For the fourth year running, an international day of celebration is being held to honor the world's most widely planted red grape.
The September 20 event, which kicks off in the U.S. at midnight Thursday PDT, is being organized by the Grenache Association, which calls the "groovy" grape an unsung hero. The association claims that grenache rarely gets the credit it deserves because it's frequently used in blends.
Executive director Marlene Angelloz points out that "every time you enjoy a glass of Côtes-du-Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, most rosés, garnacha, or cannonau, you became an honorary member of the international grenachistas – fans of grenache!"
The association concedes that 2013 has been a challenging year for grenache vines in many parts of Europe, which were affected by a bout of cold weather in the spring. It "affected the ability of the grape flowers to set, provoking unusual amounts of coulure."
According to the association, there are already references to this year’s production as "black gold," due to its scarcity but potential quality.
Participants in this year's Grenache Day celebrations are being urged to raise a toast in solidarity with the producers who lost part of their crop.
In the U.S., participants will include California's Rhone Rangers, who are holding tastings of grenache and grenache-based wines from 30 wineries. In London, Bar Boulud's David Vareille will open a vertical of Methuselahs from Domaine de la Roquette in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
In the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation of Seguret, local producers are combining their efforts to present a selection of top grenache wines. Domaine de Mourchon's Walter McKinlay, co-founder of the Grenache Association, said: "It's such a pleasure to see winemakers joining forces instead of competing with each other."
More details of Grenache Day events across the world are available on Twitter – #GrenacheDay – on the relevant Facebook page, and at the grenacheday.com website.
For those planning to take part, we've produced a list of the top 10 "most points per dollar" grenache-based wines offered on Wine-Searcher, priced from $15 to $35. All of the wines on the list provide at least 8.7 critics' points per dollar. Spanish wines dominate the list, joined by a vin gris from Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon, an Italian grenache (cannonau) from the island of Sardinia, and an example from Australia's Barossa Valley.
No. 1. 2010 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain (90/100)
No. 2. 2011 Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria, Campo de Borja, Spain (90/100)
No. 3. 2011 Zerran Tinto, Montsant, Spain (89/100)
No. 4. 2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare Rosé, California (89/100)
No. 5. 2009 Cantine Argiolas Costera Cannonau, Sardinia, Italy (89/100)
No. 6. 2009 Las Rocas Vinas Viejas de San Alejandro Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain (88/100)
No. 7. 2009 Vinos Sin-Ley G5 Puerta Bonita Garnacha, Madrid, Spain (88/100)
No. 8. 2009 Bernabeleva Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha, Madrid, Spain (89/100)
No. 9. 2010 Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache, Barossa, Australia (90/100)
No. 10. 2010 Bodegas Ateca "Atteca" Old Vine Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain (87/100)