Fresh, Fruity, Ageworthy or Deep, Grenache Is a West Coast Chameleon

Pouring red wine into a wineglass
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Grenache is known for producing iconic red wines in France’s Southern Rhône. But this red grape has gained popularity across the ocean in California, Oregon and Washington. And while Grenache originally came to the West Coast to be used in blends or in jug wines, it has since been appreciated in its own right. And has even become a favorite among West Coast producers.

Today, you can find Grenaches from this region that run the gamut of ageworthy to light and fruity glou-glou.

Here are 10 West Coast Grenaches to try.

In Santa Clara Valley, 111-Year-Old Vines Lie Just Beyond the Outlet Malls

Birichino 2019 Besson Vineyard Old Vines Grenache (Central Coast); $28, 95 points. The winery’s study of this 110-year-old, dry farmed vineyard keeps getting better each vintage. Aromas of fresh red currant and raspberry are lifted by chaparral, gravel and turned earth on the nose. There’s an herbal grip to the palate, as a rocky structure frames red-currant, crumpled carnation and rose-petal-tea flavors. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann

A Tribute to Grace 2018 Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard Grenache (Santa Barbara County); $45, 95 points. Angela Osborne’s light hand brings forth the high-desert intrigue of this vineyard in the Cuyama Valley. Very light in color, the wine carries aromas of iron and hardpan into waves of subtle cherry, rose and chaparral. Those wild, sage-like herbs float through the red-currant flashes of the fascinating palate, finishing on an herbal-tea note. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.

Benovia 2018 Grenache (Sonoma Mountain); $45, 94 points. This 100% varietal wine is fruity and earthy in equal measure, with balance and complexity at its core. Lavender, sage, dried herb and white pepper adorn a smooth, inviting midpalate of strawberry and blackberry that delve into a hint of game and garrigue. —Virginie Boone

Piazza Family 2019 Bella Vista Vineyard Grenache (Ballard Canyon); $38, 94 points. This fresh and zesty bottling defines West Coast glou-glou, starting with aromas of crushed rocks, cola spice, cherry and hibiscus. The stony minerality invades the palate, giving depth to the tart cranberry, dried oregano and white-pepper flavors that sail down the gullet. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.

Two Vintners 2018 Grenache (Columbia Valley); $25, 93 points. Fruit for this wine comes from top sites Olsen, Boushey and Monette’s. The aromas draw you into the glass, with notes of orange zest, white pepper, flowers, raspberry and wet gravel as well as a kiss of smoke. The fruit flavors are juicy, showing a whole lot of intensity and depth along with absolutely dazzling purity. It’s a knockout at a double-take price. Editors’ Choice. —Sean P. Sullivan

Analemma 2018 Grenache (Columbia Gorge); $42, 92 points. This small producer is pushing the envelope with a portfolio of unique estate-grown wines from one of Oregon’s smallest AVAs. Grenache has been planted in the Columbia Gorge for half a century, and here is a wine that finds a unique and defining flavor for this unique terroir. It’s elegant and yet powerful, with transparent cranberry and cherry fruit along with interesting streaks of compost and peat moss. The biodynamic grapes keep pushing on through a long finish, adding nuances of earth and truffle and cinnamon. It was aged for 15 months in concrete egg and neutral oak. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt

Cavaletti 2018 The 109 Mile Grenache (Los Angeles County); $38, 92 points. An ambitious project tying disparate Los Angeles County vineyards into one bottling, this wine, which includes 4% Mourvèdre, begins with aromas of salted meats, pomegranate paste, roasted strawberry and light smoke. The palate packs the variety’s typical red-fruit and gingerbread-spice flavors with hints of caramel and more smoke, lingering deep into the finish. Editors’ Choice. —M.K.

Gramercy 2018 Third Man Grenache (Columbia Valley); $36, 92 points. Though variety labeled, this wine includes 15% Syrah and 10% Mourvèdre, and they all play big parts in this standing-room-only show. The aromas are expressive, with notes of violet, black pepper, wet stone, dark raspberry and fresh herbs. The palate is elegant and flavorful, with captivating purity. It’s outrageously delicious. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.

Thirty-Seven 2018 Grenache (Petaluma Gap); $26, 92 points. Entirely varietal, this wine is fresh in acidity while maintaining a fuller, fleshier body of volume and weight. Rich red cherry and strawberry are seasoned in white pepper, nutmeg and a touch of forest floor, finishing densely in a touch of oak. —V.B.

XOBC 2018 Elijah Grenache (Walla Walla Valley); $40, 91 points. This wine from music star Brandi Carlile is all Rocks District fruit, vinified by Sean Boyd (Rôtie Cellars). The aromas dazzle, with notes of peat, Satsuma orange rind, flowers, granite, peat, cigar box and strawberry. It’s has a transparent, juicy style, reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. —S.S.

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Published on August 11, 2021
Topics: Grenache