Having long been overlooked, the potential of Grenache in Australia is so great it will “redefine the image of Australian fine wine”, according to Andrew Caillard MW.
Speaking at a masterclass on the ‘future icons’ of Australian wine in London this week, Caillard, co-founder of Langton’s auction house, spoke of the role Grenache will play in shaping Australia’s fine wine future.
“Grenache has become the flavour of the month in Australia. It’s so high in demand at the moment that there is a shortage of the grape.
“I believe Grenache will redefine the image of Australian fine wine in the future. Australia has a bounty of very old Grenache vines and producers are using this precious resource and turning it into something modern,” he said.
Masterclass co-host, wine writer Mike Bennie, agreed with Caillard that Grenache was poised for its moment in the sun in Australia.
“Australian Grenache is outperforming the market at both entry-level and in the fine wine sphere. It can make both fine wines and delicious, vibrant, everyday wines.
“While naturally high in alcohol it can be light and fine – it’s South Australia’s answer to Pinot. Grenache’s diversity of styles and its appropriateness to Australia’s warm climate is really exciting and needs to be talked about more,” Bennie said.
Ebullient McLaren Vale winemaker Chester Osborn of d’Arenberg has long believed in Grenache’s greatness in Australia.
In 2016 he told db that McLaren Vale was producing top drawer expressions of the grape.
“I think the McLaren Vale is the best place for Grenache in Australia right now. It’s so fragrant and is halfway between Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côte Rôtie in style.
“Most of it comes from old vines, some of which are over a century old and nearly all dry grown. For us it’s like Pinot Noir – the Everest challenge we’re trying to climb.
“The grape has a wonderful legacy in the McLaren Vale and I love to drink it. It taught me a lot about grape growing and getting a great expression from the soil,” he said.
“Grenache shows off the year and terroir more than any other variety that we work with. I love how sensitive it is.
“It gets its fragrance, length, tightness and minerality from the soil. It’s an amazing variety and ages really well. Old Grenaches are some of the best wines I drink,” he added.
As for the fine wine scene in Australia, Caillard said that ultimately it is consumers who will decide which wines enter the country’s fine wine pantheon.
“Australian winemakers are trying to push up their prices and create new fine wine narratives, but consumers will hold them back if their wines don’t have authenticity, authority and a purpose,” he said.
He name-checked Penfolds Grange, Henschke Hill of Grace and certain wines from Cullen, Moss Wood and Wendouree as having “established themselves as emblematic of the Australian fine wine scene”.
As for unsung heroes, Caillard believes that Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra is “the most underrated fine wine in Australia today”, and a wine that displays “astonishing attention to detail”.