Often unfairly overlooked, Grenache is very versatile with food and a good idea no matter the season.

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Grenache is one of the unsung heroes of the wine world. From affordable and barbecue-ready bottles of Côtes du Rhône (a blend that often leans on the grape) to trophies like the Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache sings with particular range and expressiveness in France. Even when it's not the dominant variety in a blend, its cherries and garrigue-like herbal notes tend to add wonderful fruit and spice to each sip.

Garnacha is one of Spain's most widely planted red grape varieties, informing wines from Rioja to Aragon and beyond. Its presence is growing in Australia, South Africa, California, and more. Yet it's still often overshadowed by more famous grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir

Grenache Wine Bottles
Credit: Courtesy of Barsao / Belden Barns / Benovia / Kimsey

But you shouldn't ignore Grenache, because not only are its pleasures plentiful, but it's often remarkably easy on the wallet, too, considering the high quality of what's being produced. And while this particular story focuses on red Grenache, there are lots of great rosés that incorporate it, too. White Grenache (often called Grenache Blanc or Garnacha Blanca) is also well worth looking for.

Here, however, are 19 standouts reds, listed alphabetically, that are all either entirely comprised of Grenache or containing at least 75% in their blend. They're comforting in the cooler weather, energetic when temperatures turn warmer, and very versatile with food.

2018 Alma Rosa Robert William Ranch Grenache Sta. Rita Hills ($55)

Distinct aromas of oregano and garrigue on the nose, with a dash of cracked peppercorns and saline mineral notes. These set up a palate with that same sense of dried-herb savoriness, which is joined by ripe blueberries, black raspberries, and warm wild strawberries that grow on the finish.

2017 Angove Warboys Vineyard Grenache McLaren Vale, Australia ($75)

Crafted from vines that are more than half a century old, there is a real sense of propulsive energy to this Grenache, a deep undertow of red and black cherries and mountain berries, toasted caraway seeds, and dried flowers pulling it along, all finishing with a grace note of spice and wild strawberries.

2018 Belden Barns "Epiphany" Grenache Sonoma Mountain ($50)

Notably fresh, especially given its 15% ABV, this showcases aromas of black and white peppercorns, crushed cherries, and dried herbs, with a hint of grenadine before flavors of darker cherries, gently toasted vanilla pod, black raspberries, and boysenberries. Plush and powerful.

2017 Benovia Grenache Sonoma Mountain ($45)

A pure beam of cherries on the nose is delicately and sweetly spiced, and sets the stage for a vivacious and gulpable palate in which those cherries are joined by toasted fennel seeds, vanilla pod, and a touch of lavender, which finds a fascinating counterpoint in the suggestion of peppercorn-rubbed bacon.

2017 Bodegas Alto Moncayo Veraton Campo de Borja, Spain ($32)

A concentrated, savory aroma here suggests soy sauce, a primes the palate for flavors of plums, brambly berries, star anise, and a subtle earthiness. This is an excellent value, crafted from vines 30 to 50 years of age.

High Sands Grenache 2017 Bottle
Credit: Courtesy of Yangarra

2018 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha Campo de Borja, Spain ($18)

Such pure and appealing fresh red cherry aromas with just a hint of dried oregano, both teeing up a palate of freshness and concentration. Flavors of purple berries, flowers, and that beam of cherries again, but here with a touch of peppercorn spice and gobs of sweet vanilla.

2013 Broc Cassia Grenache(s) Mendocino, California ($60)

A 50/50 blend of Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir, this is maturing beautifully. It shows the funkier, earthier side of the variety, with a leather-like character to the dried cherries, plum pits, blood oranges, cracked white peppercorns, and toasty chestnuts.This has the structure to go another 5 to 7 years, but I like where it's at right now.

2018 Domaine Lafage Cuvée Nicolas Grenache IGP Côtes Catalanes, France ($16)

Bright and primary, with cherries and black raspberries preceding a palate of ripe, sweet blueberries seasoned with dried herbs and pepper. This is particularly well-suited to sweet-sauced barbecue.

Domaine Lafage grenache
Credit: Domaine Lafage, Wines of Roussillon

2017 Grounded Wine Co. Public Radio Red Wine Paso Robles ($25)

Pure cherry aromas are edged with just the slightest hint of peppercorn, and precede a palate of generosity and structure, with beautifully calibrated acidity lifting brambly berries, a hint of violets and bluebell flowers, and a finish that suggests a touch of bacon alongside mashed cherries and freshly ground sweet and savory spice in the allspice vein. 

2016 Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard Elder Hill Grenache McLaren Vale, Australia ($75)

This is in a great place right now, with a razor's-edge balance between concentration and freshness carrying flavors of blood orange, licorice, dried herbs, violets, black and red cherries, green olives, and a touch of candied orange peel. It has another decade to go, at least, but I love this already. Note: 2017 was the last vintage of this wine; the fruit is now going into the Yangarra Hickinbotham Vineyard Grenache, and the 2019 will be released later in 2021.

2016 Kimsey Grenache Ballard Canyon ($60)

Aromas of pure licorice and cherries are informed by brambly berries and distinct spice and garrigue whiffs, preceding a palate of energy and composure that bursts with brambly berries, dark cherries, oregano, black raspberries, a hint of kirsch, and spice to spare. The finish is marked by licorice, candied violets, rooibos tea, and strawberry-rhubarb compote. Small production, but well worth looking for.

2017 Poivre d'Ane "New Castle" Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France ($40)

Unexpected tomato vine aromas may surprise fans of more classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this one really comes into its own with air. The palate is seamed through with sappy cherry and distinct peppercorn flavors, as well as a blood-like note of bouillon savoriness. With rare duck breast, this will shine. Eye-opening and gulpable.

2019 Saint Cosme Little James' Basket Press Jeune Solera Vin de France ($16)

Mouthwatering, wildly food-friendly, and bursting from the glass with brambly berries, mountain berries, licorice, root beer spice, and blood orange against subtly sanguine notes of iron. This is a charming wine, and proof that solera isn't just for Sherry!

2018 Shatter Grenache Maury, France ($25)

This is big at 15.6% ABV, but there is enough pure minerality here—it's almost slate-like in character, with a nod toward gunpowder that rides along through the finish—to keep it all anchored. The fruit tends in the cherry and black raspberry direction, with grace notes of lavender and cracked peppercorn, as well, all flecked with red licorice. Powerful yet full of energy.

Fulldrawn Vineyard Chasing Widmill 2017 Bottle
Credit: Suzanne Becker Bronk

2017 TOR "Chasing Windmills" Fulldraw Vineyard Grenache Paso Robles ($80)

Aromas of kirsch-filled chocolate ganache hit with a touch of black licorice. The first sip reveals a velvet-textured palate that carries blueberries, a fistful of plums, cafe mocha, and a finish that tastes like the perfectly charred top of a crème brûlée that's been dusted with floral peppercorns just before being served. It's another big wine at 15.7% ABV.

2018 Vigne Surrau Sincaru Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, Sardinia ($27)

This is so vibrant as soon as you smell it, with raspberries, cranberries, and blood oranges kissed with sweet spice and seashore air. Sipping this reveals bright acidity and a preponderance of cranberries and fresh tarragon, as well as a touch of incense through the citrus-fruit finish.

2017 Vitkin Winery Collector's Edition Grenache Noir Sharon, Israel ($40)

This wine, blended with 7% Marselan, shows plenty of fresh cherries and red and black raspberries, all cut through with peppercorn spice  and almost salty minerality, under which pulses a deeper sense of savoriness reminiscent of bresaola. Proof of how well Grenache can do in Israel.

2018 Yalumba Samuel's Collection Bush Vine Grenache Barossa, Australia ($21)

Nice concentration to the pure cherry and red raspberry flavors that are flecked with dried oregano and finish with a note of chocolate-covered orange peel. Generous, nicely spiced, and just a delicious value for the money.

2017 Yangarra High Sands Grenache McLaren Vale, Australia ($100)

Sand-based soils cradle vines planted back in 1946, and nurture a wine of fantastic aromatic complexity: First cherries, then raspberries, then brambly berries sweep in before the spice notes hit. All of it sets the stage for a plush, elegant, layered Grenache, with mountain berries, fresh-picked cherries, and cracked floral peppercorns. This terrific wine's concentration grows as the finish lingers on: It's nothing short of regal.