Can you think of a single grape that can enjoyed as a white, rosé and red wine? One of the oldest grape varietals in the world that has spent most of its lifetime as a workhorse doing the heavy lifting in some of the world’s best blends? Only one grape can fit this bill and that grape is Garnacha (aka Grenache) and last week the world celebrated this grape on September 18th for #GarnachaDay. I was blessed to join this celebration with many fellow wine writers as sipped and shared Garnachas via Snooth’s Wines of Garnacha virtual tasting.
Garnacha is THE grape of the Mediterranean. It is grown in eastern Spain (its birthplace), southern France, Corsica, Sardegna, southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and Greece. Furthermore, Garnacha is also grown in South Africa, Australia and the United States. Garnacha is truly a global grape! Today, Garnacha is posed to share the stage as a single varietal, ready to take its place amongst Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Carmenere, and Malbec. You may recall from my article at the beginning of this year, “A Festive Night of Spanish Garnacha Wines,” that there are 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. In my article “April Winestudio The Next Great Grape: The Cariñena Garnacha,” specifically highlighted the unique Cariñena growing region and the wonderful Garnachas being produced there.
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.” As a white wine Garnacha is one of my favorite single varietals. It is often mineral driven complimented by white fruits and touch of grassy notes with round acidity. As a rosé Garnacha offers candied red fruit on the nose with soft expressions of red berries and herbs on the palate, a refreshing summer staple. Please visit the Wines of Garnacha web site to learn more about this wonderful grape.
The Snooth Wines of Garnacha virtual tasting was outstanding as usual. If you do not subscribe to Snooth or have never participated in their virtual tastings I highly recommend you sign up to receive their newsletter today! Snooth is the world’s “most comprehensive wine web site, hosts the largest online wine community and features reviews as well as local prices for millions of wines.” It is a community by wine lovers for wine lover! If you would like to watch the virtual tasting hosted by Master Sommelier and owner of Corkbuzz, Laura Maniec, with special guest, the Best Spanish Sommelier of 2014, Guillermo Cruz, who also happens to be the Somm for the 6th best restaurant in the world, Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain.
Here are my notes on the wines we enjoyed in the tasting:
Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca 2014: This wine was crafted of 100% White Garnacha from grapes grown in the Terra Alta D.O. This wine was very expressive, pale yellow with notes of white peaches, pears and fresh cut grass all on a firm backbone of minerality that persisted from nose through the lingering finish. It was smooth and light with round acidity, light intensity yet lively and intriguing. A delightful white Garnacha.12.5% alcohol.
Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2014: This 100% Garnacha came from the Cariñena D.O. Upon opening the bottle it smelled like a chocolate covered cherry; delicious! This new world style Garnacha offered sweet, fruit forward aromas with flavors of red cherries, strawberry, chocolate, and cola; round acidity, integrated tannins with a touch of dirt on the finish. It was a playful wine that Laura said had a nose of “fruit soaked in sunshine.” It was also in a new world package with Antonio the Bull offering the wine that he loves to the world; “Beso de Vino,” Kiss of Wine! 13.5% alcohol.
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2013: This 100% Garnacha came from the Calatyud D.O. This wine offered a more rustic old world feel as a great expression of the terroir and its minerality. Ruby in color this wine offered notes of red cherries, spice, toasted walnuts, dried herbs, green peppercorns and a rich minerality. It was full in the mouth with a round acidity and more pronounced tannins, full body and finish. It was fruity with a rustic touch and a concentrated palate. The consensus was this wine would be excellent with pulled pork. 15% alcohol.
Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria 2013: This 100% Garnacha came from Campo do Borja D.O. It was a beautiful expression of Garnacha that had many perplexed by its reminiscent of a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a striking deep ruby with a wonderful balance of fruit and earthiness; black raspberries, cherries, blueberries and violets were met with spice, touch of smoke with damp fresh tobacco leaves. It was layered and rich with a round acidity, slightly chewy tannins and smooth mouth-feel. It was an excellent representation of the appellation and could age for 7-8 more years. 14.5% alcohol.
Vinas del Vero Secastilla Old Vine Garnacha 2010: This 100% Garnacha came from the Somontano D.O. It was a modern style wine from vines over 100 years old. This wine was a favorite with many in the tasting. It poured a deep garnet with inviting aromas and flavors of cherries, blackberries, plums, dark chocolate, cherry cola, with additional notes of “cigar” and damp underbrush. It was full bodied with full tannins, rustic yet pleasing mouth-feel, round acidity, well-balanced with a lingering dry finish. A fantastic food wine! 14% alcohol.
At the conclusion of the Snooth Wines of Garnacha virtual tasting I have now enjoyed 17 different 100% Garnachas from the 5 Protected Designations of Origin in Spain. Each of these wines was unique, expression and individual. Garnacha is known to be the most versatile grape in the world and I concur. If you like old world wines there are Garnachas for you. If you like new world wines there are Garnachas for you. If you like a wine to sip and enjoy there are Garnachas for you. If you like a wine that is classically food friendly there are Garnachas for you. Garnacha is a like your favorite Labrador, it is friendly, easy to get along with and pleases everyone. So don’t wait till next #GarnachaDay to enjoy this wonderful wine, make it a part of your weekly wine enjoyment immediately!
Friday night we paired our Garnachas with Braised Beef Short Rib Bourguignon for a wonderful dinner. Saturday night we paired the left over Garnachas with lamb gyros for another great night of food and wine. Head to your favorite wine retailer and pick up some Garnacha today!
My Song Selection: I have selected a song to pair with this great tasting that I feel captures the relaxed, smooth nature of these wines while demonstrating their unique style with just a touch of funk.
Get your own bottle of Garnacha and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!