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The Garnacha Grape

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About Garnacha

(Synonyms: Abundante, Aleante, Aleantedi Rivalto, Aleante Poggiarelli, Alicant Blau, Alicante, Alicante Grenache, Aragones, Bois Jaune, Cannonaddu, Cannonadu Nieddu, Cannonau, Cannonau Selvaggio, Canonazo, Carignane rosso, Elegante, Francese, Gamay del Trasimeno, Garnaccho negro, Garnacha Comun, Garnacha negra, Garnacha Roja, Garnacha tinta, Garnatxa negra, Garnatxa Pais, Gironet, Granaccia, Granaxa, Grenache noir, Grenache rouge, Kek Grenache, Lladoner, Mencida, Navaro, Navarra, Navarre de la Dordogne, Navarro, Negru Calvese, Ranconnat, Red Grenache, Redondal, Retagliadu Nieddu, Rivesaltes, Roussillon Tinto, Roussillon, Rouvaillard, Sans Pareil, Santa Maria de Alcantara, Tentillo, Tintella, Tintilla, Tinto Menudo, Tinto Navalcarnero, Tocai rosso, Toledana, Uva di Spagna)

Background

Garnacha grapes Map showing lands under the Crown of Aragon

Garnacha is a red-wine grape originating in the Aragon region of northern Spain; from there, it was early on spread through the regions under the Aragonese realm, including southern France, whence it spread widely. Today, the grape—known by a plethora of names, but most commonly as either Garnacha (the name we use here) or Grenache—is extensively grown more or less throughout the wine-making world; Spain and France remain the chief suppliers, but the U.S. and Australia have growing reputations for the grape.

Curiously, it is only in modern times that Garnacha has climbed out of the status of a mediocre workhorse grape to that which it enjoys today, that of an eminent varietal. Garnacha can be bottled as a monovarietal, but in the Old World (as is of often the case) it is most used as an element of regional blends. In Spain, it is often blended with Tempranillo; in France, it is a key part of Rhône red blends.

Garnacha by nature is low in phenolics, and so tends toward lightness of color and body and low tannins. As usually vinified, a monovarietal Garnacha will be intended for early consumption, as it has a distinct tendency toward early oxidization. But when grown and vinified with suitable care, it can produce dense, chewy, powerful wines that will indeed cellar well.

The typical flavors of Garnachas are red fruit (strawberry/raspberry), tending in better specimens toward darker fruit (black cherry, blackcurrant) and complex overtones, often described as coffee, olive, honey, leather, tar, spice, and black pepper. In essence, there is a rather broad spectrum of wines, from simple early-drinkers to ageworthy and complex champions. Some remarkable quality-for-price bargains are readily available, especially from Spain.

Factoid: Garnacha has several related mutant grapes, some of which are valuable in their own right, including interalia Grenache Blanc Grenache Rose, and Grenache Gris; it is also a parent (with Cabernet Sauvignon) of the modern cross Marselan.


Some Descriptions of Garnacha Wines

  • Wikipedia

    "The characteristic notes of Grenache are berry fruit such as raspberries and strawberries. When yields are kept in check, Grenache-based wines can develop complex and intense notes of blackcurrants, black cherries, black olives, coffee, gingerbread, honey, leather, black pepper, tar, spices, and roasted nuts. When yields are increased, more overtly earthy and herbal notes emerge that tend to quickly fade on the palate. The very low-yielding old vines of Priorat can impart dark black fruits and notes of figs and tar with many traits similar to the Italian wine Amarone. Rosado or rosé Grenaches are often characterized by their strawberry and cream notes while fortified vin doux nautrels and Australian "port style" wines exhibits coffee and nutty tawny-like notes."

  • Wine Folly

    "The unmistakable candied fruit roll-up and cinnamon flavor is what gives Grenache away to expert blind tasters. It has a medium to full weight in taste, but has a deceptively lighter color and is semi-transulcent. Depending on where it’s grown, Grenache often lets off strong smells of orange rinds and ruby-red grapefruit. When Grenache is grown in Old World regions such as Côtes du Rhône and Sardinia, it can have herbal notes of dried oregano and tobacco."

  • Jancis Robinson

    "The wine it produces [in Spain] can be much softer and jammier than the well structured, deeper-coloured Tempranillo, but it doesn't have to be. Provided yields are restricted, and particularly if vines are relatively mature, Garnacha can produce some alluring rich, spicy reds in northern Spain . .  But what has most dramatically revived Garnacha's reputation in Spain is the intense, minerally top wines grown on the schists of Priorat where ancient Garnacha bushvines provide the backbone of many of the greatest wines. . . Grenache is ideally suited to being grown as a water-seeking bushvine in hot, windy areas, its only disadvantage being its predeliction to set relatively little fruit. But that, of course, means all the more flavour in the grapes that remain."

  • Total Wine

    "Grenache is an alluring red-grape variety known for its abundance of red-fruit flavors, which include currant, cherry and raspberry. These same flavors dominate the aroma. Grenache (gren-AHSH) produces light- to medium-bodied reds with intense fruit and soft tannins, but is primarily used in blends throughout southern Rhône. Grenache is the principal grape used in making the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the amazing rosés of the South of France. It is also responsible for the tremendous red in Côstières de Nîmes and thrives in Spain, where it is called Garnacha."

  • Professional Friends of Wine

    "The grenache grape is relatively low in both pigment and malic acid, and oxidizes readily. Although some 100% varietal wines are produced from grenache, particularly in Spain's Rioja and from some "old vines" plantings in California, it is mostly used to "fill out" red blends and soften harsher partners, such as syrah and carignan. Prior to the establishment of France's AOC, Burgundy's "dirty little secret" was that Grenache, grown in the Rhône Valley, often contributed flavorful appeal to save the sometimes thin and weak Pinot Noir. On its own, grenache can make fleshy, heady wines with lots of fruit appeal in their youth. They tend to age rapidly, however, showing tawny colors and prone to oxidation or maderization after only a relatively short time in bottle. The general character and mouthfeel of Grenache wines are more distinctive and identifyable than any particular aromas or flavors."

  • The Wine Cellar Insider

    "Grenache wines age well, according to the most important consultant working in Chateauneuf du Pape today. Philippe Cambie on Grenache – At its best, Grenaches must express the black fruit, cherry, licorice and especially a beautiful oiliness. The wines can be kept for 20 years, and always keep these notes of spice and white pepper. . . With many Grenache based wines, tasters often experience flavors of kirsch, fresh black or white cherries, jammy strawberries, black raspberries, spice, black pepper, cherry griotte, plums and fresh herbs. The texture ranges from elegant and silky to a more rustic expression depending on the soil, levels of ripeness and other choices made by the wine maker and of course the terroir and the soils the Grenache vines are planted in."

  • Wine Searcher

    "Produced as varietal wine, Grenache exhibits rich, spicy, berry flavors, particularly raspberry."

  • SFGate

    "At its best, Grenache [in California] can do [evince both power and delicacy] with grace and charm. More than that: It can be a grape to reconcile those two often warring sets of taste. It rewards all who seek. It is a Rorschach test for flavor."

  • About.com

    "Garnacha wines tend to be quite fruit-filled with an interesting mix of strawberry, blackberry and raspberry flavors followed by a dash of peppery spice. "


Some Garnachas to Try

(About this list.)

The biggest problem, really, was elimination. There are so many Garnachas from Spain at ludicrously low prices—so low they might scare away a potential buyer as signifying the plonkiest of plonk—that get multiple enthusiastic tasting reviews. The competition from other nations shows few recommended wines below our (arbitrary) cutoff point of $20, so this list is dominated by those bargin Spanish Garnachas. In fact, we had to hunt to find one each of an Ausralian, an American, and a French wine to round things out.

Sometimes we have to really hunt to find a sufficiency of reviews of this or that wine. But for each of these wines there was a huge parade, and we could easily have doubled each set of quotations (and all about equally fulsome. These are some popular wines indeed!

The quotations below are excerpts; we strenuously urge you to click on the green diamond symbol by each quoted review to see the full article.
  • Bodegas Zabrin Ateca Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines, $6 - $15.

    Some quotations and facts:

    Color: Opaque, violet, gloppy-legged blackberry juice…What a color. The only clue that it was Garnacha (which is usually much lighter): the color lightened to a cherry or raspberry color at the rim. The wine was definitely made of some very ripe grapes to give it all that color. Smell: With raspberry and black cherry with lots of pepper, black licorice, and cinnamon spice, this was a wine with an opinion. There was a sweet oaky smell and there was a floral bouquet thing going on too. The prodigious alcohol in the wine was apparent: it burned the inside my nose. That burn and the other scents gave an impression of hot spicy fruitiness. Taste: So textural — you feel an alcohol burn that’s warm, prickly and tingly. It’s almost like drinking brandy, which I normally don’t love in a wine, but given the rich fruit and spice the sensation reminded me of a yummy liqueur and I loved it. Raspberry, blueberry, and plum with licorice or anise (a spice that’s like a mild licorice) balanced the prickly texture from the acid and alcohol. There was a little bitter almond flavor too. The warmth from the alcohol, cinnamon, and the carmelized berry flavor made the wine like liquid pie. It fills your mouth with deliciousness. . . For $8 this wine drinks like $20 and it’s such a guilty pleasure. Is it the most complex wine around? No, but it’s a tasty treat and all the rich, ripe fruit makes it a decadent, unbelievably yummy wine.

    On the nose, this wine shows ripe black fruits: black raspberry and prune, with a touch of eucalyptus, pepper, and a smidgeon of earth. The palate offers a silky smooth texture, warm black raspberry, black cherry, and plum, with a touch of spice – maybe vanilla? Acidity and tannins are medium, appropriate for food but not so high that they’re overbearing when this wine is drunk by itself. Drink it with burgers, skirt steaks, cheese, tacos. At around eight bucks or less, this is a very good value.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 92 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 87 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (September/October 2013), 91 points.

    Opaque ruby. Ripe blackberry and boysenberry aromas are complemented by deeper-pitched notes of mocha and licorice. At once rich and lively, offering vibrant dark fruit preserve flavors and a kick of peppery spices. Smooth, seamless and sweet on the very persistent finish, which leaves notes of blueberry and espresso behind.

    Bright purple. Ripe dark berries and cracked pepper on the nose. Smooth and broad on entry, then tighter in the mid-palate, offering tangy blackberry and bitter cherry flavors and a hint of licorice. Sweeter on the finish, with the cherry and licorice notes echoing. This is an amazing value.

    Taste: I can definitely taste the oak with is nice spicy bouquet. It is jammy and fruity in a rich, full-bodied way. The taste is fairly balanced and not overly tannic, or sour. Alcohol Content: 14.5%. Color: Very dark, deep purple-red, almost an eggplant shade. Rating: 5 stars! It’s low in cost, high in alcohol content, and a good, complex taste – and easy to drink. What more can you want for under $10?!

    In the village of Calatayud, very old, dry-farmed bush vines produce spicy red wines of great power and depth at bargain-basement prices. Served at room temperature, meaty Spanish garnachas like this one can be hard to drink in warm weather, seeming overly alcoholic and a little harsh. But, 10 minutes in the fridge, or a couple of ice cubes in the glass, can tame their fiery burn and brighten their jammy strawberry flavors.

    A bit of smokiness on the nose is balanced by berry aromas of blackberry and blueberry. Smooth flavors of spice, vanilla, and raspberry have a nice finish of subtle tannins that make this wine enjoyable by itself or with a variety of different meals from pizza to a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak. . . The smokiness on the nose wasn’t overpowering, but was enough to mellow out the flavors of ripe berry and lead very nicely into the subtle tannins on the finish. Perfect with a pepperoni pizza after grocery shopping, this is a great wine for anybody looking to dip their toes in the Spanish wine pool. Definitely going to be a repeat buy.

    this consistently excellent wine is make from garnacha grapes (the Spanish name for the grenache grape used in France’s Rhone Valley and Languedoc winemaking regions). The grapes are from vines that are 65 to 85 years old, which is reputed to yield richer, more complex wine than grapes from younger vines. . . A glass-coating opaque purple color, it offers up aromas of pure black cherries and violets, wrote Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller in the June 2011 issue. Dense on the palate and remarkably rich for its humble price, this great value over-delivers big-time. He called it a great value at $8 a bottle and expects “this pleasure-bent effort” to drink well over the next three to four years. Garnacha de Fuego has earned between 87 and 89 points from Wine Advocate in the six consecutive vintages from 2005 to the current 2010. And it scored between 88 and 91 points from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar from 2006 through 2009, the most recent vintage it’s reviewed. That’s the type of consistency that made Garnacha de Fuego a contender for our Top 5 Spanish red wine values.

    The old vines of Bodegas Breca produce a bold crimson red garnacha wine of considerable concentration, full-bodied with intense flavors of blueberries, black cherries and plums, moderate tannins and spicy notes of black pepper on the finish.

    For around $8 a bottle, you can't beat the flavors represented here: ripe plum, black cherry, with a touch of spice. It's exceptionally smooth, with just enough pepper to keep it interesting. I even taste a little vanilla in this one.


  • Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Carinena, $6 - $16.

    Some quotations and facts:

    I marvel at the quality for the money. Medium bodied, with floral, dark fruits and a background rounded out with oak aging. There's a meatiness and balance to this wine that one wouldn't associate with this price point. Ripe and juicy with a dry permeating finish. A total crowd pleaser, from the cab-set to the french-only drinkers, this one has wide ranging appeal and would pair well with roasted anything.

    A deeply translucent black red in colour, there's a spicy edge to the rich raspberry and blueberry fruit flavours with thick textured grainy tannins and a pleasing touch of vanillin oak. A weightier wine, sweeter on the palate with a touch of chocolate and a savoury earthiness balancing the fruitiness on the lingering finish, this wine, which has had 12 months in new oak, is good value.

    Our favorite wine pairing of the evening was the Castillo de Monseran Garnacha, ‘09! What a pleasure to drink! Composed of 100% Garnacha from the Cariñena D.O. in Aragon (about a 3 hour drive southeast of Rioja), the Castillo de Monserran is chock full of bright red cherry and red plum fruits, with good energy and very good persistence, especially given the humble price tag.

    A buy-it-by-the-case gem, consistent and delicious. This Garnacha packs a lot of oomph into each bottle - it oozes plush raspberry and blueberry jam aromas with chocolate, cola spices, sarsaparilla and rose petals. A supple palate lends itself well to generous berry flavours wrapped in mocha, floral and blueberry tea. It is fresh and smooth and gulp-able. A wine for most grilled foods or game day fare but also for pizza, red sauced pasta and more traditional tapas. 89 Points.

    2010 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena has aromas of tobacco, plum, and cherries. The palate is smooth with flavors of berries, cherries, and a hint of spice. Simple, clean flavors that are easy to sip with casual fare (think pizza or sirloin). A decent wine for a very fair price!

    Sometimes simple pleasures really are the best. Take the Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena ($9). Like many Spanish reds, it's light, bright and jammy, not terribly complex but providing beams of red fruit across the palate. The smoothness and balance make it a nice choice for any season and a delightful companion to roast chicken and/or root vegetables.

    The wine is clear and bright, deep garnet core, with quick legs noted. On the nose, it’s clean, with medium intense aromas of ripe and jammy black fruit (black currant and blackberry, black plum), black licorice, tar and some baking spice (clove, cinnamon). A developing wine. On the palate, it’s dry with medium acidity, soft, ripe tannins, medium alcohol, medium plus body and medium plus flavour characteristics of the same black fruit apparent on the nose (ripe blackberries, cassis and Damson plums turning ever-so-slightly to prunes and raisins), with some chocolate and even a little green herbaceous quality (cedar). The finish is medium. A solidly ‘good’ wine, drink now or may be kept for 2-3 years. As the price point is very reasonable (about $13-16 depending on the store), no need to keep it. Enjoy now and often, especially with charcuterie and meat dishes. Easy to imbibe and enjoy, reasonably good balance between fruit, acidity and a simple, yet pleasing complexity.

    The color is an attractive deep ruby. Very pleasant fruit aromas and flavors--dark cherry, red plums and flowers. An unusually broad range of spicy aromas, soft but intense and lively. Not at all sweet but a finish that brings you back for more. Reminds me of old fashioned Cotes du Rhone wines from the early 1980s.

    The aromas of this wine are very fruity (berry aromas of strawberry, raspberries and blackberries) and on first introduction on your palate there are some fairly well balanced fruit along with oaky tastes. Though not a full-bodied wine, it has a much earthier boldness than a lot of Grenaches and a nice finish. It is a great every day table wine. My one drawback to note as is that as with most Spanish wines, the bottles have corks and we have come across several bottles when we purchased a case of this wine that were bad. Carpe Diem – as with reward there is some element of risk!

    In my never-ending quest to find the best values at the LCBO, I recently came across this superbly approachable, well-crafted Grenache from a distinguished Bergerac winemaker. Sourced from high-quality, old vines, this sumptuous red is medium-bodied, juicy, abundantly flavorful and terrifically balanced. A surefire hit at an unbeatable price!

    Textbook grenache with its uncomplicated red fruit, this wine is not overly concentrated, not overly tart. There's nothing wrong with this wine, if you grant that simplicity is sometimes a virtue. Served at cellar temperature, this is a perfect wine for a summer evening on the front porch. This has been one of my frequent case buys. At $7-8/bottle, this wine rates a solid B/B+, making for a big QPR.


  • Altovinium Evodia Old Vines Garnacha, $7 - $10.
         ($7.84 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Why can't more wine regions—particularly California—make wines like Altovinum's Evodia Old Vines Garnacha Calatayud 2011? It has lively raspberry aromas with hints of lead pencil and grilled herb plus flavors that are lively and ripe, but balanced with minerally acidity. The suggested retail is $10, but it often sells for less. I gave it 88 points, non-blind, on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale.



    ♣ Wine Advocate (date unknown), 89 Points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (September/October 2013), 90 Points.

    Vivid purple. Powerful aromas of blueberry, blackberry, woodsmoke and Indian spices. Displays supple, open-knit flavors of smoky dark berries, bitter chocolate and candied flowers. Seductive right now, with a sweet floral pastille element carrying through a long, smoky, tannin-free finish. An amazing value.

    This is the third vintage we have reviewed and now all three have been Bulk Buy [recommendations]. . . The 2011 Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha begins with a lovely aroma featuring rich blackberry and blueberry fruit, cola, spice, licorice and pepper. Tasting this smooth and delicious wine reveals a ton of savory fruit and nice spice. It is also loaded with great mineral notes, more so than the previous couple of vintages. Just as in the past, the finish is long and spicy. My first thought after tasting this new vintage was simply that this wine is money as it once again drinks like a whole lot more than $8.

    What a scrumptiously fun wine from Spain! It’s made from garnacha, also known as grenache, and it proudly struts that grape’s spicy, strawberry and raspberry flavors with notes of dried thyme. It’s warm and plush in the mouth, finishing with soft tannins. Both the 2011 and 2012 vintages are available in the market. The 2011 is mellow; the 2012 is a bit more concentrated. Evodia is a lot of wine for the price. The combination of round fruit and soft tannins makes it a suitable companion for a bowl of spicy venison chili or a juicy burger. The wine hails from the Calatayud region of Spain, which claims the highest garnacha vineyards in the country. Higher altitude means cooler temperatures, resulting in wines that are fresh and vibrant, such as this Evodia.

    I was actually blown away by this wine, especially on the second day. This is a big bold, fruit forward wine with kick ass tannins and a nice supple mouth feel. After decanting for 24 hours the wine showed no signs of weakening and actually the mid palate opened up to reveal more complexity, a nice mineral component. This is a straight forward, well made wine. Not terribly complex but for less than $10 this is a ridiculous deal. Rating: 93 points

    In the glass: Evodia is a deep crimson-red color with purplish streaks, a purple to pink rim with medium-high viscosity. On the nose: The wine is full of pure extracted crushed peppery black fruit, ripe blueberries, boysenberry sauce and spicy vanilla extract from oak, then notes of new American oak by itself, soft jammy berry components and a touch of smoke, licorice root and earthy minerals underlying. On the palate: Evodia is big and spicy, then juicy in the mouth with nicely complex, concentrated chewy blackberry fruit, licorice root, crushed brambleberries, pepper-laced minerals, and then soft, almost chewy, tannins going into a superbly balanced midpalate that is smooth around the mouth, although retains a sense of freshness from the relatively forward acidity. The deep fruity finish has a nice mouth-feel that lasts for 20-plus seconds, and shows why wines made from Old Vines are profound to taste, from a concentration point of view.

    Evodia pours a deep ruby in the glass. The nose is intriguing with aromas of blackberries, dark cherries, and coffee with mineral undertones. The wine is incredibly smooth and rich. The palate is bursting with dark berries and finishes with a hint of spice. An incredible find for the price. Grab a case and drink regularly! My Wine Rating- A-

    The big, chewy berry flavors and spice with low tannins develops an amazingly drinkable wine that does not need food to shine. We like Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha Calatayud 2007 Spain for its prominent big blackberries and blueberries plus that little bit of anise that hits your nose upon first sip. A little mix of the berry and black pepper linger with a comfortably dry finish. Its just asking for you to drink more...on its own, with a smoked pork dish or, if you want to keep with its origin, paella and bacon wrapped dates. You can’t afford not to drink this, plus we like the label's style.

    Dark purple with ruby highlights, aromas of wildflowers mingled with fresh blueberries. Plush blackberry and cherry flavors crammed the medium to full body, although not on the sweet side of fruity. The emphasis is really on the spiciness, lots of bold crushed black peppercorn. There’s enough berry juiciness and soft tannins to round out the flavor and add balance. It’s a wonderful, straightfoward wine great on its own or with spicy dishes. I’ll supplement my comments with the fact that every time I buy this wine, either the sommelier type person or the checkout person will inevitably tell me what a phenomenal deal this bottle is, and how other customers have been raving about it. Follow-up report: Delightfully very much the same as the 2009 vintage, with the addition of a fresh, herbaceous anise element. Just as bold and spicy, with lovely bright fruit flavours in the medium to full body and traces of smoke on the lengthy finish. In spite of its 15% alcohol, it’s easy drinking and a downright fantastic value overall.

    Evodia’s like a very exotic Spanish girl that smells delicious. You know girls that just smell like they taste good? Yeah, that’s Evodia. She has a great full body. Her perfume is roses and black cherry, and she’s making you one of her blueberry mochas. Blueberry freaking mocha! Of course you *have* to taste her now. And it’s just as you imagined – she is silky, juicy and savory – just as you would expect from an exotic Spanish chick. She’s also spicy and a little peppery, and her kiss leaves you with just a touch of sweetness. She’s silkier and much more easy-going than her sister (the 2008 we reviewed here).

    For the past few years, the Altovinum Evodia Old Vines Garnacha has been my hands down choice for accessible and affordable Spanish Garnacha. And the 2010 vintage is no exception! Alluring scents of white chocolate persist long after the bottle is opened, allowing the Evodia to tempt most any consumer back for a second glass. Yet, the one thing I think Evodia most has going for it is its ability to effortlessly play the roll of the prototypical all-weather red wine. Its successful run of back to back to back vintages is remarkable in and of itself, but throw in the fact that the bottle price is holding steady at around $10 and the success is even more staggering. You’ll love Evodia’s plum and blackberry essence, just bear in mind that it totes a huge 15% alcohol by volume.


  • Lurra Garnacha, $7 - $13.
    (Do not confuse this wine with their rosado rosé from the same grape.)
         ($8.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    Blackberry, plum and spice. This garnacha sees no oak aging and is simply fermented in stainless steel so that it is a pure expression of its terroir. The wine is fresh and lively with a great concentration of blackberries and ripe plums along with some subltle earth and spice characteristics.

    Most garnacha wines from Spain are high in alcohol. This one, clocking in at only 13.5 ABV, is light ruby red in color and easy to drink. Delicate nose of tart cherries, followed by a taste of berries and a peppery finish. Sipping on a glass of this is like nibbling away at a handful of just-picked wild raspberries.

    The wine has a violet center with a garnet rim. Root vegetables and red fruit blend in an odd but fairly pleasant nose and deliver in a layered and spicy palate with a light finish. Drinking This Wine: This is okay for a sipping wine and would go well with mild rice dishes or stew. Overall Impression: This is a pleasant and versatile wine for under fifteen dollars. It is a good value.

    The Lurra Garnacha 2011 (Navarra, Spain) $8 [Very Good] is (to date) the best wine value of 2012. It is not super-concentrated, but has exemplary freshness, balance, and varietal character. Apparently "Lurra" means earth or terroir in Basque, and this wine does show its origins, a real feat for an $8 bottle. Medium bright ruby/violet in color, the bouquet is very fresh, focused, fruity and lively. Aromas of sour cherry, black cherry, dark berry liqueur, stones, and garrigue-like herbs are very attractive and fairly complex. Medium bodied with lively acidity and light gritty tannins, the flavors feature a strong smoky/mineral element, bright cherry and black berry fruit, and nice savory herbal notes. The flavors are very well focused, with some complexity, but not overly concentrated. The finish of the Lurra is harmonious with good length. This wine is a steal.


  • Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha, $8 - $12.
         ($14.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    It’s a mouthful, and I suspect the sheer weight of this wine, combined with the decent price, is what makes it such a crowd-pleaser. At 15-per-cent alcohol, it’s certainly ripe, with notes of prune and raisin mingling with fresh plum on a smooth texture. Yet there’s lively spice to keep it dancing on the palate. 87 points.

    Deep ruby red. Gorgeous nose with strawberry, cherry, and dusty notes. Loads of red cherry, dust, spice, and a hint of earth on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with good complexity and a long, lingering finish. Quality: 4 stars (out of 5); QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

    Very bright red fruits, straightforward, not incredibly complex, but well-balanced. High acid and good minerality make a very food-friendly wine. Cherries and cranberries are the lead fruits with some raspberry showing on the mid-palate along with a very light herbal touch. This is a red wine for chicken, but stick with the dark meat. Recommended.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (June 2011), 90 points.

    Bright violet color. Dark berry and cherry aromas and flavors show liqueur-like character. Warm, spicy and fleshy, with good finishing breadth and gentle tannins. Plenty of fruit here, and just enough spiciness to keep the slightly jammy fruit in check

    The 2009 Las Rocas is 100% Garnacha sourced from 80-year-old vines from the DO of Calatayud, Spain with 25% of the wine aged in wood. It is a forward, savory, ripe, succulent offering. Deep ruby colour. Attractive aromas of kirsch, raspberries, pepper and melted liquorice. Intense concentration of fruit. Medium to full bodied wine with a sumptuously-textures and long aftertaste. This wine is a personal favorite, easily quaffable and a great addition to laissez-faire Saturday evenings.

    As you drink the Garnacha, you will discover dark cherry, and blackberry, with that light oak on the palate. This is an enjoyable wine not only with the traditional meat dishes, but also goes well with stronger cheeses.

    It is a forward, savory, ripe, succulent offering that should prove to be a crowd-pleaser. It is an outstanding value that will deliver enjoyment over the next 5 years.

    The 2009 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha begins with aromas of ripe dark fruit like blackberry and black cherry plus a little licorice and even a few hints of banana. The wine tastes very smooth, silky and easy to drink. The primary flavors are blackberry again along with a good dose of oak. . . The fruit flavors focus nicely on the finish and are followed by a burst of spice. Add in some chewy, dry tannins that last for a good long time and we've got a winner.

    This fleshy red offers an expressive mix of dried cherry, licorice, cola, clove and vanilla flavors. Features some density, gentle acidity and just enough tannins for grip.

    This wine is the top of my list of wines that I suspect Parker gets a "special" taste of when he's doing his notes. Either that or it has some element to it that he loves, because he always scores it very very high and I've tried a few vintages and get nothing from it at all. Cellartracker shows that few of it's tasters get much out of it either.

    Deep ruby color, with peppery cherry blasts on the nose. There is also a smokiness to the bouquet which contrasts the cherry well. Bitter tobbaco opening, with more complex tannins showing through in the mid-palate. Softer than most smoky/peppery wines which makes this definitely more enjoyable in my opinion. Nice long finish which bring out black fruits, plum and blackberry yet somehow keep their sweetness at bay. Thoroughly enjoyable.

    Very noticeable blackberry, blueberry and pomegranate taste. I detect some sour apple and lime. I can also taste various other flavors which I am unable to explain due to lack of words to compare them with. The wine has a minute smoky flavor to it which might sound gross but is actually goes pretty well with the overall body. After decanting this wine for 45 minutes, the alcohol flavor is minimal. This is a good wine, not the best Spanish wine I’ve had but still worth the price. I give this an 8.5/10.

    This [2008 vintage] is great quality Spanish wine plain and simple. While it lacks the subtle charms that made the 2007 vintage a hit (90pts Wine Advocate) it is warm, deep and delicious. I smell wine as much as I drink wine and this one has plenty to offer on its beautiful nose. Rich red fruits like blackberry and raspberry segue into huge pepper and black licorice. I cannot stress how great this thing smells. The deeper you inhale the more you feel you are scrying some secret hidden beneath its ruby surface, long forgotten to time and always just out of reach. Ya, it’s that good. On the palate this wine is a wonderful pepper bomb. Pepper first, followed by those red fruits and licorice notes before ending with slightly too much alcohol. This wine will only get better with age however and at a retail of around $9 it’s hard to beat.

    Straight from up and coming Spanish appellation, Calatayud, this is 100% Garnacha that is a category killer in this price range. With fleshy and ripe dark fruit that is supported by good bones (structure), this is a very accessible crowd pleaser. And at this price, it should be snatched up whenever and wherever you see it. I poured this recently along with another Garnacha from Cotes du Rhone at a friend’s party. There were some seriously happy faces. And seriously surprised expressions when I revealed the price! Always gratifying. Rated **1/2

    Spanish winemaker Yolanda Diaz oversees the making of this 100 per cent garnacha from 70-year-old vines in Zaragoza. It’s packed with sweet raspberry-plum fruit and aromas of roses and pepper. It’s medium-weight, creamy, hot and a touch sweet.


  • Punto Y Coma Castillo De Maluenda Garnacha, $8 - $12.
         ($8.24 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    The 2009 Punto y Coma Old Vine Garnacha by Castillo de Maluenda is a bit shy on the nose when first poured but opens fairly quickly with a little time in the glass. The primary aromas are black cherry, plums, raisins, a little spice and a hint of black pepper -- very nice. This full-bodied wine tastes simply delicious with lots of rich and sweet fruit, wonderful spice, and a great mouthfeel. A little licorice and some mineral notes come out near the finish, which is dry and features more sweet fruit and spice that lingers in the mouth for quite a long time. Yum! Another amazing deal on a Spanish Garnacha under $10 that'll humble wines more than twice its price. The Calatayud strikes again!

    This is a macho, burly Garnacha -- a varietal that, if anything, I would typically liken to a fleshy, voluptuous woman. Vibrant, pure-refracting dark ruby. The first night it was very closed and showed highly extracted scents of scorched earth virtually overshadowing the raspberry fruit. Night two it mellowed, and the fruit came more to the fore: lots of tight, crunchy crushed raspberries poured over a powdery mass of freshly-pulverized stones. Loads of micro-tannin coat the mouth in the back half of the palate. The finish is all stones. Good acids too. This wine actually needs a couple of years, during which the tannins and angularity should mellow and the fruit should move forward even more. Very unique style of Grenache. B+.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (June 2011), 90 points.

    Castillo de Maluenda's 2009 Punto y Coma is 100% Garnacha sourced from 40-year-old estate vineyards that spent 9 months in French oak. Fragrant black cherries and creme de cassis aromas frame a sweet, succulent, forward offering that will deliver pleasure over the next 8 years. Rated as "An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character."

    This Garnacha from Bodega Castillo de Maluenda may be some of the most delicious stuff you’ve had in a long while (and it’s only $10!). . . This 2009 Garnacha opens softly but quickly becomes more intense with big black and red fruit like black cherry and plum. It has a long, sweet and smooth finish with licorice and clove spice that lovingly lingers. This is complex, full-bodied and should age beautifully. Sourced from 100% Garnacha (Grenache) 40-year-old grapes and then aged for 9 months in French oak barrels. If you like big reds, this is for you. Regardless of price, this is an excellent wine. This is a steal around $10. A steal. If you can find it, grab it and run. If you can run with a case on your back. Otherwise you might want to get a cart… Enjoy!

    Made of 100% Garnacha grapes sourced from 40-year-old vines, this is a great wine to serve a crowd. Savoury & rustic with aromas of dusty red fruit, black licorice, leather and spice that follow through on the palate with the addition of cedar, black pepper, cherry, rosemary/mint herbs, leather, raisin, black berry. A great wine for hearty stews and roasted meats, at this price, pick up a case and serve at dinner parties throughout the holidays.

    [A] wine to buy by the case and tuck away for the spring. There is a slightly off putting jammy note at first, but how quickly the aromas of treacle, black tea, black cherry and blackcurrant take over is amazing. It has dark and red fruit flavours, great acidity, the right amount of oak, and a gentle layer of tannin that should soon disappear.

    This Old Vines Grenache comes from a sub-region of Aragon in the central eastern region of Spain. It is dominated by deep dark fruit with black cherry and plum backed up by spicy and herbal notes, solid tannic structure, good acidity and firm dry grip on the finish.


  • Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, $11 - $16.

    Some quotations and facts:

    The 2010 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha begins with a very strong aroma featuring lots of savory, ripe berry fruit (mainly raspberry, blueberry and blackberry) as well as licorice, dried herbs, spice and even a hint of chocolate. My first though on tasting this full-bodied wine was simply, "Yum!". You'll find loads of rich, concentrated, juicy, savory, berry fruit with nice overtones of smoked meat, pepper, oak and spice. Fine, sweet tannins and good acidity round out this tasty and ever so succulent wine. The finish is dry and long and features spicy mineral notes underneath more savory rich fruit that turns a bit tart at the end. Wonderful!

    Made with old-vine garnacha grapes, this wine shows juicy raspberry, blackberry and cherry flavors, with a touch of smoke, herbs and spice. “It’s smooth, easy-drinking and delicious. It’s got clean flavors and nice acidity, which makes it food friendly,” Anderson [of the Dallas Morning News Wine Panel] said. “It’s nicely balanced and fantastic for the price.” Luscher noted that the peppery component of the lamb complemented the wine’s fruitiness. Flynn liked the minty character that the wine brought out in the lamb. At $12, this wine is a terrific value.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (October 2012), 92 points.

    ♣ International Wine Cellar (November 2011), 91 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (April 2012), 90 points; #67 on Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2006.

    One of my favorite offerings from the Bodegas Borsao is the 6,000-case cuvee of the 2010 Tres Picos. Made from 100% Garnacha aged in equal parts stainless steel and French oak, this is the Bodegas Borsao’s interpretation of Chateauneuf du Pape. (But when’s the last time you saw a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape priced at $17 – about 30 years ago?) Deep notes of roasted herbs, sweet black cherries and raspberries, peppers and spice soar from the glass of this dark ruby/purple-tinged wine. Full-bodied, rich, ripe, silky textured, pure and long, this unbelievable value should drink well for 3-4 years.

    Glass-staining purple. Lively, faintly medicinal aromas of cherry, blueberry and licorice, plus hints of smoky herbs and flowers. Juicy and expansive, offering sweet, deeply pitched bitter cherry and dark berry flavors supported by a taut spine of acidity and fine-grained tannins. Finishes with powerful spicy thrust and suggestions of candied flowers and woodsmoke. This could pass for a northern Rhone wine, and a really good one at that.

    This rich red is brimming with raspberry jam, chocolate, licorice and wild herb flavors. Firm tannins are well-integrated and buoyed by orange peel acidity. A lively modern style.

    This wonderful Garnacha (Grenache) has a dark ruby, almost purple hue to its day-bright appearance. The nose doesn’t come across as super intense/in your face, but it is more graceful and elegant with aromas of juicy blackberry, and hints of under ripe strawberries. Once this wine opens up a bit in the glass the more pronounced aromas of this youthful wine jump out; loads of leather, cedar and white flowers with a touch of white pepper at the end. The palate is surprisingly soft with round, supple tannins. Creamy vanilla explodes all over your tongue with nuances of little white flowers and white pepper with just a touch of dark fruit at the back. I was pleasantly surprised by this wine because I was expecting something much more big and bold. I had a preconceived notion about wines from Spain all being big and in your face with loads of oak and spice. The soft, creamy texture of this wine broke down that ‘proverbial’ wall quite nicely! My friend and I decanted this wine for about 30 minutes at a temperature of about 23˚ C (73.4˚ F) initially, but then chilled the wine by sitting outside for a while. I noticed that bringing the temperature of this wine down opened up a lot more floral and black/blueberry tones. The creaminess maintained throughout but the vanilla notes also opened up dramatically, the cooler this wine became.

    Ruby color with red fruit, leather and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and supple with medium acidity and strawberry, cherry, a bit of plum and spice flavors. Medium+ finish. Rating: B+: When I look for value, I look to Spain first, and this wine over-delivers at $13!

    This 2009 version is explosively perfumed from the get-go with blackberry, dark cherry, graphite and pepper slathered with a nice aura of wood smoke. In the mouth, it's generous to a fault with intense flavors of dark fruits but with the lighter red cherry and raspberry fruit in the mix too. Well-focused with persistent flavors, it sustains a fine mélange of fruit, spice and smoke all the way to the finish. This is one well-rounded and smooth operator. There are only a handful of wines so consistent, thrifty and compelling year after year; Tres Picos flaunts flavor and complexity far beyond its price. A best buy.

    The 2010 Borsao Garnacha Tres Picos from Campo de Borja, Spain, was named the 2012 Sommelier’s Choice by Sommelier Journal following an extensive nominating and blind-tasting process.

    An intense ruby hue in the glass, this “Tres Picos” Garnacha from Bodegas Borsao offers a concentrated nose of plum fruit, blueberries and violets. There is a great intensity to these fruit aromas that can only be a product of the older vines and oak lends a subtle hint of clove spice as air slowly permeates this wine. Densely fruity in the mouth, this 2011 “Tres Picos” Garnacha leads with the direct dark fruit notes of plum and blueberries that are carried over from the nose, with some red cherry flavours also in evidence. The spicy oak notes of this wine emerge from the mid-palate and there is a lovely length to the rich, but surprisingly elegant fruit. A good level of acidity has been retained (despite the heat of Camp de Borja) and this helps significantly with the overall balance of this “Tres Picos” Garnacha. The tannins are approachable now (and this “Tres Picos” Garnacha is massively drinkable), but it could also be cellared through to 2016. 90 points


  • Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache, $13 - $20.
    (Australian.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    This immensely appealing wine is made using fruit picked from bush vines mostly in Yalumba’s oldest Barossa vineyards. Some of these vines were planted in the 19th century. Red brick in colour, the wine offers intriguing raspberry, wild berry and herbal aromas, which evolve on the palate toward rich darker fruit with moderate tannic grip, well-integrated spice and discreet oak influence on the finish. Drinking well now but can develop further over the next three to five years.

    I've said it before and I'll happily say it again. This wine is like the old boot. Ever reliable and it doesn't miss a beat. Bright in the glass, white pepper and earthy spice come to the fore quickly. Nicely balanced throwing up some mouth warmth; the stuff you could snuggle up to in front of the fire. I got a sense though, perhaps something was being held back. Considering it has only been in the bottle a year, some more age may reveal this. All that said, a solid drop yet to let me down. If you like Grenache you'll jump on board with this pretty quickly.

    ♣ Wine Advocate (December 2011), 89 points.

    ♣ Wine Spectator (date unknown), 90 points.

    Medium-deep garnet-purple colored, the 2010 Bush Vine Grenache gives notes of raspberry preserves, Chinese five spice and mandarin peel with a hint of Ceylon tea. Medium to full-bodied with a medium level of soft tannins, it has a refreshing acid line cutting through the generous spicy berry flavors, finishing long.

    On the lighter side, with a mix of red and black fruit in the profile, playing against an open texture and refined tannins on the harmonious finish.

    More of an introductory take on the Grenache grape from Yalumba, and given the price you can find it for, well worth your exploration. It smells and tastes of raspberry compote, dark cherries and brambly fruits with hints of tar and soil. Generously sweet, however it avoids overtly confected characters. Silky and spicy with just a rub of dusty tannin and a little tea leaf. Blessedly free of obvious oak interference. Top notch weeknight drinking. 89 points

    This Barossa wine has fragrant berry aromas with a peppery edge, and the juicy, medium-weight palate has sustained ripe flavour and soft tannins.

    Highly fruity, ripe and juicy, soft and mellow, with raspberries and Victoria plums, and a milk-chocolate layer.

    [F]rom aged Barossa Valley vines, there is a lovely balance here between a meaty, intense structure and juicy, spicy red-fruit flavours coupled with a nice long finish.

    Yalumba's fine example [of Grenache], made from old vines pruned as individual bushes, gives a delicious, earthy, savoury expression of the variety built on fruity varietal flavour.


  • Birichino Besson Vineyard Vielle Vignes Central Coast Grenache, $18 - $30.
    (American; may be from the Grenache Gris mutant.)

    Some quotations and facts:

    Now this is a superb wine. Before opening it, I admit I was expecting something very sweet and ripe, in the new world mould. But what I got was something thrilling, elegant and amazingly drinkable. It’s from a vineyard planted in 1910, with vines on their own roots. . . Made with natural yeast fermentation, a bit of whole cluster, and no fining or filtration, from 100 year old vines. Lovely aromatics: morello cherry, spice, sweet herbs and even a hint of wood smoke. The palate is fresh, cherryish and a bit sappy, with sweet (but not too sweet) fruit, elegant texture and some savoury structural notes. Fresh but not at all angular, and brilliantly drinkable. 92/100

    Often, you hear claims of wines being one of “the best” or most “innovative” of the season, and in the case of the [winemaking] duo’s red, the Grenache, it’s just that—one of the most provocative creatures to emerge on the wine scene in quite some time. It works on many levels and there are few notable reasons why. The grapes are hand-picked, gently handled and given special attention to drawing out inherent lusciousness from the fruit coming off of the wonderfully aged vines [of the Besson vineyard]. (Besson’s father still lives on the property, in fact.) The fruits are sorted again—there’s a small portion of the cluster that remains whole at the bottom of the fermenter and the remaining batch is destemmed and lightly crushed over the top. There’s more to the process, but the end result is lovely and pleasantly surprising.

    As described by Josh Raynolds of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellars: Lurid red. Red berries, cherry pit and musky herbs on the fragrant nose and in the mouth. Light in body but densely packed, with chewy texture and good finishing grip. Slightly unyielding right now but there's a lot of attractive fruit waiting to emerge. 88(+?) points. Erica's Review: An old world style Grenache from California with red fruit and herbal nose that opens up to a very pretty and interesting wine in the glass.

    Grown in the Santa Cruz Mountain area, this Grenache (from 101 year-old vines, grown on its original roots), shows off intense cherry fruit with a bit of black raspberry, along with a pungently stony minerality. It's very good, balanced, and focused, and not at all the fruit bomb one would expect from such old Grenache vines in California. In fact, it's a little on the lean side. . . Deep violet-tinged ruby. Dry cherry extract coats the mouth, along with stony minerals. Lots of soft tannin, as well as acids and alcohol. Not very complex, but satisfying and athletic in a linear way. B+.

    Made from 100-year-old vines, this is a grenache with plenty of fruit, yet it is in no way heavy or brooding. Finely balanced with bright red berries, a hint of orange and hints of white pepper and thyme, it is one of the best you'll find, regardless of price.

    Other [Grenache] bottles I encountered this time, from producers like Birichino and Amphora, have a happy immediacy - wines to drink this moment. All in all, there is exuberant fruit, with structure that whispers rather than shouts.

    This Central Coast wine is made by [Randall Grahm] disciples Alex Krause and John Locke... its from 110 year old vines and is a light, vibrant, energetic wine with raspberry, sour cherry, kirsch, black pepper, earth, funk and wet stone notes that cascade across the nose and palate... and an acid driven mouthwatering fruit experience with a little grip to the mid palate... its an appealing, refreshing wine that could work well with food or on its own... have to try the others in their lineup! Taste 7, Nose 7, Value 10.

    This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from 101 year old vines. Alcohol 13.5%. In the mouth there was redder fruit with a slightly, powdery ripeness. The acidity and dryness builds into a fine, pebbly textured finish. The wine remained tighter in flavor and firmer in the finish.

    I loved its 2011 grenache from the Besson Vineyard; fresh, fragrant, sweetly fruity and deliciously spicy.


  • Trinchero Shatter Grenache, $18 - $35.
    (French, depite the name.)
         ($29.84 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).

    Some quotations and facts:

    [A] stunning Grenache from the Roussillon, in southern France. . . Red currants and wild cherries create a mesmerizing perfume, deepened by the time the lusciously textured fruit hits the palate. It even picks up some black fruit and, even deeper, anise along the way. The expected perky Grenache acidity is present but softened by the French oak (aged 12 months, 75% new). Long last the finish! Long live Shatter!

    These grapes are grown in a slate like rocky soil called black schist that is nutrient poor but retains heat well, allowing the grapes to reach full maturity while experiencing cool nights. Strong winds and hot days cause shatter in the grape clusters, naturally thinning the fruit from the vines, producing intensely concentrated flavors. . . I loved this wine upon first sip and couldn’t believe it was French. I found it quite intense in color and flavor with dark berry and cherry leading to soft tannins and a luscious lingering finish. The longer this sat in the glass the more time it had to reveal its complexity and boldness. French wine made by California winemakers….A match made in heaven. Delicious – Buy some!

    [T]his is a Phinney wine that happens to use Grenache as a vehicle rather than something remotely true to the varietal... its a deep, rich, borderline slutty wine that packs the heat, wood and power that one would expect... the experience is filled with Phinney's trademark black currant, plum, cassis, black cherry, olive, chocolate, smoke, singed vanilla and MONSTER oak... the tannins are grippy and the wine so fruit forward and over the top that Grenache purists need to steer clear... Taste 7, Nose 7, Value 7.

    The 2010 Dave Phinney - Joel Gott Shatter Grenache begins with expressive aromas of ripe dark fruit (mostly blackberry and blueberry) along with lavender, spice and a little vanilla. A truly excellent bouquet. Tasting the wine reveals a bold, fruit forward Grenache with succulent blackberry flavors dominating; however, this is no one trick pony. There are also big (but smooth) tannins, lots of oaky spice, an excellent lush mouthfeel and a super long dry finish. This wine is quite fun to drink as it reveals more nuances as it has some time in the glass. More than a bold statement, this wine is audaciously good.

    Rich, ripe with a strong backbone of dark berry flavor, Shatter surprises and delights in all aspects, especially for those of us who thrive on the deep, bold flavors found commonly in Cabernet Sauvignon or similarly hearty blends.

    [I]nitial sips revealed a concentrated wine with intense fruit flavors and a black, mineral finish which clearly needed to be chilled down. It showed potential. With air there was a distinct highly extracted, dried fruit quality to the wine. It was not the sort of wine you could drink much of, it really was strong stuff. . . I think I approached this wine wrong. I was not tasting a red wine, I was tasting a twist on the traditional fortified wines of Maury. In Jancis Robinson’s article The archivist of Roussillon you may read that a Maury wine may not change even after two decades in barrel. This is different. It is evocative of Maury but may be drunk young and will certainly last for many days once the bottle is opened. Do not try this with dinner for you will be perplexed. Instead you should end your evening with a glass.

    The distinct label with its intricate shattered crystals tempts the wine drinker to explore what’s in the heavy glass bottle. A deep purple red in the glass emits sweet aromas of dark fruit and ripe cherry. The muscular wine is 15 percent alcohol so handle with care. The reward is great: fruit forward blend with tight tannins that expand in the glass. Pour this exciting varietal with chili, spicy barbecue or dark chocolate.

    It's medium-full with intriguing aromas of cooked meat, myrtle, plum and Queen Anne cherry; this has slightly richer tannins along with more obvious oak. This nicely displays the sensual, earthy side of Grenache; it's also a bit bold and has a bit too much oak influence. This can be enjoyed now, but it will be better in 3-5 years.


For a Splurge

Premium Garnacha-based wines are typically Chateauneuf-du Papes, usually at three-digit prices. A reasonable (by splurge standards) possible, recommended by (among others) Jancis Robinson, is the Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas (the Gigondas appellation is next door to the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation), which is about 75% Grenache, priced at about $27 - $43 with a 94 from the Wine Spectator and a 92 from Parker. This one would want some bottle age, say 5 to 15 years from vintage date.

     ($34.94 at Saratoga Wine Exchange).



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