Oldest vines thrive here
They produce Grenache wines of complexity
The Grenache varietal is thought to have originated in Spain, where the hot dry climate is ideal.
PARADOXICAL it may be but, despite Australia being a “New World” wine producer, we are also home to some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world!
While European vineyards suffered at the hands of the sap-sucking Phylloxera louse, wiping out their rootstock and vineyards in the late 1800s, the tyranny of distance safeguarded Australian viticulturists from the same fate. As a result, winemakers like Barossarian Marco Cirillo can boast that, at Cirillo, they possibly have the oldest and longest-producing grenache vines on the planet.
It could be plain Steven Bradbury style luck, but there is no doubt that old vines, like the Cirillo grenache planted in around 1848, produce Grenache wines of complexity, boldness of fruit and a sweet, lingering finale.
The younger Grenache vines that have been planted around the world post-phylloxera struggle to replicate the depth and balance of these older vines and are sometimes dominated by unpalatable front forward tannins, astringent herbaceousness and youthful acids.
The Grenache varietal is thought to have originated in Spain, where the hot dry climate is ideal for grenache growth and berry development. Not surprisingly, those hot conditions are replicated in large parts of Australia, where the late ripening of the style is easily accommodated. And where better to grow a grape that needs those conditions to prosper than South Australia’s Barossa Valley. In that district, winemakers are generally prepared to make single varietal Grenache wines without the blending that is commonplace in Spanish Rioja, or the French version of our GSM ( Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre), Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
While producers like Marco Cirillo receive international acclaim for their old vine Grenache, there are plenty of smaller and lesser-known winemakers who are making grenache-based wines that would be the envy of almost every old-world vintner.
Deisen Autumn Song Grenache
One of my favourites is the Deisen Autumn Song Grenache. It’s made by a slightly eccentric, reclusive winemaker, Sabine Deisen, and is a striking example of the style. Like its maker, there is a wild earthiness up front, but a sweet ripeness that follows. I love the strawberry and raspberry flavours which develop across the palate and are ably supported by modest tannins on the back end. It’s luscious, high in alcohol (at 15.4%), and will have you topping up your glass before the bottom of the glass is in sight. You won’t find it in any local bottle shop but, if you’re patient, it’s worth the wait in ordering from Sabine’s website www.deisen.com.au.
So if you like to pair red wines with red meat dishes, consider an Aussie Grenache; and if pink wines are your thing, there’s none better than a rose made on the Grenache grape.