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Grenache Blanc

Grenache Blanc grape cluster. The green-skinned Grenache Blanc grape isn't near as ubiquitous throughout the European wine growing empire as its Noir cousin. Still, this variety is either number four or five of the total white grape acreage planted in France. Especially important in Languedoc and Roussillon, it accounts for more than half the total white acreage there and is also a significant in Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc.1 Substantial plantings of Garnacha Blanca may also be found along the western slopes of Spain's Pyrenees Mountains, in the districts of Alella, Navarre, Priorato, Rioja, and Tarragona.

Although Livermore's Olivina Winery was producing one in 1887, Grenache Blanc history in California is limited and mostly recent. It is one of several Rhône varieties and clones imported by Château Beaucastel when they partnered with their American importer to found Tablas Creek Winery in the early 1990's.2

Grenache Blanc fruit ripens early to mid-season and the vines are quite vigorous and somewhat drought-tolerant. Unless properly managed, they tend to over-produce large crops, often leading to high alcohol wines with low acid that oxidize easily. With care in both the field and the cellar, varietal bottlings of Grenache Blanc can show blossomy, floral, aromas and rich, full flavors.

*Typical Grenache Blanc Smell and/or Flavor Elements
*Typicity depends upon individual tasting ability and experience and is also affected by terroir and seasonal conditions, as well as viticultural and enological techniques. This list therefore is merely suggestive and neither comprehensive nor exclusive.

Varietal Aromas/Flavors:

Processing Bouquets/Flavors:

Fruity: tangerine, Mandarin orange, green apple, peach

Malolactic: cream, butter

Floral: orange blossom

Oak: (atypical)

Herbal: dill


Vegetal: (atypical)



by Jim LaMar

1. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is less than 5% of overall production in the AOC and only six grapes are permitted: Bourbolenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Picpoul Blanc, and Roussanne, a small portion of which are blended into the red wines. BACK

2. Tablas Creek also brought multiple clones of red Grenache Noir, Mourvédre, Syrah, Counoise, and white Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and Picpoul Blanc, and fostered them through the lengthy process to become certified virus-free. They even successfully petitioned the US Government to recognize a couple of these varieties that otherwise had no provision for naming and labeling on American wine. This overall effort contributed greatly to the diversity of California's wine grape growing industry. BACK

1. Grenache Blanc at Tablas Creek

2. Jancis Robinson (ed), Oxford Companion to Wine, 3rd Edition, (Oxford University Press: London) 2006

3. Benjamin Lewin, Wine Myths and Reality, (Vendage Press: Dover, DE) 2010

4. L. Peter Christensen, Nick K. Dokoozlian, M. Andrew Walker, James A Wolpert, et all. Wine Grape Varieties in California (University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources Publications: Oakland) 2003

5. Charles Sullivan, A Companion to California Wine: An Encyclopedia of Wine and Winemaking from the Mission Period to the Present (University of California Press: Berkeley) 1998

6. Steven Spurrier & Michel Dovaz, Academie du Vin, Complete Wine Course (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York) 1983

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Page created April 19, 2002; last updated July 1, 2015
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