Many weeks ago I received a box of sample wines on my doorstep. I opened this box to find six lovely bottles of wines from the great people at Wines of Garnacha. Needless to say I was thrilled. I wanted to honor these six wines but was not sure how to explore them and share my thoughts about each one; should I open them one at a time and write individual reviews or open them all at once? Since all wine is best when shared with friends, I decided to invite some of our friends over for a Spanish Garnacha party. Because it was the week before Christmas when we had our Spanish Garnacha fun I did not want to cook a big meal, but wanted a good food pairing so I ordered BBQ to pair with the wines. Additionally, it was a nice winter evening so we lit up the outdoor heaters and stoked the fire for a BBQ, Spanish Garnacha, pre-Christmas friends and fun celebration! And I must say before I continue… the wines were a BIG hit!
Some background on Granacha from the Wines of Garnacha web site:
Garnacha originated in the region of what is now eastern Spain. Garnacha thrived in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon spread to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the Crown of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries. As a result, Garnacha has a long history in southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and even Greece. Garnacha also spread to non-European regions in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Australia, North Africa and California.Garnacha is the only mainstream grape with red and white varieties. The wine itself can be red, white, and rosé. Also, most experts agree that Garnacha conveys the expression of soil, landscape and climate like no other wine. With that combination, Garnacha is one of the most versatile and diverse varieties.
Garnacha (also known as Grenache) is deceptively lighter red in the glass but delivers bold flavors of red berries, often with spice, anise, tobacco, cinnamon and even orange rind. As the wine ages it can also develop flavors of leather and tobacco. “Garnacha is not a difficult grape to grow, but it is highly sensitive to variations in terroir and requires specific conditions and care to produce its best wines. It is not easy to produce a good single varietal Garnacha; in some places, it is blended with other grapes so it can add its ripe, aromatic and fruity aromas to other grapes with more tannins or color.”
The six Garnacha wines I enjoyed represent the five Protected Designations of Origin located in the areas of Spain where Garnacha originated. These five regions are unique and diverse in their terroir, though each providing the hot, dry climate and well-drained soil Garnacha needs to thrive, and have partnered with the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union to insure the high quality of these wines as well as share information on the high quality mono-varietal wines. Each of the wines I enjoyed were a minimum of 85% Garnacha.
Agoston Garnacha and Syrah: This wine poured a light garnet with purple highlights; it opened with aromas of berries, spice and floral notes; on the palate it delivered flavors of red cherries, plums, black berries with spice, chocolate and smoke with round acidity, well balanced tannins and a lingering finish; this wine had a bit of gusto and was packed with flavor; 13.5% alcohol. This Garnacha was from the Demoninacion Carinena, the oldest D.O. in the Aragon region, known as “El vino de las Piedras (The Wine of the Rocks) due to its rocky and compact soil that retains water well, the soil is clay and limestone, the climate is continental with the influence of three rivers, elevation of the vineyard is 350 to 800 meters and it is the largest of all D.O.’s.
Castillo de Monseran Garnacha: This wine poured a bright ruby into the glass; aromas of soft red fruit, floral and herbaceous notes and vanilla; flavors of red cherries, plums and blackberry jam with smoke, touch of milk chocolate and vanilla; youthful and lively; well-balanced acidity and tannins, medium body and medium finish. This Garnacha was also produced in the Demoninacion Carinena.
Punto Y Seguido Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2009: This 100% Garnacha was ruby red; aromas of red berries and floral notes with smoke, licorice and cinnamon; flavors of cherries and plums wrapped around smoked paprika and nutmeg and a touch of orange zest; elegant but not complex; well balanced with round acidity and elegant tannins with a dry, lingering finish. This Garnacha was produced in Demoninacion Calatayud, which is known for its high altitude, rugged terrain and variety of soil compositions. The highest altitude vineyards are 800 to 900 meters, constant winds keep the vines dry and healthy, cool nights allow grapes to ripen slowly, preserving acidity, harvest in this region is one of the last in all of Europe!
Alto Las Pizarras del Jalon 2009: This wine poured a crimson into the glass; aromas of deep red fruit, subtle spice, hint of smoky tobacco with cloves; on the palate cherries, plums, blackberries, smoke, touch of espresso, toasted hazelnuts and vanilla; 100% Garnacha; round acidity with well-balanced tannins; medium tannins; 14% alcohol. This Garnacha was from the Demoninacion Calatayud from vines 70-100 years old in mountainside slate vineyards with 70 to 1,000 meter altitude, which gave the wine its pronounced minerality and structure.
Secastilla 2009 Vinas Del Vero: This wine poured a bright ruby into glass; aromas of bright red fruit and forest floor; on the palate it opened with concentrated fruit flavors of red cherries, black plums, black and blue berries and cranberries, along with smoke and spice box with a touch of licorice and vanilla; round well balanced acidity with elegant tannins; lingering mouth feel with a dry finish; 14.5% alcohol. This Garnacha was from the Demoninacion Somontano in the Valle de Secastilla from 100 year old Garnacha vines that were found growing among the almond and olive trees.
PdM Moncayo Garnacha 2012: This wine poured garnet with purple highlights; opened with big nose of berries, smoke, coffee and a touch of spice; on the palate it offered lots of concentrated red and black berries with spice, tobacco, and underbrush; it was assertive yet elegant with great acidity, well-balanced tannins, and a lingering finish; 14% alcohol. This Garnacha was from the Demoninacion Campo de Borja, considered the “Empire of Garnacha” with vineyards dating back to 1145 CE that crawl from the valleys of the Ebro and Huecha up the slopes of the Sierra del Moncayo. In the heart of the Iberian Range. The altitude above sea level is between 400 and 800 meters; with extreme weather conditions in the summer and winter, very little rainfall and soil that is heavy in gravel, clay, slate and limestone.
As I said we paired these wines with Texas BBQ: chopped brisket, pulled chicken, jalepeno sausage, mac & cheese, fried okra, green chile casserole, delicious buttery rolls and ended with a variety of Christmas cookies my daughter and I made when she arrived home from college. The wines paired perfectly with the meal; it was an overall delicious evening of wine and food! I recommend each of these wines. Several of these wines are widely available and are priced to share with friends and family. I encourage you to search for these wines using Wine-Searcher; Google or by ordering direct from Wines of Garnacha by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Song Selection: The song I chose to pair with these six delicious Spanish Garnacha wines is Bamboleo by Benise. Though Benise is an American guitarist, this song is a beautiful blend of two cultures I simply adore: Spain and Latin America and it well represents the spice, smoke and levels of flavor of these six Spanish Garnacha wines that you simply MUST try.
Get your own bottles of Spanish Garnacha and let me know what songs you would pair with them. Cheers!