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Grenache Blanc

This variety is considered to be native along the western slopes of Spain's Pyrenees Mountains, north of the Mediterranean coast of Catalonia. Although known in France as grenache blanc, to most Europeans the grape is garnacha blanca, due to its Spanish genesis. As with most wine varieties, there are many more linguistic and regional aliases.Grenache Blanc cluster color plate from Ampelographie (Victor Vermorel & Pierre Viala, 1901)

The green-skinned grenache grape isn't near as ubiquitous throughout the European wine growing empire as its tinta or noir cousin. Substantial plantings of garnacha blanca may of course be found in the Spanish districts of Alella, Navarre, Priorato, Rioja, and Tarragona. Still, this variety is also either fourth or fifth on the list of total white grape acreage planted in France. Especially important in Languedoc and Roussillon, it accounts for more than half the total white acreage there and is also a significant amount of vines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc.1

Although Livermore's Olivina Winery was producing one in 1887, Grenache Blanc history in California is limited and mostly recent. Cuttings entered the United States in 1980 through the Cornell University quarantine program in Geneva, New York. This is one of several Rhône varieties and clones gathered or imported by Tablas Creek Winery to California in the early 1990's.2

Grenache blanc fruit ripens early to mid-season and the vines are quite vigorous, somewhat drought-tolerant and take well to grafting. Unless properly managed, they tend to over-produce large crops, often leading to low acid, high alcohol wines that oxidize easily, leading to its most frequent utility as a blender. With care in both the field and the cellar, varietal bottlings of Grenache Blanc can show blossomy, floral aromas with crisp tang and rich, full flavor.

*Typical Grenache Blanc Smell and/or Flavor Elements
*Typicity depends upon individual tasting ability and experience and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions, as well as viticultural and enological techniques. This list therefore is merely suggestive and neither comprehensive nor exclusive.

Varietal Aromas/Flavors:

Processing Bouquets/Flavors:

Fruity: tangerine, Mandarin orange, green apple, peach

Malolactic: cream, butter

Floral: orange blossom

Oak: (atypical)

Herbal: dill

 

Vegetal: (atypical)

 

 

by Jim LaMar


NOTES
1. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is less than 5% of overall production in the AOC and only six grapes are permitted: Bourbolenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Roussanne, a small portion of which are often blended into the red wines. BACK

2. Tablas Creek also assembled multiple clones of red Grenache Noir, Mourvédre, Syrah, Counoise, and white Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Picpoul Blanc, and fostered them through the lengthy quarantine process to become certified virus-free. They even successfully petitioned the US Government to recognize the varieties that otherwise had no legally-approved provision for naming and labeling on American wine. This overall effort contributed greatly to the diversity of California's wine grape growing industry. BACK


RESOURCES
1. Grenache Blanc at Tablas Creek Vineyard (accessed 2018-4-13)

2. Julia Harding, Jancis Robinson and José Vouillamoz. Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours (pg 396-403) London: Allen Lane/Penguin and New York: Ecco/Harper-Collins, 2012

3. Jancis Robinson (ed), Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: London) 2006

4. Benjamin Lewin, Wine Myths and Reality, (Vendage Press: Dover, DE) 2010

5. Foundation Plant Services Grapes University of California Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (accessed 2018-4-13)

6. L. Peter Christensen, Nick K. Dokoozlian, M. Andrew Walker, James A Wolpert, et all. Wine Grape Varieties in California (University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources Publications: Oakland) 2003

7. Charles Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present (University of California Press: Berkeley) 1998

8. Steven Spurrier & Michel Dovaz, Academie du Vin, Complete Wine Course (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York) 1983


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Page created April 19, 2002; last updated April 13, 2018
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