You call it Grenache; I call it Garnacha…
The French may have popularized el Tinto Aragonés a.k.a Grenache as the core blending wine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas or Côtes du Rhône. But when this delightful, less tannic varietal goes back to its roots in Spain, where it actually originates near Rioja, we see gorgeous reds and rosé that show it has truly come home. One sip, and it’s clear, the Spanish climate and terroir (or should I say suelo?) is just what the oenophile ordered. Today’s Spanish Garnacha brings forth complexity and depth. Noted for its body and ability to make other wines taste even better, sometimes Garnacha is equally brilliant on its own. This month, Hinsdale Cellars gives Inspired Wine Club members a chance to taste and compare two Spanish Garnacha wines – one that showcases the grape solamente, and the other incorporating a bit of Tempranillo to give the wine even more heft.
Fagus de Coto de Hayas, Garnacha 2008
An intense garnet wine, the nose here also conveys an intensity of red fruit, spice and oakiness. On the palate, this luscious somewhat oaky red brings forth vanilla and raspberry jamminess with hints of licorice and chocolate that are made even more impressive with a bit of decanting. This Garnacha is balanced, rich and most definitely satisfying. The Penin Guide on Spanish Wine scored this particular vintage 90 out of 100 points, saying “Never before has a Garnacha wine been so close to perfection.” In 2007, the wine won a silver medal in the International Wine Challenge in London. For a special treat, pair it with wild game, a succulent pork roast or as an accompaniment to ripe sheep cheese.
Don Ramon Campo de Borja, 2008
With an addition of 25% Tempranillo, one might worry that this full-bodied Garnacha would overwhelm the senses. However, this deep ruby-colored smile-maker provides a welcoming, albeit complex and intense aroma that leads to a luxurious full-fruited wine – perfect for quaffing on a cold winter’s night, enjoying with a hearty stew or serving with your homemade tapas of charcuterie and assorted cheeses. It is smooth, well structured and with a soft, rich finish. In other words, this Garnacha is delightfully drinkable and perfect for the red wine lover. You will quickly see why Garnacha is the third most planted grape in Spain.