Provence WineZineTasteWines and Spirits of Provence

A Primer to Understanding Grenache Grapes

If you are a fan of wines from Provence or the Southern Rhône Valley, you are already intimate with Grenache Noir. You probably don’t sidle up to the bar and order a “Grenache Noir” like you would a glass of Pinot or Cab, but I assure you that, in Provence and the Southern Rhône Valley, you are drinking wines of which Grenache is a major part.

You may also know Grenache Blanc, one of its mutations, but you probably are not familiar with the third face, Grenache Gris. All three grapes can end up partially or solely responsible for red, white, orange or rosé wines that are still sparkling, sweet or fortified. Continue reading here for a deep dive into the three faces of Grenache.

Grenache in Provence

Despite the reference to black in its name, Grenache Noir is a popular red grape for wine blends. Close to 90,000 hectares of this varietal are planted in France’s South (Provence and l’Occitanie). This grape plays nicely with others as a good blending partner. Whether you prefer Provencal rosés or red blends from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, there is likely some Grenache in your glass.

The wines of Provence and the Southern Rhone are typically created using assemblage techniques where varietals are fermented separately and only then blended under the scrutiny of master winemakers. This winemaking methodology allows the vintner more flexibility in years where one grape type’s growth and sugar production might be better (or worse) than another varietal. More about the three colours of wine in Provence.

Like some rest of us, Grenache enjoys the climate in Provence. Hot summer days, cool nights, a touch of moisture followed by the wind to dry off the leaves, the vines seem to thrive in this southern climate.

Food Pairing with Grenache Blends

The wonderful thing about wine blends from Provence and the Southern Rhône Valley is they make delicious partners at the table. You need to be careful with spicy food, heavy cream dishes and citrus, as these recipes are trickier to pair with food. However, David at Cocoa and Lavender seems to have the right culinary touch. Enjoy his recipes below.

Spiced Duck with Blackberry-Balsamic Reduction
The duck breasts are cooked at the last minute and served rare or medium-rare. Make the blackberry-balsamic reduction sauce in advance and reheat when you are ready to serve.
Check out this recipe
Spiced Duck Breasts Blackberry-Balsamic Sauce
Grilled Lamb Kebabs
Easy to prepare, but allow enough time to marinate before cooking.
Check out this recipe
Grilled Lamb Kebabs
Porcini-Rubbed Steak Mixed Grill BBQ
Recipe adapted from the from Mozza cookbook.
Check out this recipe
Porcini-Rubbed Steak mixed grill
Veal Cordon Bleu 
This recipe is easy to prepare as long as you have the ingredients ready for the dipping stage. Serve with sides of your choice.
Check out this recipe
Veal Cordon Bleu Recipe
Pork Tenderloin en Croûte with Porcini Demiglace
Although there are a few steps to this recipe, it's a terrific "Sunday" kitchen project with a wonderfully delicious finish. If you are short on time, see the notes below.
Check out this recipe
Pork Tenderloin Porcini Demiglace

Rhône-Style Wine in California

Producing only Rhône-style white and rosé wines, Acquiesce Winery is a maverick in Lodi, California. The appellation is known for its concentration of Zinfandel red wines. The San Francisco Chronicle included the Acquiesce Winery tasting room among its list of 52 vineyards to visit in 2020.

Embarking on the path of professional winemaking, they began replacing Zinfandel vines with Grenache and Grenache Blanc grapes in 2008. Viognier, Roussanne, and Picpoul Blanc varietals plantings followed the next year. In January 2012, the re-envisioned barn opened to the public as the Acquiesce Winery tasting room. The remaining Zinfandel vines were removed in 2015, making way for additional Rhône Valley varietals, including Clairette Blanche and Bourboulenc.

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Susan Newman Manfull

Susan Newman Manfull

It was love at first sight when my family and I arrived in the charming village of Lourmarin for a short vacation, nearly 20 years ago. We returned home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the next thing I knew, we were planning a much longer sojourn in that village and making arrangements to enroll our daughter in the local school there. That led to buying a maison de village— actually two, then a courtyard, a parking spot, and a bergerie— in our favourite Provençal village where we (readily) adopted that certain joie de vivre, established dear friendships, and, to this day, endeavour to blend in with the crowd at Café Gaby.

We no longer own property in Lourmarin, but we continue to hang our hats there frequently and gather fodder for our souls and The Modern Trobaors and Provence WineZine. There is never a shortage.

The Modern Trobadors, conceived in 2008, is about all things Provence: its markets, hilltop villages, lavender, art, literature, culture, history, food, wine, and news. Provence WineZine, launched in August 2014, focuses on wines from Provence and the Southern Rhône Valley regions—with a special emphasis on Provence's world-renowned rosés—and the men and women who make them.

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