The garnacha I’ve been drinking lately is known by another name in France: grenache. Garnacha and grenache are the same grape, and the grape variety grows very well in regions in northern Spain and southern France. According to Wine Folly, there are 500,000 acres of the grape planted in the major wine regions worldwide, and about 420,000 of those acres are located between France and Spain.

The grape makes some of the world’s best known wines, like Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and it also makes some of the world’s best value wines, like the $9 bottle of Garnacha De Fuego that I buy frequently.

GSM blend

While educating myself about the grenache/garnacha grape, I came across the letters "GSM" frequently. GSM stands for a blend of grapes that is used frequently in France: grenache, syrah and mourvèdre. Winemakers can create distinctive wines by varying the percentage of each of these grapes in a particular wine. More grenache, the lightest of three grapes, should make a lighter wine. More syrah, and you should get a bolder wine.

It seems grenache is the predominant grape in most GSM blends, but sometimes there is more syrah than grenache. Mourvèdre, the boldest of the three grapes, is usually added into the blend in small amounts.

Specific GSM wines

I’ve tried two GSM wines recently, both from the Pic Saint-Loup in the Languedoc region of France.

  • Château La Roque Pic Saint Loup Rouge (2012). This blend of 65 percent grenache, 25 percent syrah and 10 percent mourvèdre comes from 40-year-old vines. The winery practices biodynamic viticulture.
  • Château de Lascaux Pic Saint-Loup Carra (2013). This wine is a blend of 60 percent syrah, 35 percent grenache and 5 percent mourvèdre and is grown using organic viticulture. The grenache does not always have to be the prominent grape in a GSM blend.
These are lovely wines. They’re a bit lighter than the Spanish garnachas that I’ve been drinking lately, but had many of the same flavors — berry fruit flavors and a bit spicy. The Château La Roque was the lighter of the two; the predominant syrah of the Château de Lascaux made it a bit bolder, a bit spicier. Of course, others may taste different things in the wines than I did.

The French may be the most well-known for making wines from the grenache/syrah/mourvèdre blend, but wineries in California, Oregon and Washington are using the GSM blend, too. SFGate has a list of West Coast wines that have what it's calls the Rhoneish blend of grapes.

I anticipate a tasting of GSM wines from France and from the West Coast in my future.

Do you have a favorite GSM wine?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.