Grenache develops high sugar levels when fully ripe, and produces wines that have a high alcohol level (13%-15%). At the same time, the Grenache grape has low tannins and acidity. It does not age particularly well, and can be prone to oxidation. You can tell if this has occurred by noticing an orange-brown color to the wine.
For many years, Grenache was primarily grown in the warmest parts of California’s Central Valley. It was used for generic jug and fortified wines. In the past decade, there has been significant interest in using Grenache in Rhone-style blends. Much of this production occurs in the warm Paso Robles wine region.
The Grenache grape has historically been grown in the Rhone Valley in France where it is often blended with Syrah. The Grenache greape is the major component of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the southern part of the region. It is also used for rose wines in the Rhone Valley.
Grenache probably originated in Spain where it is called “garnacha tinta” or “garnacha.” There are currently over twice as many acres in Spain as there are in France. Plantings are concentrated in Catalonia and Rioja.