Grenache from Spain? Yes, Garnacha

It's one of the most widely planted red grape in the world and responsible for the velvety, voluptuous mouthfeel that people love in wine; but it rarely gets the credit it deserves because often it appears in blends rather than varietal wines. Known as Grenache in France, the origin of this is actually in Aragon, Spain, where it’s called Garnacha. We know this because recent genetic studies have found the largest number of clonal variations in Aragon, indicating a lengthy period of cultivating this vine there in the Ebro River Valley.

I encourage you to buy red wine online and try Garnacha! Spain has about 170,000 hectares of Garnacha vineyards, the most famous regions being in Aragon and Priorat in Catalunya, though you’ll even find it in Madrid!  These wines have tempting fruit aromas and flavors of strawberry, black and red cherry as well as raspberry, with notes of  tobacco, citrus zest, and cinnamon. It can be produced in a light, fruity style or with medium oak ageing. On its own the wine has medium tannins and acidity, but plenty of alcohol (13.5-16%).

Where in Spain is Garnacha grown?

One appellation of Argon producing excellent Garnacha wines is Campo de Borja, which received D.O. status in 1980. With limestone and red clay soils and just 14-18 inches of rain a year, Borja is located in the northwestern part of Zaragoza province in the zone between the Sistema Iberico mountains and the Ebro River, which also runs through the famed wine region of neighboring Rioja. Garnacha makes up for 55% of the vineyards, with numerous plants dating back to the 1890s and 50% of all vines with an age of 30-50 years. Borja wines are elegant and even feature floral aromas. Another famous Aragon region for Garnacha is D.O. Calatayud, a red wine bottle worth searching out. This appellation was created in 1989. To get started tasting Garnacha, I recommend the 2019 Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja Garnacha, which would go perfectly with a summer BBQ. The Bodegas Borsao vineyards have stony soils featuring clay, gravel, and limestone at elevations from 1,200 to 2,400 feet with eastern and western exposure. When you order wine delivery, this will set you back just $6.99 (so it’s worth ordering a case).

Another great value is the 2019 Zestos Old Vine Garnacha, from the Community of Madrid. This bodega’s Garnacha vines were planted in 1969 in the high elevation vineyards of San Martin de Valdeiglesias – northwest of Madrid city. This area is a bit cooler than Campo de Borja, so expect more structure. The winemaker notes its vivid ruby color. “Lively red and dark berry aromas show good clarity and a touch of candied flowers.” On the palate you will encounter supple texture, offering juicy black raspberry and cherry flavors given spine by a gentle mineral nuance. Best thing? It’s just $8.99 a bottle at Bottle Barn!

Finally, for a more intense Garnacha experience, pick up the 2016 Herencia Altes La Peluda. This is from one of my favorite Catalan appellations, D.O. Terra Alta.  “La Peluda” means “the hairy one” because the wine comes from a special sub-variety of Garnacha called “Garnacha Peluda.” The peluda variety was picked by hand separately from the regular variety and then fermented in stainless steel with daily remontage. Add in malolactic fermentation and aging for 10 months in new European oak and you have a truly sophisticated expression of the every-so Spanish grape.  “A juicy and chewy Mediterranean red with good freshness and integrated oak,” said Wine Advocate in awarding 91 points. Price? $18.49 at Bottle Barn, reading for shipping across the USA from the Santa Rosa wine store.

Written By: - Charlie Leary

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