Why I love Grenache and GSM Wines

Confession:  I’m not a Cab drinker.  I find that most Cabernet Sauvignon has too much tannin for me, and I much prefer a fruitier, jammier red.  I’ve always liked Pinot Noir more than Cab (even before Sideways!), and also really enjoy Shiraz (Syrah) and other lighter reds.  I think Grenache is really underappreciated.  You may know Grenache from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, or it may be in another  Cotes de Rhone.  By the way, Cotes de Rhone is my favorite wine for an oven roasted pot roast or short ribs – learned that from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa!

A few years ago, I had my first GSM – a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  I wasn’t sure why I liked it so much, but it is “easy drinking”, and goes with a lot of different foods.  They aren’t usually too expensive, either.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about GSM:

Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes, producing a pale red juice with soft berry scents and a bit of spiciness. As a blending component, it contributes alcohol, warmth and fruitiness without added tannins. Shiraz can contribute full-bodied, fleshy flavors of black fruits and pepper. It adds color, backbone and tannins and provides the sense of balance such blends require. Mourvèdre contributes elegance, structure and acidity to the blend, producing flavors of sweet plums, roasted game and hints of tobacco.

There are always several Chateauneuf-du-Papes on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of the year, so odds are you’ve tasted something like GSM or had a Grenache-heavy blend before.  Robert Parker has been considered for an honorary citizenship of the village (of Chateauneuf), for having promoted CDP in the US.  See this article today on Snooth about Grenache.

Aside from France, Australia is big on GSM, but you can get very good bottles from California too, like this 4-grape blend from Tablas Creek.  Or, see if you can find J. Lohr Gesture GSM 2008.


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