What's in a grape? Everything, of course, when it comes to wine. What's to distinguish a Cabernet Sauvignon from a Merlot, or Malbec, or a Carmenere? No doubt the "terroir" (the interplay between soil composition, sunlight, temperature, position of vines) is critical to the quality of the wine but the variety of the particular grape should guide a buyer in making their selection. What to expect from a wine and how can a certain grape in that wine meet those expectations.

Let's select one grape, one that is cultivated extensively in the southwest of France and in the Rhone Valley a bit to the east of Langduedoc Roussillon- the grand Grenache noir. Grenache is often part of a trinity of grapes that are blended, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre . As a stand alone, this venerable grape is especially valued and makes for a range of stunning wines.

Grenache (known as garanacha in northern Spain) is the sole grape in making the wine of kings, popes and princes, Chateauneuf du Pape. It is also used in Cote du Rhone Village. Grenache is difficult to grow and challenging to make into wine, but when produced in a quality vineyard,Oo la la! Quel vin! Fine Grenache wines have an unmistakable purity and richness, with an aroma of cherry preserves. Not particularly high in tannins, it offers the drinker a sappy, luxurious texture.

So let Palate introduce you to some of our exciting Grenache wines. Enjoy a glass of Hecht & Bannier 2013 Minervois ($21), a delicious Grenache blend which has beautiful ripe, black fruit aromas followed by a hint of a smokey expression. 

Or select a bottle of our Plan de Dieu Cote du Rhone Villages 2012 ($15), an expressive Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blend with a concentrated bouquet rich in cherry fruit and notes of spice, liquorice.

A new wine to Palate is our Domaine de Varquiere Rasteau ($20) from the village of Rasteau where the Chamfort family has been producing these wines for three generations. 70 percent Grenache this wine offers a deep ruby color oth a nose disclosing truffles and quince. Powerful on the palate, with a lingering finish this is a wine not to miss.

So come in and get aquatinted with Grenache and you will leave a happier dabbler in wine.