by Fred McMillin
for December 16, 1998


Grenache Panache


Grenache is the second most widely planted variety in the world.

It's a hot-climate vine, that does best on dry, lean hillside soils. There it can make a deliciously quaffable light red wine.

...Giles MacDonogh in Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre

The Rest of the Story

Sierra Foothills In the Sierra Foothills, winemaker Edgar Coulson has those hot hillsides and produces a "deliciously quaffable" Grenache (pictured). The grapes were grown at an elevation of 1,800 feet, and Edgar preserved the classic strawberry flavors with tender, loving care... no stems allowed in the stainless steel fermenting tanks, no wild yeasts permitted—only predictable Pasteur Red Yeast, just a hint of French oak from six-year-old barrels, and preserving the berry- intense results by avoiding filtration (clarified only with egg whites).

The Wine

1997 Grenache, El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, Coulson Winery
Grapes from the Marchini Vineyard, north of Placerville.
Alcohol Content—A vigorous 13.8%.
Acid Content—A vigorous 6.9 grams per liter.
Price—An affordable $11.
Rating—RECOMMENDED in its price range.


If this grape is the second most widely planted vine in the world, why don't you see more bottles labeled Grenache on the shelves? Answer: The variety achieved its fame chiefly in blends. The best example is Grenache-dominated Chateauneuf-du-Pape. As for California, Merlot started as a blending grape but now is a dominant varietal on its own. Perhaps you'll see more Grenache labels before long, too. I noticed the tons of Grenache crushed last year jumped 18%, 121,000 in 1997 compared to only 103,000 the previous year.

Note: For more about the Coulson Winery, see the April 29, 1998 WineDay titled "Francly Speaking".

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.



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