Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre blended wines – commonly known by the acronym GSM – are the particular specialty of the southern Rh?ne Valley in France. Grenache and Syrah are key in this part of the world, and are complemented in this instance by the addition of Mourvèdre: an important but slightly less famous inclusion to the blend.
GSM wines, which have been readily adopted by the New World, are rich, full bodied and leathery, and are characterized by flavors of dark fruit and spice.
© Robert Oatley Vineyards
All three varieties have the Mediterranean coast as their homeland, and all three are very important to the region's viticultural makeup. Grenache, which contributes spice, red fruit and alcohol to the blend, is widespread in southern France and also in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha (and is a component of the Rioja blend).
Mourvèdre, the key grape variety in Bandol, shares this Mediterranean dispersal and is also found in Spain where it is known as Monastrell. It gives tannins, color and length to the wine. Syrah, with its structure and dark fruit, is very much a French variety and is the mainstay of the northern Rh?ne Valley.
The most notable application of the GSM blend in France is in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. While this appellation famously allows for 13 different varieties, many producers make Grenache-dominant wines with Syrah and Mourvèdre in smaller proportions, with any other permitted varieties making up just a fraction of the blend.
The C?tes du Rh?ne AOC has this as its key blend as well (where the three grapes must make up at least 60 percent of any wine and at least 70 percent of plantings), as do several other appellations in southern France, including Vacqueyras, Corbières and La Clape.
The traditional nature of the blend has not stopped forward-thinking, modern vignerons in the new world from experimenting with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. A group of producers along California's Central Coast calling themselves the "Rh?ne Rangers" began to promote the three varieties in the 1980s, making wines in the spirit of the southern Rh?ne.
Chief among these wines was Randall Grahm's "Le Cigare Volant", a GSM wine based on the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend, the label of which recalls the famous municipal decree that excludes flying saucers from the nearby vineyards. The original label is now discontinued.
The GSM blend is also used widely in Australia, where Syrah is known as Shiraz and often makes up the bulk of the wine. While this blend is quantitatively not as important as varietal Shiraz, it is widely used, particularly in South Australia's Barossa Valley.
Food pairings for Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre wines include:
- Steak with bone marrow
- Braised lamb shoulder with roasted parsnips
- Cumin and garlic beef strips