The Year of Greanche
2017 has been an amazing year for Grenache. Often overlooked in favour of its more widely planted friend Shiraz, Grenache has been somewhat of a winemakers favourite without attracting as much public recognition. Boy did that change in 2017, with our Barossa friends Turkey Flat taking out the Jimmy Watson Trophy for Best Wine at the Melbourne Wine Show (for their 2016 Grenache), and a Grenache also winning wine of show at the Barossa and McLaren Vale wine shows.
We’ve also been spreading the word internationally, presenting at a Wine Australia led panel in Boston where the trade enjoyed a masterclass of 16 different Grenache expressions. The wines were a revelation for many in the room.
Grenache Masterclass in Boston. The ’15 Annexus Grenache was in good company.
Here at our home, the Barossa, the Grenache story has many chapters. The original Grenache vines, some planed as early as 1848, were at first in high demand for fortified wines. With steady demand and high suitability to our warm climate requiring little water, Grenache shone for many years. When taste preferences started shifting away from sweet fortifieds to table wine, the Barossa was very fortunate to have an amazing array of old vineyards to draw on. However, horrifically in the 1980’s many of these historic vineyards were removed as part of the SA government’s vine pull scheme.
Today Grenache is often blended with Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvedre) to highlight the wonderful lifted aromatics and textural qualities of Grenache, the mid-palate richness of Shiraz and the savoury structure of Mataro. We love working with these varieties – so much so that the first wine John released post Penfolds was this celebrated blend: the 2003 Plexus.
A Star is Born – Annexus Grenache
Despite our love for blended Grenache wines, when a special site and favourable vintage conditions combine we can’t resist highlighting Grenache in all its glory. And so in 2013 the Annexus Grenache was born, when for the first time we got access to an ancient Grenache vineyard planted in 1858 (one of the oldest Grenache vineyards in the world).
The first two releases of Annexus Grenache sold out in quick time and received some amazing reviews. We think Mike Bennie of the WineFront summed up the 2015 release perfectly:
“Power, grace, finesse, flavour, tannin-structure, deliciousness, drinkability. Couldn’t ask for more. This is as elegant and seamless a grenache I have seen from Australia. Fine web of tannin gives additional succulence to cool, even, medium weight red fruit and spice flavours. Epic in length, total restraint, pure-feeling and energetic. It’s beautiful wine here. Utterly.” 95+ Pts
The Gourmet Traveler Wine panel loved the 2015 Annexus. 95 pts and equal top of their Grenache tasting.
Artisans of Barossa Grenache Project
As you may be aware, we are proud members of the Artisans of Barossa collective (along with Spinifex, Schwarz Wine Company, Sons of Eden, Massena and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges). Many of you would have visited our tasting room and enjoyed the fantastic food program hosted by Harvest Kitchen.
The 2017 vintage was a turning point for Artisans – we decided to make a wine together under the Artisans of Barossa label. Of course, in the “Year of Greanche” what other variety could we choose…. However, rather than making one grenache wine collectively, we’ve gone down a different path. The guys at Sons of Eden earmarked a special Grenache vineyard and each Artisan got allocated two rows of pristine fruit. Co-incidentally we all ended up picking on the same day, but the final wines are all very unique. Our own “Duval” version has about 20% whole bunches, saw 7 months in an old hogshead and is bursting with flavour. The other Artisans have used a variety of techniques and vessels including ceramic eggs, some 100% whole bunching, carbonic maceration etc etc. Its been a very exciting and fun project – just like the wines.
We are selling the wines as a 6 pack only – one of each wine – for $250. If you’re interested, head over to the Artisans of Barossa Website – or give them a call on 08 8563 3935.
2016 Mataro. 115 year old vines. Sandy soils in Light Pass, Coming March 2018.