Grolleau in Viala & Vermorel (as Groslot de Cinq Mars)
|Color of berry skin||Noir|
|Also called||see list of synonyms|
|Notable wines||Rosé d'Anjou|
Grolleau or Grolleau noir is a red French wine grape variety grown primarily in the Loire Valley of France. The name is derived from the French word grolle, meaning "crow" and is said to reflect the deep black berries of the Grolleau vine. The grape is most commonly made into rosé wine, particularly when it is grown in the Anjou region where is the primarily grape of the Rosé d'Anjou wine. Grolleau wines tend to be low in alcohol and have high acidity.
The first documented plantings of Grolleau was in the Charente region in the early 19th century. Ampelographers believe that the grape is likely related to the ancient variety Gouais blanc. The Grolleau vine experienced its high point of popularity during the mid to late 20th century with the wide spread marketing appealing of Rosé d'Anjou wine, of which Grolleau was the principal component. Often blended with Gamay, Grolleau dominated Rosé d'Anjou was a sweet, easy drinking quaffing wine. Towards the turn of the 21st century, Rosé d'Anjou (and by extension Grolleau), started to fall out of favor in lieu of the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon dominated rosé Cabernet d'Anjou. By 2000 there were only 5,500 acres (2,200 hectares) of Grolleau planted in the Middle Loire.
The decline has been attributed, in part, to Grolleau's reputation for poor quality as noted by wine experts such as Jancis Robinson and Tom Stevenson. Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr., has taken a dim view of Grolleau's potential, recommending in his wine buying guide that growers in the Loire Valley should rip up all Grolleau vines and replace them with grape varieties that have more potential for quality wine production such as Gamay and Cabernet Franc.
The Grolleau vine is found mostly in the Middle Loire region where it is a permitted grape variety for the rosé Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC)s of Anjou, Touraine and Saumur AOC. The grape is limited to just rosé wines and is not permitted by AOC regulations into the red blends of these regions. It is also permitted as an ingredient in the sparkling wines of the Cremant de Loire, Anjou AOC and Saumur AOC.
Grolleau is a high yielding grapevine that ripens reliably and relatively early for the cool climate Loire Valley-often right after Gamay. The vine produces medium sized clusters clinging to the vine via its long, slender pedicels. The grapes are thin skinned with not a lot of phenolic compounds but after veraison they produce color ranging from gray to bluish/black depending on the clone. There are currently five clones of the Grolleau vine authorized for viticulture in France. The vine tends to bud early which can make it prone to damage by spring frosts. The long branches makes its susceptible to wind damage, requiring that it be planted near hillside shelter from the wind. Grolleau is sensitive to several grape diseases including excoriose and stem rot.
Grolleau produces light bodied, fairly neutral wines with noticeably high acidity. It is often produced in off-dry to medium sweet style, leaving some sugars in the wine to balance with the acidity.
Grolleau is also known under the synonyms Bourdalès, Franc noir, Gamay de Châtillon (in Savennières), Gamay-Groslot, Gloire de Tours, Grolleau de Cinq-Mars, Grolleau de Touraine, Grolleau de Tours, Grolleau noir, Grolo Chernyi, Grolot noir, Groslot, Groslot de Cinq-Mars, Groslot de Valere, Groslot de Valleres, Moinard, Moinard Grolleau, Neri, Noir de Saumur, Pineau de Saumur, Plant Boisnard, Plant Mini, and Rose d'Anjou.
Grolleau gris is also known under the synonyms Grolleau, Groslot de la Thibaudiere, and Groslot gris.
- Oz Clarke & M. Rand Encyclopedia of Grapes pg 113 Webster International Publishers ISBN 0-15-100714-4
- J. Robinson Vines Grapes & Wines pg 199 Mitchell Beazley 1986 ISBN 1-85732-999-6
- VITIS Ampelographical Dictionary "Grolleau" (in French) Accessed: September 24, 2009
- J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 334 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6
- J. Robinson Jancis Robinson's Wine Course Third Edition pg 182 Abbeville Press 2003 ISBN 0-7892-0883-0
- T. Stevenson "The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia" pg 202-204 Dorling Kindersley 2005 ISBN 0-7566-1324-8
- R. Parker "Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide 6th Edition" pg 633-634 Simon & Schuster 2002 ISBN 0-7432-2931-2
- Plumpjack Winery "Domaine des Sablonnettes Les Copains d’Abord" Wine Club Newsletter pg 2, July 2006
- Alice Feiring "New Years Day Grolleau" Veritas in Vino, January 2, 2005
- J. Robinson Jancis Robinson's Wine Course Third Edition pg 112 Abbeville Press 2003 ISBN 0-7892-0883-0
- Grolleau noir, Vitis International Variety Catalogue, accessed 2010-11-24