Wine Reviews: Garnacha

Posted by | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 09-26-2015

For wine newbs and nerds alike, Spanish Garnacha offers a lot of fun options, many of them for a moderate price. This grape (Spanish for Grenache) has historically been used in blends, but it’s common as a varietal wine, and “Garnacha” is featured frequently and prominently on many Spanish wine labels. A juicy red grape, Garnacha is becoming more widely known among consumers looking for something smooth yet bold and fruity.

Apparently every grape now has to have it’s own “day,” so on September 18, I tasted some Spanish Garnacha on Garnacha/Grenache Day. In an online video tasting sponsored by Snooth, Guillermo Cruz, sommelier at the award-winning Mugaritz in San Sebastian, said customers frequently ask for a bottle of Garnacha by name, which was an uncommon request just a few years ago.

Like any wine from any region, the $10 bottles with screwcaps and kitschy labels are most likely going to be sweet, candied wines without much depth. But perhaps unlike many regions, Spanish Garnacha quality rises quickly with only slight cost increases. There are lots of real, terroir-driven wines out there for $15-$25, which isn’t as easy to find with some other popular red varieties.

All wines in this post were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 

Review: 2014 Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Cariñena Beso de Vino Old VineSpain, Aragón, Cariñena
SRP: $10
Juicy ruby color. Nose of candied red berries, red licorice, caramelized sugar, coffee and vanilla. Medium-bodied, soft drinking tannins, moderate-low acid. The red berry fruit is sweet and chewy, mixed in with notes of Brazil nut, campfire logs, vanilla and coffee. Fun, simple, easy-drinking Garnacha for near-term consumption.

Review: 2013 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud Las RocasSpain, Aragón, Calatayud
SRP: $13
Bright ruby colored. Smells like raspberry and currant jam, some earthy, sweet violets and black pepper as well. Soft tannins, medium acid for freshness on the palate. The raspberries and red and black cherries are tangy but sweet. Notes of cedar, loamy soil and coffee mix with peppery spice and tobacco. Ready to drink, a crowd-pleasing, food-friendly wine that offers some subtle complexity. 

Review: 2013 Bodegas Aragonesas Garnacha Campo de Borja Coto de Hayas CentenariaSpain, Aragón, Campo de Borja
SRP: $14
Medium ruby color. Bright and juicy with red and black plums, lots of rose petals, some dusty earth, cocoa powder and charcoal. Full-bodied with dusty tannins and chewy fruit. Black and red cherries and plums, the fruit is juicy and ripe and laced with notes of vanilla bean, coconut shavings, charcoal, dusty soil and pipe tobacco. A big wine but accessible and stays relatively fresh. Pair with grilled everything and guests who love oaky Napa Cabernet.

Review: 2010 Viñas del Vero Somontano SecastillaSpain, Aragón, Somontano
SRP: $28
Medium ruby colored. A bit musty on the nose, with wet leaves and old library books, but also a lot of black cherries and blackberries, Full-bodied, bold tannic structure, but some nicely tart acid to keep it balanced. Black cherries, blackberries, roasted fig, a darker wine with deep notes of loam, iron, charcoal and black licorice. Tobacco, black pepper, add in some mocha and wood shavings, but not too much. Some decaying leaves and mushrooms, too. A bit tight at first but gets all sorts of open and exuberant with an hour or two. Settles down on day two and gets smooth and earthy. Would like to revisit in three years.

On a separate occasion this summer, I tasted some 2012 Las Rocas Garnachas, the regular bottling and the Vignes Viejas, or old vines, which comes from vines older than 50 years. Both are solid wines, but the old vine has a bit more depth and complexity. I poured both for my sister, who appreciates wine but isn’t a full-on nerd, and she got a kick out of tasting two wines that were the same except for the age of the vines. She told me: “The old vine was such a deep flavor and such a smooth finish. Seemed much more balanced it was fun to go back and forth and notice the subtleties.” I agree!

Review 2012 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud Las RocasSpain, Aragón, Calatayud
SRP: $14
Medium ruby. A dusty nose with soil, herbs and pepper topping the bright red currant and raspberry jam. Rich and chewy texture, tannins are accessible but structure the wine, low acid. Black cherries, raspberry jam, the fruit is chewy and a bit candied, but backed up by loamy, dusty, charcoal notes and tobacco. Toasty finish. Fun wine, good value, great for grilling and parties, solid.

Review: 2012 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Calatayud Las Rocas Viñas Viejas ­- Spain, Aragón, Calatayud
SRP: $22
Medium ruby. Deeper currants, some black cherries, more soil and charcoal elements than the regular bottling, some tobacco. The tannins seem a bit more structured, still low on the acid, but the black currant, raspberry and black cherry fruit is smooth, not as candied as the regular bottling. The old vine presence is felt in the wine’s velvety, dusty appeal, and the loamy, graphite and iron notes. I get some tobacco and grilled herbs on the finish. Fun stuff, showing some moderate complexity and the potential to develop over the next two years or so.

Comments are closed.