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Howard Duncan
15 September 2017 | Howard Duncan

This week at Artisans of Barossa - Grenache Day!

This week at Artisans...

Today is International Grenache Day. Truth be known, I've always considered the idea of an international day dedicated to a grape variety a bit frivolous, especially in light of other "International Days of..." that aim to raise awareness of issues of greater substance than 'what wine should I drink today.' But I suppose everyone and everything (and inevitably every grape variety) is entitled to their moment in the sun.

Barossa Shiraz did well surviving the madness of the Government's vine pull scheme back in the 1980's. And just 10 years on from growers being paid a 'bounty' to pull old Shiraz vines out of the ground, the region's flagship variety had gone from the chopping block to prized fighter status earning big dollars for growers and winemakers alike. Grenache took a pounding in the 1980's...and then came back for more of the same over the next 10 years or so as it failed to find favour with winemakers or wine drinkers. But as the Barossa grower community had shown true grit and true faith in the old Shiraz vineyards during the dark days of the vine pull, they again protected and preserved the very best of the region's Grenache vineyards in the following two decades.  Resisting temptation to follow fashion and make a quick buck by eradicating old vine Grenache in favour of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, the Barossa's grape growers showed  they know best when it comes to what grows in their vine 'gardens'.

Grenache is a consistent theme that runs through the past, present and future stories of each of our six Artisan winemakers, and in 2017 we'll launch the Grenache Project...six Grenache wines, made by six winemakers from the same old Grenache vineyard at Penrice in the Angaston foothills. This spot is good Barossa dirt for Grenache. Brown loamy sands over sub soil quartz help regulate the temperature of the root structure, and gully breezes at night cool the canopy. The sloping free draining site helps keep yields low, producing berries packed with flavour.  Our winemakers were let off the leash and given free reign - when to pick it and how to make it in a back to the basics exercise.  Each winemaker unshackled from their current journey and existing identity and given a simple brief....'make a Grenache you'd like to drink.' The Grenache Project is our first effort at making wine together, and the pure, bright and athletic vibrancy of the variety is the perfect canvas upon which our Artisans can individually express themselves.


The six wines will be bottled next month and released exclusively as a  pack of six different wines from six different winemakers later this year. From the same source, transformed by six winemakers into varied expressions of Grenache, and then reunited in one case of six different wines. If you love your Grenache, or feel the need to take a Grenache discovery tour, then reply to this email and I'll get Simon our Club Manager to put one aside for you. For $250, we'll ship a six pack anywhere in Australia before Christmas. Get in quick!

It took Shiraz around 150 - 160 years to emerge as the hero of the Barossa. Grenache was a little slower, but it now sits comfortably alongside as another example of the extraordinary capability of this region to produce outstanding quality wine from so many different grape varieties. Sometimes good things take time....a lot of time. Case in point is the Schrapel family of Bethany Wines whose 80 year old Grenache vineyards created a wine awarded three trophies including Best Wine in Show at the Barossa wine show this week. Patience and perseverance personified, and rightfully rewarded. We'll raise a glass of Grenache in honour of Jeff and Rob Schrapel and winemaker Alex McLelland this week at Artisans.


Howard at Artisans


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