis that is cut by more savory, meaty nuances, pepper and spice. Medium to full-bodied, rich and beautifully textured, with ripe tannin, it’s a more streamlined, fresh version of the cuvee that relies more on elegance and complexity than sheer depth and richness. It will have 10-12 years of longevity.”

Betz Besoileil 2010 ($49.95) $41.90 special 16 bottles available
Stephen Tanzer 93 points
 “(65% grenache, 18% mourvedre, 11% cinsault and 6% syrah):  Bright red.  Captivating nose offers strawberry, animal fur, garrigue, black and white pepper and flowers.  Wonderfully aromatic and smooth in the mouth, with excellent sappy lift to the raspberry and cherry flavors complicated by wild herbs and pepper…”