Exceptional Lloyd Brothers Grenache

Exceptional Lloyd Brothers Grenache

Wine Tasting at Lloyd Brothers Winery

Grenache may be one of the most widely planted grape varietals in the world, but here in Australia, it sits rather low down in the pecking order in what is likely fifth position, behind Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. And for the life of me, I don’t know why we don’t make more of it in our warmer wine producing regions given how consumer friendly and marketable it really is.

As a style, Grenache really needs hot and dry conditions to do best; perhaps the reason why it is so popular in Spain, southern France and Sardinia in Italy. Lacking acid and tannin, it isn’t a varietal that is well suited to long term cellaring, but given that the vast majority of wine bought in Australia is consumed within 24 hours of purchase, does it really matter? When it comes to iconic wines, it’s normally the “collectable” wines that possess the ability to withstand years lying on their side in a cool dark room that collect the industry accolades. And I get that – we want to bring out the pièce de resistance with all the aplomb and ceremony of a royal family newborn heir, when we dust off the special aged bottle that had been hoarded at the back of the cellar for decades. So, it’s Shiraz, Cabernet, Riesling and even Chardonnay that take the acclaim as our most collectable Aussie wines.

But Grenache is a style that is growing in popularity – especially in blends of GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre) and rosé wines. According to Wine Australia, the increase in demand had seen the average price of Grenache grapes rise from $577 per tonne in 2014 to $986 per tonne in 2019. In the McLaren Vale, the average value of Grenache grapes actually surpassed Shiraz for the first time in 2020!

Given that Grenache really needs higher temperatures and low rainfall, it makes sense that the McLaren Vale lights up the heat map of Australian plantings of the style. The region has a low summer rainfall (only 226 mm in the growing season) and a mean January temperature of 21.3 degrees. The cooling breezes of the southern Indian Ocean create a Mediterranean – like climate; conditions which are near perfect for Grenache.

While there are plenty of exceptional producers in the McLaren Vale, it was a boutique operation called “Lloyd Brothers” whose GSM blend recently caught my proverbial fancy. Siblings, David & Matthew Lloyd are the custodians of vineyards from the McLaren Vale to the Adelaide Hills and even nurture South Australia’s first commercially planted Kalamata olive grove. But it’s their Grenache bush vines located adjacent to the McLaren Vale winery that are responsible for the plump and spicy GSM blend that wowed my wine snob friends at a recent tasting. The 2021 McLaren Vale Estate GSM is made from 65% Grenache, 30% Shiraz from their Block 9 and Manor Blocks – and a touch (5%) of bush vine Mourvèdre (mataro).

The Lloyd Brothers team suggest that the wine might do well over the next eight plus years, but to my palate, it’s a drop that is as good as it will get right now. GSM blends are well known to show a “brickish” colour around the edges of the glass; while the Lloyd Brothers’ version wasn’t exactly bright, the deep purple hues still gave the appearance of youthful liveliness. Swish, swirl and sip and raspberries, redcurrant and strawberries arrive before waves of chocolate surf on the front palate just moments before hints of cherry, coffee bean, olive and vanilla appear through the middle. It’s hard not to salivate as the luxurious red fruits meld with clove and mulberries before the sweet red berries reappear on the slightly savoury conclusion.

If you’re a fan of red wines with lively fruit and flavour, rather than complexity, structure and tannin, this is likely the style for you. At $32 a bottle at cellar door, it’s terrific value – even if it isn’t a bottle that you’ll be presenting at the dinner table covered in dust in 20 years’ time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *