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Posts tagged ‘Grenache Blanc’

Grenache Blanc GrapeGrenache Blanc is a relatively new arrival into the Tablas Creek Vineyard pantheon of grapes. It produces rich, full wines with bright flavors and crisp acidity and is a key element in both our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc and Cotes de Tablas Blanc. As the name suggests, Grenache Blanc is related to the more widely known Grenache Noir. Many grape varietals have both red and white variants; the best known is Pinot, which has Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris variations. Grenache Blanc, like Grenache Noir, is drought-resistant, vigorous, easy to graft and ripens fairly early in the cycle. Since we brought Grenache Blanc into our nursery, we have sold budwood and grafted vines to a number of other Rhône-producing vineyards in California. The California climate of hot days and cool nights seems to be perfect for the varietal and encourages its two prime qualities: richness with crisp acids.

Early History

Grenache Blanc originated in Spain, and still plays a role in the wines of Rioja and Navarre. From Spain, it spread to France, and has thrived in the vineyards of the Rhône valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is the fourth most commonly planted white grape varietal in France, comprising over 37,000 acres in Roussillon alone. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the crisp acidity of Grenache Blanc is used to balance the honeyed richness of Roussanne, and white Château de Beaucastel is roughly 80% Roussanne and 20% Grenache Blanc.

Grenache Blanc at Tablas Creek

We imported cuttings of Grenache Blanc from Beaucastel in 1992, and the vines spent three years in quarantine at the USDA station in Geneva, New York. In 1995, the cuttings were declared virus free and released to Tablas Creek Vineyard. These vines were received into our nursery and the first grafted vines went into the ground in 1996. The first significant harvest of the varietal was 1999. For the next three years (up to and including the 2001 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc), we could only refer to the varietal as Grenache on our label because Grenache Blanc was not yet recognized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Not surprisingly, many people found this nomenclature confusing and we were regularly asked why we added a red varietal into our white blend; in 2002 we petitioned the BATF to recognize Grenache Blanc as a separate varietal.

Grenache Blanc at the BATF

We went through the varietal approval process with Counoise in 2000, so we knew what we had to do. We compiled literature on Grenache Blanc to show that it was a recognized varietal in other countries, and we compiled descriptions of its characteristics to show that it had positive value as a wine grape in the United States. In February 2003, our petition was provisionally approved (pending an open review process that could take 18 months). You can see Grenache Blanc on the front labels of ourEsprit de Beaucastel Blanc and the Côtes de Tablas Blanc, as well our single-varietal Grenache Blanc, which debuted to national release with the 2004 vintage.

Aromas and Flavors

Grenache Blanc is straw-colored and produces wines that are high in alcohol, with crisp acids. The nose has bright green apple and mandarin orange aromas, with clean flavors of more green apples, mineral and a touch of peach. It has a long, lingering finish. Although it can stand confidently on its own, its crispness and long finish make it a tremendous blending component. The crispness of Grenache Blanc shows well at low temperatures, whereas many white Rhône varietals (particularly Roussanne and Marsanne) shut down when served too cold. In our Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc, the Grenache Blanc allows the wine to show well, even highly chilled (as many restaurants often serve all white wines). As the wine warms up in the glass, the other varietals unfold, and the full richness of the wine is displayed. If you’re interested in Grenache Blanc, we bottled small lots of 100% Grenache Blanc in both the 2002 and 2003 vintages for our Wine Club members. These wines were distributed as parts of the annual spring shipment. We planned a limited national release of our 2004 Grenache Blanc which has been very successful, debuting it in about a dozen states starting in late 2005.

Source: http://www.tablascreek.com/grenachebl.html

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