Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Many Faces Of Garnacha And Grenache

IMG_20191231_083546_308Whether you call it Grenache or Garnacha, the grape is one of the oldest and widest planted in the world. We uncork three bottles to explore this popular grape.

From Workhorse To Wonder

As one of the world’s most popular grapes, Garnacha can be found far and wide, from Europe to the US and South Africa to Australia. The largest concentration of vineyards are found in Spain (where it is called Garnacha) and France (where it is called Grenache).

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Displaying ripe, fruity and aromatic aromas, it is often blended with other grapes that have more tannins or color. GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blends are popular across the globe. Old-vine Grenache is highly prized for its concentrated flavors. Known at one time for inexpensive, high-alcohol wines or being used mainly in blends, today winemakers are crafting expressive and unique Grenache wines.

IMG_20191128_183347_863Garnacha/Grenache is actually a family of grapes that includes Red Grenache, White Grenache (Grenache Blanc), Grey Grenache, Alicante Bouschet (Garnacha Tintorera) and Hairy Grenache. I haven’t yet tasted Hairy Grenache, which is a mutation of Red Grenache that is resistant to drought.

Getting Into Garnacha

Outstanding examples of Grenache can be found in the southern Rhône Valley and the Roussillon region in France, Australia and Spain’s Priorat region. Grenache is a popular pick for rosé wines. We recently tasted through three enjoyable bottles.

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Château Rombeau 2015 Andréa Vielle Vignes, Côtes du Roussillon -- This is a funky White Grenache that is a delight. It is a blend of 31% White Grenache, 29% Grey Grenache, 14% Marsanne, 13% Malvoisie, and 13% Vermentino. We enjoyed this with a turkey dinner and the savory notes blended perfectly. There are grapefruit highlights and peppery touches. It’s a unique glass that shows how beautiful wines with White Grenache can be.

IMG_20191217_213403Paniza 2015 Última Garnacha, Cariñena -- This is a flavor-packed full-bodied wine with deep cherry flavors and chocolate and earth flavors. The finish is long and coating. Última is a limited edition, made from the last Garnacha grapes of the season, harvested in the highest parts of the vineyard. It will make you a Garnacha believer.

Viñas del Vero 2016 La Miranda Secastilla Garnacha, Somontano -- This wine comes from the Somantano region in northern Spain at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is a blend that includes Syrah and Parraleta, a native Spanish grape. This wine has a full body with berry and plum flavors with an enjoyable earthiness.

Garnacha/Grenache is on the upswing. From 2014 to 2016, its market share has grown by 34% in terms of value. Since it’s yet to become a mainstream variety in the minds of American consumers you can easily grab a bottle for less than $25. There are many tasty options in the $15 range.

Call it Grenache or Garnacha, it’s just the wine to please your curiosity and appreciation for good wine.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

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