Garnacha is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate and produces wine with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. Characteristic flavor profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavors (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note.
Spanish Wines from Rioja tend to be popular for those seeking a great value as well as for those that enjoy the typical Rioja profile of smoky, deep fruit and vanilla that is always so appealing. Although the area is known for Tempranillo many wineries are making wines from other varietals such as Garnacha. Campo Viejo makes a 100% Garnacha that is aged for four months in American oak barrels, and presents an abundantly creamy, juicy and soft berry-fruited nose. There’s that layer of vanilla, but really nice, buoyant fruit too. In the mouth there is more of that creamy softness. It’s not as structured and serious as some Riojas, but then it makes up for that with its easy drinkability. The wine is fresh and approachable, despite a hefty 14.0% alcohol. Happily recommended for only $14.99.
Slightly to the Southeast of Rioja lies the area of Calatayud where over 55% of the vines are planted to red Garnacha. Honoro Vera, part of Gil Family Estates, produces an organic Garnacha that is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged for two months in French oak barrels. The grapes are from various vineyards in the area and are generally located at over 2,300 feet in elevation. Most of the vines are 35-40 years of age and have low yields because they are planted in limestone and sand. These soil beds offer very poor nutrients which are ideal for Garnacha. The resulting wine is dark with a violet edge, has a powerful nose, dominated by ripe red fruits, raspberry and currant with balsamic and mineral notes. At 14.5% alcohol it is powerful in the mouth and full bodied, but has rounder tannins and is fruity with a light spice on the finish. A bargain at $10.99.
Pick up a bottle of Garnacha the next time you are enjoying pasta with tomato sauce or a dish with goat cheese, and even pork and chorizo empanadas.