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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
8 Jun 2010


The very first event focused on the Grenache grape drew a particularly starry cast to Provence last weekend as well as huge enthusiasm, as detailed by Julia yesterday in G-Day at the Grenache Symposium. In many parts of the world, the easiest way to find a Grenache-based wine is to head for a red Côtes du Rhône, while in Spain a significant proportion of the vines grown for red wines are Garnacha (as the vine was called before it was taken to France to become Grenache).

But, as you can see in our evolving Old vine register, many of the oldest vines all over the world are Grenache because it is so hardy, and quite a number of them are in Australia. Willunga 100 Grenache 2007 McLaren Vale is a seriously well made Australian red, a brand developed to capitalise on some of the older vines in McLaren Vale south of the city of Adelaide. And yet it is currently on sale in the UK, widely available at Sainsbury's supermarkets, for less than £8 a bottle. In fact, it was the single most impressive red in my recent assessment of Sainsbury's summer offerings.

With its useful screwcap and well-designed label, it looks considerably Willunga_Grenachesmarter than the supermarket average. The wine is made by the talented Steve Pannell (pictured) and Kate Day at the 100 year-old Tinlins winery from various parcels of Grenache vines up to 50 years old grown mainly on sandy soils which produce open, friendly fruit and darker soils which contribute rather more structured ingredients. Syrah represents 5% of the blend and here's my tasting note, prefaced with the information provided by Sainsbury's in italics:

Willunga 100 Grenache 2007 McLaren Vale 16.5 Drink 2009-2012
95% Grenache, 5% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale, grown on sandy soils. The wine is vinified in stainless steel and both plunging and pump over are used. A little Shiraz is included prior to maturation in French oak. RS 0.2 g/l. Winemaker is Steve Pannell at Tinlins Winery. Screwcap
Lots of sumptuous fruit. Big and alcoholic and as Australian as a hot afternoon but very well done. Slightly tarry but with lots of broad strawberry fruit at first. VGV. [very good value] 14.5%
£7.99 Sainsbury's

But how significant a preposition can be. I see that the notes provided by the UK importer Liberty include the phrase 'a little Shiraz is included prior to maturation with French oak', thereby suggesting, much more realistically, that this inexpensive wine was aged with some French oak chips or inner staves, whereas by changing 'with' to 'in', the supermarket is suggesting that this wine was aged in oak barrels.

Now I come to think of it, this was the same set of background notes that suggested that a sweet white bordeaux they are selling for £3.49 a half was 'made from grapes with noble rot'. Rot's the word.