Grenache Blanc is, without a doubt, an under-appreciated grape. When we originally made these education style pages a few years ago, we didn’t even make a Grenache Blanc entry. I recently sat down with an assistant winemaker in western Sonoma, whom admitted that she had never even tasted a varietal version of the grape. Oh and in the famed Russian River Valley in Sonoma, there’s all of a single acre remaining of the grape.
Grenache Blanc is a Rhone varietal and like most of it’s contemporaries from the region, it almost went extinct in California and much of the new world during the 1980’s. Unlike Syrah and Grenache though, there hasn’t been an explosion of interest in the grape since the rise of the Rhone Rangers. While plantings have increased at least 50% in the past decade, there’s still only 250 acres planted in the entire state, about the size of a single large vineyard.
That’s unfortunate because when made from a cool climate vineyard site, this is a nice alternative to Chardonnay in California. Grenache Blanc itself is a higher alcohol and lower acidity white wine, much like the Chardonnay’s that have made California famous