Venteux Grenache 2013
Grenache is one of the world's most important grapes. It was born in Spain, where it's called Garnacha and forms a central part of blends with Tempranillo and Cariñena (Carignan). Moving across the Pyrenees into France, it's again blended, usually with Syrah and Mourvèdre as well as Carignan and Counoise. Elsewhere, particularly South Australia and South Africa, it's again a key component of blends.
Grenache is blended so often with other grapes because of its characteristics: it has low tannins and low acidity, meaning that it can be soft and flabby on its own. Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Tempranillo all add tannins and acidity, firming up the wine and making it more complex. However, in the right hands and in a climate with hot days and cool nights, it is possible to make interesting Grenache on its own.
California is the land of the single-varietal wine and it's perhaps because Grenache is at its best in blends that the grape variety has never really taken off in the state. The popularity of Grenache will only change through single-varietal wines, and Paso Robles is the place to go to. It's hot - and Grenache needs a warm climate to get fully ripe - so the wines are full-bodied, rich, and fruity, a style popular with US drinkers.
Venteux are a small Paso producer who make a fantastic Grenache. The 2013 has ripe red fruits - raspberries and red cherries - and earthy, liquorice aromas, with a nice maturity. What makes the wine stand out are the grainy, textured tannins, so difficult to get with Grenache, giving the wine real depth and concentration. Venteux don't distribute, so make a trip to Paso Robles to try this wine - it's worth it.
Grape Variety: Grenache
Region: Paso Robles
Food pairing: cassoulet; veal; beef; game