Grenache 2013 Is In

Grenache is a hearty variety, an early budding variety that is also a late ripener. Grenache needs lots of sun and a long growing season to ripen fully, which is important if one desires to make fuller bodied, well structured and well colored wines from the variety. This is why it is found ranging from the Mediterranean littoral (Spain, Southern France, Sardinia), to Australia and California. It is a chief blending grape in Rioja and the southern Rhone, a star in Priorat, a staple in Australia, and a rising star in California. It is the key grape in the excellent vin doux natural wines Banyuls and Maury in Rousillon and Languedoc respectively, as well as a principal ingredient in the table wine blends in these two AOC regions of France. The second most widely planted variety in the world, Grenache plantation world wide exceeds 500,000 acres. Here at L’Aventure, we have 4.3 in the ground!

As our 2013 Grenache was moving along the sorting table, one got a clear idea as to just how da*n hot this 2013 growing season has been. Among the beautiful, perfectly shaped clusters passing by, many others- estimated at 12% to 15% of the pick- showed signs of excessive dehydration, and had to be dropped at sorting. An already small crop (roughly 2.5 tons per acre) just got smaller! Dave remarked that most of these were from our “old vine” blocks. These dehydrated clusters were very tight, and also contained unripe berries, indication that trellising and canopy management might be reviewed for next year. In contrast, the newer plantation vines, planted to different clones, had more open canopies, looser clusters, and ripened more evenly. This being the case within the same vineyard sight. Given the extreme heat of the vintage (some 30 days over 100 degrees so far!), the wines will display terrific color, while being a bit lower in alcohol than is the norm, the heat driving the Grenache to the winery earlier than normal this year. The very best of this year’s crop will be reserved, and co- fermented with Stephan’s top syrah to make Cuvee Chloe 2013. The rest will find it’s way into Cote a Cote and Sibling, as blending is determined March following vintage. Guillaume sees the crop as “Beautiful!”