What the hell is GSM!
This October wine flight: GSM is the king of grape blends used in the Southern Rhône region of France where most wines are blends rather than made from a single vine variety. Now first things first, GSM is short for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. There are other grape varieties used to make these typical blends too like Cinsault and Carignan. And just to confuse you, as the wine world loves to do!
- Grenache is called Garnacha in Spain and Cannonau in Sardinia.
Syrah is called Shiraz in Australia
- Mouvèdre is called Monastrell in Spain, and Mataro in Australia and California.
- Cinsault is sometimes called Black Prince in Australia and Ottavianello in Italy. When crossed with Pinot Noir in South Africa it’s called Pinotage.
- Carignan is called Cariñena in Spain, Mazuelo in Rioja and Samsó in Catalunya.
These blends are used in quite a few regions today and are proving extremely popular. They originated and are best known because these grapes are used to make Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is the most important, and variable, appellation in the Southern Rhône in terms of quality, producing mainly rich, spicy, full-bodied red wines which can be some of the most alluring expressions of warm-climate viticulture, but can also be either impossibly tannic or disappointingly jammy. The wine takes its name, which means ‘Pope’s new castle’, from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon in the 14th century.
Carbonic maceration, semi- carbonic maceration or whole bunch fermentation are popular methods of winemaking in this region. It is the red winemaking process which transforms a small amount of sugar in grapes which are uncrushed to ethanol (alcohol), without the intervention of yeasts. It is used typically to produce light-bodied, brightly coloured, fruity red wines for early consumption.
In this month’s flight, we wanted to showcase these blends with a twist so we picked three from different regions. They would all go very well with our pork belly and our chicken.
Domaine Seguela, Les Candalieres 2013, Côtes du Roussillon Villages, France
Grapes: 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Carignane
This is the great entry point to the Seguela Domaine. It is a great Southern French blend that meets the reputation of Chateauneuf in its ingredients and then adds Roussillon’s own footprint. The three components of the blend combine to make a typically bright, lively, fruit-driven wine with moderate body and structure.
Casa Benasal, Elegant 2012, DO Valencia, Spain
Grapes: Organic Mourvèdre, Syrah and Garnacha Tintorera.
Mourvedre gives tannins, colour and length to the wine and the Syrah gives structure and dark fruit. The wine remains in the bottle a minimum of three months to consumption.
Yalumba, The Strapper, 2011, Barossa Valley, Australia.
Grapes: Greneche, Shiraz, Mataro
The Strapper in thoroughbred parlance is the reliable and trustworthy member of the team – not generally in the limelight. The Strapper, Barossa Valley GSM is not the showy type, rather the wine that the winemakers drink, when they’re not having a Riesling or an ale. Authentic Barossa Shiraz is sandwiched between the understated fragrant perfume of Grenache and the earthy, rustic tannins of Mataro – a well-bred, strapping and savoury wine.