Pure Grenache.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grenache is the third most common grape in France (behind Merlot and Carignan). While many wine drinkers are unfamiliar with it by name, it is a key element of the great wines of the Southern Rhône, where it is blended with Syrah, Mourvèdre, and many other grapes.

It’s unusual to find Grenache in pure form. (Chemically, it’s more stable and less likely to oxidize when blended with something like Syrah.) But Pierre Jéquier and Blandine Chauchat of the Mas Foulaquier in Pic-St-Loup offer a delicious example.

“Petit Duc” is all grenache, Foulaquier’s only single varietal wine. It’s named for the little owl that lives in the stone walls of their farmhouse. Grown in nearby limestone, the often hearty and rough grape here takes on delicacy and finesse.

In the glass the Petit Duc is a remarkable wine, and particularly interesting to those (most of us) who seldom see pure grenache. The aromas are of bright, sweet cherry pie, with stony mineral notes. The mouth is richer than the nose would suggest, but carries an unexpected elegance. We’ve paired this wine with duck breast and with a Mediterranean pasta sauce, and both matched well.


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