South's Africa's Top 5 Grenache Wines

22 Oct, 2017 | by Brittany Hawkins. | min read
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Grenache used to be the most planted red grape selection across the world, with substantial contributions from Spain and also the whole of the south of France, until probably being overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot during the last decade or two.

Grenache Noir was discovered in the 1800s but only verified in the early 1900s by a Professor at the University of Stellenbosch.

Even though there aren't ample amounts of Grenache Noir planted in South Africa, as a result of the South African Mediterranean climate, various Grenache based blends are becoming extremely trendy with winemakers.

The number and standard of cellars now offering a Grenache in their selection is rising every year. The Distell group as well as small, boutique and artisan cellars, and a few of the country's top independent wineries are among the contributors. An instance of gaining traction, you might argue, with the following wines from leading cellars receiving excellent reviews over the past few years. Most of the wines embody a great deal of power and structure, with intense fruity character, spice, and contribution from oak. But the majority on the list are well fitted to be placed into an ice bucket and enjoyed with an outdoor lunch, attainable when young and delicious.

1. Diemersdal Grenache

About the Farm

Diemersdal Wines are an excellent reflection of the distinct Durbanville terroir; the sum of the intricate interaction between geography, soil content and local climate. The grapes used for Diemersdal Wines are grown under ideal conditions, in dark red Hutton soils, featuring decomposed granite along with a significant clay content.

Diemersdal combines the traditional and modern worlds of winemaking. On the quest of the award-winning red wines that provide expression to the abundant diversity of the terroir,  conventional open fermenters are used to improve the natural flavours and alleviate the tannins in our grapes. Tremendous care is taken in selecting the barrels for each cultivar.

About the Wine

This wine offers complex flavours of cherries and plums, delicate hints of spice and smokiness because of its French Oak integration. The grapes are manually harvested at maximum ripeness, fermented in an open fermenter after which the ageing process starts in French oak barrels for ten months.

An appropriate wine to savour with light meals and delicate cheeses. Served at temperatures of around 12°C - 14°C.

2. Spice Route Grenache

About the Farm

The modern era of the Swartland began in 1997 when Charles Back discovered an old Tobacco farm, Klein Amoskuil. Baffled by the quality of grapes in an area better known for its wheat and large fynbos hills, the opportunity was evident, so Charles set forth to purchase the farm and study its soils and extreme climate, and Spice Route Winery was born.

About the Wine

Following the manual hand picking of grapes planted in 2006, they are fermented with conventional punching down of the skins. The wine then gently squeezed off the skins, gets transferred to French Oak barrels for the ageing of up to 12 months.

The wine is light red colour with flavours of red berry fruit and subtle pepper, cardamom and iron-like spice. This stylishly produced wine benefits from a lightness that doesn't reduce its complexity.

3. Neil Ellis Wines Grenache

About the Farm

Neil Ellis attempted to determine unique terroir in which specific varieties will succeed. He set the focus not only on the environment but also on thoughtful viticultural techniques by a devoted team of growers that expands through to the winemaking practices. The team at Neil Ellis Wines believes in conscientious ecological practices. The aim is to respect the soil, minimise water use, recycle and decrease energy consumption and greenhouse emissions.

About the Wine

Planted in Piekenierskloof in 1954 in sandstone soil. This wines fermentation process began in stainless steel tanks, but it wasn't without a few punch downs that malolactic fermentation was completed. It took almost two years to create this vibrant ruby coloured wine. Flavours of bright red fruit with spicy, peppery bouquets guarantees a beautiful freshness and fine, grippy tannins.

4. Tierhoek Grenache Noir

About the Farm

Tierhoek is a recognised farm of magnificence and diversity. This wine farm prospers as a result of cold, rainy winters and long, hot summers which are chilled by afternoon Atlantic sea breezes. The original Sandveld farm was restored by Tony and Shelley Sandell and is now most renowned for its world-class wines. Also, the endemic Buchu and Rooibos that grow here are the best that the area has to offer.

About the Wine

This wine was planted in the 1960's on a well drained, decomposed sandstone. The vines are all parched and all farming is done organically.  Right after the tannins were ripe, the grapes were picked and fermented at a cool temperature.  After fermentation, it was decided that macerations should be continued for another 7 days after which they were pressed and racked into aged French oak barrels. Aging took a whole 12 months until the wine was finally bottled.

This wine offers subtle hints of plum and cherries as well as a hint of spice.

5. Vriesenhof Grenache

About the Farm

At Vriesenhof, the art of making wine is an intriguing journey that commences in the vineyards and concludes with the satisfaction that accompanies a raised glass. Conventional wood maturation techniques merged effortlessly with contemporary fermentation processes.

About the Wine

The grapes underwent a 24-hour cold maceration before injection with a specific yeast culture. After completion of fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was racked to French Oak barrels where the ageing process of 18 months began.

Gorgeous, fruitful fragrances of raspberry and blackberry with an undertone of oak.  Vibrant flavours of raspberry, strawberry and vanilla are complemented with cinnamon and white pepper on the mid palate accompanied by a finish of smoky leather and dried peach.


It is evident that Grenache is regaining popularity, particularly among the trending wine lists and ‘hipster bars’ globally. The variety is ideally suited to warm and dry growing conditions than most and will produce exquisite light red fruit fragrances and succulent, easy drinking elegance even from dry-land vineyards in mild regions.

For more information on South African Wine farms and how to visit them when in South Africa, Winerist has all the information you will ever need.

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