Widely Grown and Increasing in Quality.”
Garnacha, otherwise known as Grenache in France and outside
Spain, has for years been used as a “blender” grape.
There are various clones of the grape, including “Tinta” (black)
and “Blanca” (white, called Grenache Blanc in France)).
Garnacha Tinta is the most widely planted grape in Spain, with
dark skin and light flesh, and was traditionally used as backbone
filler to other “nobler” grapes such as Tempranillo.
It can be used for Rosado or Red wines where the acidity is
usually quite low and the grape can provide very high alcohol
levels. When not controlled by careful wineries, the grape
can be very high yielding, producing “vigorous” (sometimes
Garnacha is ubiquitous in many of Spain’s wine regions
including La Rioja (blended with Tempranillo, Graciano and
Mazuelo); Empurdá- Costa Brava (an appellation located
in Spain’s northeastern corner, on the border with France.
A great example is the fantastic Castillo de Perelada range
of wines, where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
and Cariñena); Calatayud (a sub region of Aragon); Cariñena,
Campo de Borja (the Best known winery being Coto de Hayas,
basing all of their quality reds on Garnacha, including the “Garnacha
Centenaria 2000” made with 100% Garnacha and 100 year
old vines); Penedés (namely as the main component in
Miguel Torres’ highly successful “Sangre de Toro” brand);
Costers del Segre; Somontano (the beautiful wine region in
the Pyrenees), Utiel Requena (the wine region closest to Valencia,
with the Best winery being Bodegas Gandia who produce a lovely
example of blended Garnacha in their “Hoya de Cadenas” brand).
The areas where Garnacha is starting to take center stage,
though, is definitely in Priorat and Navarra, two of Spain’s
Best wine regions with top-notch producers. In Navarra, there
are many vineyards with Old Vine Garnacha growing, which produces
inky, full flavoured blockbusters. Top wineries using Garnacha
include Señorio de Sarriá (a stunning winery
located in the 13th century town of Puente la Reina), Bodegas
Irache (founded in 1891, and with many old vines. They use
Garnacha for their Rosado and as a blender for their Crianzas
and Reservas), Julian Chivite (better known for the ever popular “Gran
Feudo” range of wines, again using Garnacha for Rosados
and for blending the reds), Bodegas Ochoa (located in the gorgeous
village of Olite, with its fairy tale castle), and Guelbenzu
(aristocratic winery, established in 1851, making very top
end wines). In Priorat, Garnacha is being used by the regions
Best winemakers including Alvaro Palacios (who uses old vine
Garnacha in his famed wines including Les Terrasses, Finca
Dofi and L’Ermita), Rene Barber’s Clos Mogador
(where it is blended with Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon to make
sensuous, velvety wine) and Scala Dei, where the “Negre
Scala-Dei” is made with 100% Garnacha.
Try these delicious examples of Garnacha:
Martinez Bujanda Reserva, Selected Harvest: 100% Garnacha,
18 months in American oak, absolutely luscious and unique wine
made from the winery’s prime vineyards in Oyón,
Logroño and Ausejo. Martinez Bujanda is the only house
in La Rioja making a complete varietal Garnacha, and this is
due to the winemaker’s dedication and faith in the grape.
The result is a deep red cherry color, powerful and aromatic
nose and fresh explosion of red fruits on the palate.
more about Martinez Bujanda
L'Ermita: Alvaro Palacio’s star winemaker and his top
of the line star wine. L’Ermita is a blend of 80% Garnacha
(with amazing 100 year old vines), 16% Cabernet Sauvignon,
and 4% Cariñena. The wine spends minimum 15 months in
oak, and at 13.8% is not for the faint hearted! It is suitable
for very long aging for those who can wait. Robert Parker,
the most famous wine critic in the world, rated the 1998 vintage
of L’Ermita with 97 points.
more about Alvaro Palacios
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