Whether performing solo in its role as single-cultivar wine or sharing the stage with Syrah to create a memorable two-hander, Creation Grenache is a hard act to follow!
Friday 15 September is International Grenache Day and the Creation team is applauding this amazing cultivar with its diverse flavour profiles and fantastic food pairing potential.
Grenache is widely thought to be a Spanish variety, first appearing in the Aragon region of Spain around the 15th Century. There are however also claims that it was brought there from Sardinia where it is known as ‘Cannonau’. Grenache is a resilient vine and has flourished over the centuries to become one of the widest planted varieties internationally, acquiring over 50 synonyms along the way! Today almost half the world’s Grenache vineyards are located in France, concentrated in the southern climes where the cultivar contributes to the red wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the rosés of Tavel in the southern Rhône. It is also widely planted in the prolific Languedoc-Roussillon region.
The Grenache vineyard at Creation represents a pioneering first planting of this cultivar in the Hemel-en-Aarde. This later ripening variety is planted with a north-south row direction, an orientation allowing for ample sunlight penetration to ensure optimal physiological ripeness. The Grenache vineyard site benefits from a gentle slope and west-facing aspect resulting in excellent drainage and more sunlight, as is required by red cultivars. The thick, waxy, shiny green foliage is particularly resilient to the occasional strong winds and the vine itself fairly resistant to most diseases. The Creation Grenache, as with all the vines planted at Creation, also benefits from the unique combination of a cool night index of 12 degrees less than the daytime temperature as well as a long, sunny ripening season. This results in a fresh, fruity but not overripe style of Grenache.
The now fully mature, virus-free Grenache vines at Creation offer winemaker-viticulturist Jean-Claude (JC) Martin the opportunity of selecting exceptionally high quality pockets of grapes that provide the ultimate expression of terroir, and release them in a single-vineyard bottling. The first (2014) vintage of the Creation Sumac Grenache was released in 2016, comprising only 12 000 bottles. The wine is described as deep crimson in colour with a secret glimmer of purple to capture the imagination. Intense aromas of cranberry, exotic spice and nuances of dark rose petal fulfil the promise. It is a cooler climate Grenache rewarding with a feast of bright pomegranate, red currant, cracked peppercorn and a sprinkling of sumac lingering on the velvety palate. Among the many accolades have been a score of 91 points allocated by the leading wine critic Neal Martin for the 2014 vintage and 92 points for the 2015 vintage allocated by Jamie Goode, renowned British author and wine columnist.
Even more sought-after than the Creation Sumac Grenache is the Creation Syrah, Grenache. This magnificent Rhône-style blend is the winner of an ever-growing list of local and international awards. The 2014 vintage was selected as Grand Cru National Champion in its class at the 2016 National Wine Challenge while the wine was awarded Platinum at the 2016 South African Wine Index (SAWi) Awards. Top scores for the 2015 vintage include 92 points allocated by Neal Martin and 93 points by Jamie Goode.
The fruit-driven style of the Grenache serves as the perfect foil for the denser structure and spicy flavours present in the Syrah. The blend is dark purple in colour, almost black, with flashes of deep crimson. Alluring aromas of ripe black olive are elegantly complemented by whiffs of pepper, following through on the palate which is full-bodied with intense flavours of plum, black pepper, tapenade and umami. Supple tannins and well-integrated acidity contribute to the appeal.
Whether stealing the show on its own, or in tandem with the Syrah, when it comes to pairing it with food, the Creation Grenache is a wine of many parts. In fact, Creation pairing guru Carolyn Martin likes to describe the blend as a ‘sly chameleon’ due to its ability to change personality depending on the occasion. The natural acidity and resulting freshness and poise make the Grenache a versatile pairing wine. Inherent savoury notes associated with the umami flavour also contribute to this food-friendly character, making the Grenache as well as the blend welcome additions to the cellar of the wine pairing enthusiast.
Always keen to try new pairings and experiment with unusual combinations, the Creation Culinary Team has come up with an ever-growing repertoire of dishes to be paired with the Grenache and the Rhône-style blend. Here are two examples:
Creation Sumac Grenache – sensational with Roast Duck Breast with Tomato and Chorizo Reduction, Goat’s-milk Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes with Rye Toast. Click here for the recipe.
Creation Syrah, Grenache – highly recommended with Duck Breast with Red Wine Jus, Roasted Butternut and Carrot Purée, Courgette, Trio of Beetroot, Shiitake Polenta Cake and Kale Crisp. Click here for the recipe.
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