Grenache is the least visible of the noble red grape varieties. It goes by many aliases, such as garnacha in Spain (its country of origin) and cannonau in Sardinia. It forms the backbone of such classic blends as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorat and Australian GSM, where the grape labors in anonymity, its name never appearing on the label. Highly versatile in style—ranging from rosé to juicy quaffing-style reds to intense, concentrated blockbusters—it always provides ample berry fruit flavors and aromatic spice, but with moderate tannins and acids. These three are flat-out delicious.
Joel Gott “Alakai” Grenache, Monterey, 2013
This Central Coast wine is a quintessential medium-bodied California grenache, with a soft texture, ripe blueberry and wild raspberry up front and a distinctive peppery finish. Its sleek, balanced flavors also include cinnamon and milder baking spices, as well as hints of earthy mushroom. It’s great with any grilled fish or chicken dish, and you can drink it a bit cooler than your average red.
$18, Busa Wine & Spirits, Burlington
Alto Moncayo, Campo de Borja, 2013
Unusually deep in color for garnacha, it has an alluring perfume of exotic spice, black cherry, boysenberry and smoke. Harvested from low-yielding old vines planted between 1920 and 1950 on infertile clay, iron and red slate soils, this is another gem uncovered by the brilliant importer Jorge Ordonez. It’s among the most velvety-textured wines I’ve tasted this year, and it’s ultra-polished from two years of aging in new oak barrels.
$47, Wegmans, Chestnut Hill
Pala Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, 2013
Hailing from a family-owned organic winery in Sardinia, this is a savory expression of the grape, with prominent barbecued meat and dried herb notes. A bit on the rustic side, its deep, concentrated dark red fruit flavors burst on the palate with pepper, sage and tobacco accents. Enjoy this with anything bold and hearty such as ribs, sausages and piquant fish stews.
$25, Brix Wine Shop, Boston
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.