In the sun-drenched vineyards of the Southern Rhône Valley, the most influential grape varieties, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (GSM) jostle for position, but ultimately, they are at their best when working together in the classic Rhône blend.
House of Grenache:
The first of this well-matched trio is Grenache, which set out from its Spanish homeland to find a footing in lands as far-flung as Australia's Barossa Valley, California and even China.
But it is in France's southern climes that Grenache has found its spiritual home. This heat-loving grape variety thrives in the long, warm, dry summers of the Languedoc and the Southern Rhône, and is considered the lynchpin grape in both Côtes du Rhone and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Grenache is medium-bodied with high alcohol and moderate tannin and acidity, it has natural flavours of strawberry, raspberry and cherry. With oak it will often have secondary flavours of tobacco, cinnamon and anise. It makes its star appearance in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where although 13 varieties can be used in the blend it is often Grenache that takes centre stage.
House of Syrah:
Next in this influential trio is Syrah – thick-skinned, broody, tannic and oozing concentrated black fruits, it brings colour, gravitas and power to the GSM blend. In the Northern Rhône it stands sentinel alone as the only permitted black-skinned grape variety, but in the south it is forms strong bonds with Grenache, Mourvèdre and many other grape varieties to create some of the most famous blends in the world of wine.
One of the best-value wines in our Christmas promotion is this GSM blend from our long-time partners, Bonpas. The winery is located in an old friary building with over 700 years of history: and their wines are equally venerable. This textbook Côtes-du-Rhône is medium-bodied with plenty of bramble fruit, refreshing acidity and virtually no tannin- very soft and easy to drink! A brilliant all-rounder with or without food and a great introduction to the GSM blend.
House of Mourvèdre:
Another grape originally hailing from Spain, Mourvèdre is the most unpredictable and mysterious of the GSM trio. Often used judiciously in the blend, a little can have a big influence, bringing deep dark fruit flavours, full-bodied richness and black pepper. Mourvèdre is renowned for representing the soil in which it grows, being an ambassador for its terroir.
These trio of grapes have carved a large swathe of territory in the Languedoc and make up most of the best blends there. To see how good the GSM blend can be, drop into your local O'Briens Wines this weekend- the Château Belles Eaux Les Coteaux from France's Languedoc region will be open and ready to taste in-store. Aromas of ripe brambly berries, peppery spice and wild Mediterranean herbs. The smooth, full-bodied palate is similar to a good Southern Rhône Cru with black fruit and spice flavours before a long silky, savoury finish.
No need to book a tasting, just drop by your local O'Briens store and and our friendly staff will happily introduce you to the wines on the tasting table.
Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie.