Old vine Grenache. The product of ancient, gnarled vines capable of producing grapes of unparalleled intensity and power. Old vines are the antithesis of conventional beauty by anyone’s standards, yet are able to yield up some of the world’s most extraordinarily concentrated wines. “These old vines are just about the most haggard, gnarly things you’ll ever see,” says Jon Higgs, Head of Private Client Sales at Chelsea Vintners. “But the fruit they produce is magical”.
Old vine fruit is characterised by intense fruit flavours and supple, fine grained tannins resulting from the near-drought conditions in which the vines often grow. Think intense strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavours. Aromas of fresh plums and blueberries. Unctuous, aromatic spices. Hints of violet, cacao and hibiscus flower. From El Espectacle de Montsant, where grapes are plucked from centenarian vines on dizzyingly steep land in the Montsant, to the beautiful Comando G Rumbo al Norte, produced from a sun-scorched 1200-metre-high vineyard in La Sierra de Gredos, old vine winemaking is a flavour-packed paradox. Ugly, yet beautiful.
Although many grape varieties are capable of yielding old vine fruit, Grenache is undoubtedly one of the most popular. Once considered a workhorse of the wine world, innovative and imaginative winemakers across Spain, Southern France and Australia are now revisiting venerable Grenache vines to create truly remarkable wines. Clinging to steep, rugged outcrops, scattered across mountainsides, often as hard to reach as they are unsightly to behold, these wizened-looking vines are the perfect reminder of of one the oldest idioms in the English language: never judge a book by its cover.
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