Here’s the unedited copy of my column on Spanish Garnacha that appeared in today’s Knoxville News Sentinel. It’s not quite as riddled with grammatical errors.
The Spanish refer to it as Garnacha; the French call it Grenache or Grenache Noir. However, to most of the world it’s quickly becoming known as one of the most planted red grape varietals. Garnacha’s foothold in the Iberian Peninsula has established it as Spain’s go-to wine making grape.
Although Tempranillo is Spain’s current red grape production leader, Garnacha is increasingly being used in more blends and lands it at a respectable second. In fact, according to the California based RhoneRangers.org Garnacha or Grenache might be the world’s most planted red grape varietal, perhaps eclipsed only by the king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Recently, I revisited one of my favorite Spanish Garnachas as well as a newer found love that both confirmed the distinction and dynamic potential of this wine. If this level of quality can continue and these wines work on marketing some of their attractive swagger, there’s no reason why Garnacha can’t continue to gain ground in the international wine market.
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.
My newfound love, in the world of Spanish Garnacha, is the 2010 El Chaparral by Vega Sindoa. This old vines Garnacha flaunts the most fragrant and lovely aromatic display of any Garnacha I’ve tried. With an introduction of Indian cloves, El Chaparral’s busy bouquet develops into an olfactory feast of eucalyptus and wintergreen mint. Its refined tannins offer a sleek and polished frame that won’t go unnoticed, especially with a finish that is plump with gobs of very berry and cherry flavors.
Just like the Evodia, El Chaparral Old Vines Garnacha is a little punchier than many comparable red wines with an ABV of 14%. This is due in large part to the late harvesting that is required for the Garnacha grape to fully ripen. That late ripening may equate to more alcohol, but the varietal does an exceptional job during the wine making process of not becoming overshadowed by the higher alcohol content. One sip of either of these wines is all it takes to taste just why Garnacha is gaining ground.