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Monday, May 25, 2009

Cheap Wines That Don't Suck: 2007 Abel Clement Grenache

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2009 at 11:37 AM

No fruit bomb here
  • No fruit bomb here
Grenache (in Spain, Garnacha) is one of the most popular wine grapes in the world. It's almost always a blending grape, and since it's high in sugar, it produces wine that's high in alcohol, making it a natural choice for fortified wines. You often hear Grenache described as fruity, and it is fruity for a French wine. But compared to the California fruit bombs we've become accustomed -- and inured -- to, it's fairly restrained.

The purest expression of Grenache occurs in the Rhône Valley of southern France, where it's the chief grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape -- a wine that can run you a pretty penny. But as simple vin de table, often made with Grenache from vineyards adjacent to the famous ones, it can be wonderful everyday wine. For $9 at Arlequin Wine Merchant in Hayes Valley, you can snag a perfect example: the 2007 Abel Clement Côtes du Rhône, produced by a cooperative in Vaucluse just north of Aix-en-Provence. It emphasizes the fresh cherry profile common to the grape without veering off into overripe. And the fact that you can buy a gallon of it in France for about five bucks notwithstanding, it's a relative bargain here.

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Kim Westerman

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