Two global forces are elevating grenache to a higher plane in the world order of wines.

Australia is home to the oldest grenache vines on the planet, dating back to 1848, as the devastating phylloxera outbreak in the late 1880s wiped out vines across Spain and France. But until recent years, grenache’s virtues have often been lost in the glare of shiraz’s enduring appeal in Australia.

But, as Barossa winemaker Damien Tscharke explains, our changing climate and wine lovers’ shifting preference for lighter styles is pushing grenache out of the shadows.

The Australian Wine Club this week puts the spotlight on grenache, offering four excellent examples from South Australia in its mixed dozen deal of the week, including the Tscharke A Thing of Beauty Grenache 2021. Beautiful, indeed.

So how is grenache different than shiraz? A good grenache produces lifted floral and red fruit aromas of ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry with hints of black pepper, whereas shiraz tends to express aromas of black and blue fruits, particularly plums and blackberries, along with pepper, spice and earthy characters.

On the palate, well-made grenache tends to be lighter and more delicate than shiraz, with those red fruit flavours carrying through.

Tscharke, whose family have owned vineyards in the Barossa for six generations, says grenache is better placed than shiraz to deal with the extremes of climate change.

Grenache vines, which originated in Aragon in northeastern Spain, are better suited to growing in arid conditions. They are known as a “moderately vigorous” variety, producing less canopy (leaves) than shiraz and retaining a more consistent balance between fruit and canopy.

“Grenache is a great survivor – pretty much bulletproof,” Tscharke says. “Whereas shiraz can struggle if it’s too hot, for too long.”

Grenache also epitomises that lighter, fragrant wine style being sought by more consumers around the world nowadays. Pinot noir is also benefiting from this change.

Tscharke says he believes grenache “actually looks better without oak”, enabling wine lovers to experience a fresh, light taste.

Australia’s traditional shiraz style in regions such as the Barossa and McLaren Vale – that’s rich, bold, big and beautiful! – relies on the use of new French and American oak, which helps soften the wines and make them less astringent by allowing a slow intake of oxygen. Oak also imparts rich flavours such as vanilla (French) and coconut (American).

But, as Tscharke says, lighter grenache styles don’t need oak to soften. Many winemakers are now preferring to use amphora vessels made from terracotta, which impart no additional flavour, allowing fresh fruit to dominate the taste. Tscharke’s A Thing of Beauty was aged in amphora for eight months after different grenache components were blended.

“There’s a freshness and delicacy and prettiness to these wines, which elevates the fruit,’’ Tscharke says.

Grenache is also incredibly versatile: from rose styles, to lighter unoaked blends to richer oaked styles as well. “It’s such a great workhorse and has infinite options,’’ he says.

So if you’re looking for something lighter, especially as the season changes, splash around a bit of grenache – and don’t be afraid to enjoy it slightly chilled during these warmer months.

Tscharke A Thing of Beauty Grenache 2021

Tscharke’s aptly named grenache could have been made by fairies: pretty aromas of rose petals, cherries and ripe strawberries lift from the glass, complemented by savoury hints. The palate surprises with its seriousness: concentrated strawberry flavours give way to spicy, savoury tones, with a touch of orange rind and aniseed.

Complexity, finesse and power. The new age of grenache is here. 93 points from Team Halliday. 14.6% alc; RRP $28 a bottle.

SPECIALS $25 a bottle in any dozen; $19.99 a bottle in grenache dozen.

Dandelion Vineyards Menagerie of the Barossa GSM 2021

Classic Rhone-style blend of grenache, shiraz and Mataro (73/19/8%) from Elena Brooks. Red and blue fruits meld with savoury pan juices, black pepper, exotic spices and licorice. Fresh acidity and soft tannins.

Dangerously drinkable. 94 points from Team Halliday. 14.5% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.

SPECIALS $23.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.99 a bottle in grenache dozen.

Allegiance Wines The Artisan South Australian Grenache 2021

Earthy nose with strawberry jam, toasty oak and vanilla. The medium-bodied palate is packed with fruit and more concentrated than the nose belies. Mouth-watering acidity and tannins balance the fruit.

94 points in Australian Wine Showcase Magazine. 14% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.

SPECIALS $29.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.99 a bottle in grenache dozen.

Sevenhill Cellars Estate Grown Inigo Clare Valley Grenache 2021

Cinnamon and red fruit aromas lead to juicy red fruits, cherry and spice on a lightly framed palate. Good structure, will work nicely with food but lovely on its own too. Lingers on the palate.

91 points from Team Halliday. 14% alc; RRP $28 a bottle.

SPECIALS $22.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.99 a bottle in grenache dozen.

GRENACHE DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $19.99 a bottle. SAVE $138 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.