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First Grenache-only competition announced

France is to host what is being billed as the first international competition solely for Grenache wines, to help shed light on a frequently overlooked grape variety.

Grenaches du Monde (Grenaches of the World) is open to producers worldwide and will take place in Perpignan, the capital of France’s Roussillon region, in January 2013.

The news comes as the Grenache Association, a partner in the competition, prepares for its third annual Grenache Day celebrations on September 21st.

Tastings are planned from San Francisco to Guangzhou in China. A Twitter user ‘tweet-up’ gathering including d’Arenberg and Chapel Hill wines will take place in South Australia’s McLaren Vale.

Dubbed an ‘eco-friendly grape’ because of its low water demand, Grenache, also known as Garnacha and Cannonau, is widely planted but is little-known by consumers.

Only around one-in-four consumers, questioned last year by research group DoILikeIt?, associated Grenache with the term ‘fine wine’, despite its use in prestigious denominations like Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Spain’s Priorat.

‘It’s about education,’ said Marlene Angelloz, head of communication at the Grenache Association. ‘We’re seeing more and more wineries put Grenache on back labels.’

Others are more cautious. ‘Unless or until Grenache gets a name as a solo performer, consumers will be slow to see it in the same way that they see varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Malbec,’ said Robert Joseph, director of DoILikeIt?

D’Arenberg’s chief winemaker, Chester Osborn, is a big supporter of single varietal Grenache. ‘As a variety it has wonderfully fresh, sweet red fruits, beautiful spices and balanced lively tannins,’ he said.

Grenaches of the World is open to bottled wines containing at least 60% Grenache, whether in noir, gris or blanc form. This figure is 85% for those entering as ‘pure’ Grenache, rather than as blends.

Written by Chris Mercer

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