Let us get one thing absolutely clear, I completely loathe Grenache; it is absolutely disgusting. As far as I am concerned the grapes are goat droppings from the Devil’s own Satanic tribe.
I say this because, very kindly, I have been sent a Grenache to review… Oh dear, this isn’t going to go down well!
It is quite a serious Grenache – from the talented Ian Naudé’s old vine series. The vines are actually not really old, but Ian found this block and was so impressed with the quality of the fruit that he wanted to market the wine in his prestige range. I would be impressed with the quality of fruit from a block of Grenache if the fruit amounted to none at all, but each to their own!
Will Ian be able to pull a rabbit out of the Grenache-sewer? Will Ian have a solution to the Southern Rhône problem (the problem being that most of the Grenache-based wines grown there are bleeding dreadful)?
Personally, I think that even the highly praised Mr Naudé cannot turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, but I said I’d review it; be prepared for a torrent of rude words that would make a London taxi driver blush!
As instructed by Greg at Handford Wines, my South African wine dealer, I decanted this a couple of hours before The Editor and I hesitantly tasted it.
Oh dear, the rim of the wine in our glasses had a noticeable orange hue; oxidative wine making – is it going to stink of volatile acidity and little else?
There is some mistake! There is no volatile acidity at all! What is going on here?
Indeed, it’s not oxidative at all! The fruit is fresh and vibrant, think plums and blackberries, even a hint of some kind of flowers (do not ask me what type, I was not that kind of biologist).
OK, there is a hint of Port-y character going on here, the alcohol is a little high. However, with those delicious scents of flowers and a pure earthiness, the slight Port-character is a soft, delicate, very mature Portiness rather than a young, fiery number.
Well bugger me! This smells really nice! There is a nose of delicate flowers and fresh fruit, all very supple, subtle, understated and lovely. The Naudé Grenache old vines 2014 also has a refined, complex earthiness as well. It is lovely! There must be some problem in the space/time continuum.
If I had to criticise the nose, I could say it is a tiny shade hot. Really I don’t mind this in the slightest as it gives a lovely, pure sweetness to the rather winning fresh, ripe fruit. This Naudé Grenache has a really good nose! I am more than a shade surprised!
So the Naudé Grenache is a massive success on the nose. Shall we see how the palate stacks up against the usual faults one finds in Grenache-based wines?
Tannin: Grenache is usually soupy and gloopy because it is over ripe and has no tannin left in the skin. Some people try to correct this by squeezing the fruit so hard the pips squeak. This makes a harsh, bitter, overly dry wine.
Neither of these extremes are clung to in Naudé’s old vine Grenache. It has very present tannins but they give a feeling of being silken and svelte.
Acidity is much the same. It can be ripened out of Grenache so the resultant wine is soupy or heavily extracted, making harsh, acrid wines.
Naudé’s Grenache is fresh and bright. Perfectly balanced and integrated with the svelte tannins to make a properly structured, vivacious and energetic wine.
Fruit in Grenache is almost invariably jammy or stewed. Not in this wine! It’s fresh and really delicious. The plummy, blackberry fruit persist for a long after time after swallowing. There are flavours akin to the floral aromas too.
I’ll just cover a couple of other points before a summary. This has a complex thread of chipped granite minerality mixed with rich loam to it; it is quite delicious in its intricacies. All whilst being very lively and packed with deeply lovely fruit. It is a hint boozy and not 100% squeaky clean, but do not let that bother you, this is a damn enjoyable, damn fine wine.
This has had six years ageing already and is quite the stunner. I would drink it now, but it’ll really keep for five or so years.
So I would like to apologise to Grenache for all the nasty things I have said about it in this article. It can produce wines with bright, fresh fruit and delicious floral tastes and aromas. Wines with confident but silken structures that support the fruity, stoney, earthy characteristics in a complex and really satisfying manner.
There does not have to be a Grenache sewer, only pretty bunnies. There does not have to be a Southern Rhône problem. All it takes is the right fruit in the right hands.
Chapeau, Ian Naudé!
Buy from Handford.