Grenache blanc (also known as Garnatxa Blanca in Catalonia) is a variety of white wine grape that is related to the red grape Grenache. It is mostly found in Rhône wine blends and in northeast Spain. Its wines are characterized by high alcohol and low acidity, with citrus and or herbaceous notes. Its vigor can lead to overproduction and flabbiness. However, if yields are controlled, it can contribute flavor and length to blends, particularly with Roussanne. Since the 1980s, it has been the fifth most widely planted white wine grape in France after Ugni Blanc, Chardonnay, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
Grenache blanc is thought to have originated as a mutation of the red version of Grenache in Spain. It then spread across the Pyrenees to France, finding a second home in the Rhône.
Grenache blanc is an important variety in the French wine region of the Rhône Valley, often blended with Roussanne in wines and even being included in some red wines. It is a major component in the white wines of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhône AOCs. Up to 10% Grenache blanc is permitted to be included in the red wines of the Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC. In the Rivesaltes AOC, the grape is used as a blending component in some of the regions vin doux naturel wines. Nearly half of all Grenache blanc plantings in France are located in the Roussillon region where the grape is often blended with Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Rolle. In the upper Agly Valley, varietal terroir driven examples are starting to be produced. In white Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache Blanc provides fruitiness and fatness to a blend that often includes Roussanne, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, and Clairette Blanche.
In Spain it is mostly found in the Spanish wine regions along the Pyrenees, particularly in Navarra and the Terra Alta region in Catalonia. It is also widely planted in the Priorat, Alella and Aragon. It is permitted in the white wines of Rioja but is not widely used due to the tendency of the must to oxidize easily.
In Australia the variety known as “White Grenache” was identified by ampelographer Paul Truel as Biancone in 1976.
Grenache blanc responds best to low fermentation temperatures which produces a fresh, dill-scented wine in its youth. The grape is fairly flexible in winemaking and can be exposed to malolactic fermentation, extended skin maceration, lees stirring as well as oak aging. In addition to being blended with Roussanne, Grenache blanc is sometimes blended with Muscat and made in a varietal style.
The end of its young open branches have white downy with a light carmine border.
Young cobwebby leaves are green or slightly bronzed and very shiny. Adult leaves
have 5 lobes with very narrow upper lateral sinuses with acute bases, a more or less open lyre-shaped petiole sinus, angular, narrow and small teeth. Medium to large bunches are tapered, compact and winged with medium sized grapes.
The variety is very vigorous but moderately productive. It is adapted to low acid gravelly or stony soils. Depending on the soil and type of wine, it gives from 20 hL/ha in Roussillon to nearly 100 hL/ha in the plains. Grenache is generally grown in a short-pruned goblet.
It is not very sensitive to powdery mildew but it fears downy mildew, parasitic fungus, gray rot, magnesium deficiency and grape worms. It is resistant to drought and strong winds.
White Grenache gives powerful and warm dry white wines, with fat and fullness as well as a good length in the mouth, but often lacking in acidity. It is often blended with Roussanne, Marsanne, Bourboulenc or even Viognier, to which it gives a nice balance. Naturally rich in sugar, it is also used to make natural sweet wines. Finally, its natural propensity to oxidation is highly prized for the production of Rancio apéritif wines.
Wines made from Grenache Blanc are marked by aromas of Reine Claude prunes, almond blossom, fennel, dill, white nectarine, melon and even quince. Tasting notes often include stone fruit such as peach, apricot, and lychee as well as green fruits such as green apple, pear, honeydew, and lime. Herbs and spices such as star anise, nutmeg, cumin, and dill can are found in Grenache Blanc variety wines and blends.
Production area en 2018: 5 500 ha (13 591 acres)