Close Menu

Symposium sets out future for Grenache

The first ever International Grenache Symposium culminated with a clearly defined blueprint for raising the profile of this ubiquitous but unsung hero of the wine world.

250 delegates from 23 countries gathered at La Verrière in the variety’s southern Rhóne heartland at the weekend for a plethora of presentations and tastings designed to pinpoint the strengths of the world’s fourth most widely-planted grape variety.

Co-chairs Steven Spurrier and Michel Bettane introduced a series of seven panels, each made up from an international field of experts who identified the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for Grenache in their specialist fields.

As panel presenters including consultant oenologist Zelma Long, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and Pancho Campo MW summarised their views, the communication challenges posed by the multi-faceted personality of Grenache were balanced by consensus on the priorities for the road ahead.

Concluding the symposium, Michel Bettane drew up an immediate action plan for each corner of the trade. Addressing inter-professional bodies such as Inter-Rhóne and Wines of Spain first of all, he highlighted the urgent need to protect parcels of old vine Grenache currently being ripped up.

Equally high up the priority list was a plea, directed in particular towards the Old World, to help the consumer realise that Grenache plays a major role in many of their best loved wines.

Bettane called for change, saying: “Everyone who makes Grenache, from the most prestigious to the most humble, must fight to force the regulatory structures in your area to include Grenache on the back label.”

Bettane especially urged high profile producers of Grenache to support their smaller neighbours and in particular to raise awareness of the ageing potential of this often underrated variety. A magnum of 1952 Château de la Gardine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape presented at the tasting on Saturday perfectly illustrated the heights of which Grenache is capable.

For the trade, Campo’s panel proposed communicating the key strengths of Grenache through “the three Ps”: pleasure, price and partnership. In short, highlighting the generous, approachable style offered by this variety at an invariably good value price, together with the strengths Grenache brings as part of a blend.

In a bid to capitalise on the momentum created by this symposium, Nancy Gilchrist MW proposed an International Grenache Day. Plans are now underway to raise awareness and support for this event, due to take place on Friday 24 September, when retailers and restaurateurs will be encouraged to run special offers, tastings or menus designed to showcase the quality and versatility of this variety.  

The value of social media was also earmarked as a tool for bringing Grenache into the mainstream consciousness. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are seen by many as territory already staked out by the “old guard”, the delegates felt that Grenache’s approachability for young consumers made it an ideal candidate for a viral campaign via Facebook and Twitter, coordinated through a central website.

For the moment, the Symposium website will act as a central hub as these proposals begin to be implemented.

For full coverage and analysis of the symposium, see the special report in July’s issue of the drinks business.

Gabriel Savage, 09.06.2010

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No