Last week the world celebrated International Grenache Day, the Rhone red variety that has found a home throughout the world, reaching from France to Spain to Australia to Texas. But it isn’t the only Grenache around. Thought to be a mutation of the red Grenache variety, the history of Grenache Blanc starts in Spain (not France) likely in the northern regions around Cataluna or Navarra, near the Pyrenees Mountains where stellar selections are still produced today.
It isn’t the only place though. Throughout California Grenache Blanc thrives. With a high vigor and easy adaptability, the aromatic white effortlessly acclimates to the state’s ideal growing conditions. But, the grape needs more than just sunshine to produce a wine that has character. The inherent high alcohol and low acidity of the variety mean it must be finessed to produce quality wine.
Thankfully, Napa Valley’s Priest Ranch does just that. Situated on the eastern hill of the Vaca Mountain, bringing high elevation freshness to grapes growing in fifteen different, distinct sites. Breaking these sites into 180 vineyard blocks, Winemaker/Owner Craig Becker ensures careful supervision of the fruit, understanding that the wine is always made in the vineyard, not in the winery. Priest Ranch Grenache Blanc ($22) utilizes native yeast fermentation, with occasional lees (yeasts) stirring over a five-month aging period before the wine is bottled. This process adds texture and creamy richness to the aromatic wine. Fresh and balanced, opening with herbal and floral aromas of fennel, honeysuckle, and lemon blossom, the wine’s palate layers white peach, tangerine, lemon curd, and ripe pear on the palate. #Cheers