I spoke previously about achieving the unattainable in producing the perfect wine. I am sure we can all agree that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect wine.’ But if we break it down – can there be a perfect textbook example of a varietal? When one learns about wine, can you be given a glass or bottle; “taste this – this is what Grenache should taste like?” Obviously it will depend on climate and terroir – but taking that into consideration; can the winemaker – aka the midwife – play the perfect hand, with minimal interference and guide the fruit to bottle and provide us with the perfect example of said varietal? Questionable… I agree but when I tasted the Fable Mountain Small Batch Grenache these were my thoughts; could this be the perfect Grenache?
Once the most planted grape varietal in the world, Grenache Noir has seen to have earned a little revival and allured the wine hipsters in locally. It was nicknamed the ‘poor man’s Pinot’ and likened to bacon in its popularity. It thrives in hot and dry conditions, so it is right at home in the drought stricken winelands of South Africa. Historically it was often used as a work horse to add flavour and alcohol to a blend, it endeavoured behind the scenes and now it has finally taken centre stage and is getting the recognition it deserves. Internationally it produces a vast array of styles and shows its terroir in the glass perhaps more than any other variety. From fruit forward medium bodied bistro wines of Côtes du Rhône, to fleshy rosés of Provence, to the trendy blockbuster reds of Priorat. It is always versatile and approachable due to its fruit forward characteristics and relatively low, supple tannins. Using fruit from old vines, a careful winemaker can make a complex, powerful wine from Grenache; one of the most celebrated being Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We don’t have the right fruit to make such intense versions of Grenache in South Africa but that isn’t saying we can’t make wines of the same quality. Generally we make a lighter, more fruit forward smashable style.
The Fable Mountain Small Batch Grenache in my mind is The goldilocks of Grenache – not too light – not too big. Just right. From old bushvines in the mountainous region of Tulbagh, this Grenache is light in colour, but not in flavour nor complexity. It shows all the red juicy fruit on the palate typical of this variety; bursts with crunchy strawberries, sour cherries and ripe raspberries, finishes with savoury spice. Smooth, fruit forward , medium bodied, good acidity, grippy texture, nervous tension and graceful tannins. It’s a vibrant wine with just enough oomph to take it seriously; the saying “an iron fist in a velvet glove” comes to mind. I wouldn’t smash it, I’d cool it slightly and take my time over it, it’s a wine which will keep me company and engage with me all evening. The perfect companion. The perfect Grenache?
Did you know?
- Grenache is responsible for some of the most delicious and expensive wine in the world?
- Most Grenache can be found in Chateauneuf du Pape yet it has Spanish roots?
- It has one of the longest growing seasons from bud to harvest. Despite budding early it is one of the last grapes to ripen; which leads to its high ABV.
- Its a very hardy grape and loves tough growing conditions
- It is highly versatile – Depending on its age, winemaking style and the region it can vary huge in flavour and intensity. It can be light in style or more full bodied and earthy. Either way it is always full of flavour.
- It loves spice – the high alcohol content helps alleviate the heat of the chilli.