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Showing posts with label Garnacha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garnacha. Show all posts

20 January 2023

Rioja: reds less than 5 years old.

Part two of this WineWriting.com Rioja feature moves on to red wines - the first instalment highlighted 15 delicious white wines (all tasted in Dublin last month: click/tap to read more). As an appetising entrée, 15 varied red Riojas have been chosen here which are 'less than five years old', to coin a cunning theme that will be developed in two further posts ('5 to 10 years' and '10 to 20 years' old).

13 October 2022

10 wines and a cider of the moment.

D'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2021 McLaren Vale, South Australia (14% abv): Asda £10 on offer, normally £13. Stylish and unusual full-bodied white, floral nutty and exotic with zesty yeast-lees and citrus tones; generously textured mouthfeel from a small portion of each variety being barrel fermented, otherwise not noticeable.

21 June 2022

June wines of the moment

A mixed baker's dozen (plus) of wines worth taking bad photos of...
M&S 'Found' Weißburgunder 2021, Pfalz Germany (12.5% abv): Or Pinot Blanc to use its more familiar French name (Pinot Bianco in Italy). This juicy zesty pear and nectarine tinged dry white is from talented winemaker Gerd Stepp, who's made other tasty 'modern' German wines for Marks including delicious Riesling and Pinot Noir. Resembles Alsace Pinot Blanc in style but with more flavour. £9.50

28 April 2022

Grenache: white rosé and red.

Lo Cometa Garnatxa Blanca 2020 Terra Alta, Catalunya (organic, 13.5% abv): Which is Catalan for Grenache blanc, this unusual full-bodied dry white is more about flavour and texture than aroma. Subtle honeyed notes with yeast-lees, white peach and pears edged with aniseed and blanched nuts; quite powerful while juicy and concentrated with lingering mineral freshness. £7.25 The Wine Society (out of stock, wait for the 2021), €6-€7 Germany (Lidl has some 2019 left), Netherlands €9.

01 November 2021

The Wine Society: 3 whites, 3 rosés, 3 reds.

These nine varied wines are available from the Wine Society in the UK (and some of them from other wine stores and in other countries), which I became a member of recently, and represent my favourites from a first mixed case purchased (I picked each wine but you can order from several pre-selected options).

01 July 2021

Chile review 2021 masterclass

Valle de Elqui
Two tasting sessions featuring very diverse wines were held live via Zoom at the end of May, hosted by Wines of Chile UK, Tim Atkin MW and several leading Chilean winemakers also online commenting on their wines as we sampled from home. Tim picked sixteen whites, reds and a rosé to showcase the latest developments on the ground in Chile, enhanced by lots of up-to-date information on vineyards, grape varieties and wine regions. Atkin produces a substantial report every year on the Chilean wine scene, which can be purchased from this website here. Wine geek warning: this post is quite long and 'serious' (but does contain some great wines to look out for)...

20 January 2021

Red & rosé wines of trying times

Whereas the fifty-odd 'white wines of the cosmos' in my previous feature were arranged by store, these forty red and rosé tips have been grouped by good old-fashioned grape variety (or combinations of). Once again, no apologies offered for, this time, an irrational amount of Grenache, including GSM (Grenache / Garnacha, Shiraz / Syrah and Mourvèdre blends), as well as Pinot Noir...

24 May 2019

'Wines of the week'

This varied selection of 'wines of the week', to use the popular editorial-speak, is making an impromptu appearance here instead of the more customary 'wines of the moment', just for a change of scenery, along with a few random dishes that made a good match. Some of these wines were opened at two recommended BYO restaurants located in Ballyhackamore in groovy suburban east Belfast, known affectionately as 'Bally-snack-amore': the Rajput Indian and Good Fortune Chinese, which will both be featured on this blog shortly.

07 April 2018

Grenache / Garnacha: Australia, France (Roussillon), Spain (Catalonia).

Wine Australia says that Grenache 'was the most widely planted variety,' but the amount of Grenache crushed in Aus in 2012 was sadly one-fifth of the quantity harvested in 1979. Meaning somewhere along the line, Australian winemakers fell out of love with the grape, combined with the drop in demand for traditional fortified 'Port styles' based on the variety, which must have been removed in favour of Shiraz, for example among others, and/or very old vines died and weren't replaced. The Australians also claim they have 'some of the oldest vine varietals in the world, red and white,' in South Australia essentially where a successful quarantine policy has kept out the vine-destroying phylloxera louse, including cherished senior-citizen Grenache in the McLaren Vale.

24 December 2014

Spain: "wines of the mo"

Simply Garnacha Rosado Borsao (13.5% abv) - very reliable and fairly classic style of full-bodied dry Spanish rosé made by Bodegas Borsao in the Campo de Borja region in Aragón. Great value too: £4.69 Tesco.
Mas Miralda Cava Brut Vintage 2011 (11.5% abv) - another reliable favourite fizz with attractive mix of refreshingly frothy and light underlined by subtle yeasty / biscuity flavours, off-dry and easy-going. Asda £6
Finca Manzanos 'Coleccion Privada' 2005 Reserva Rioja (13.5% abv) - lovely mature Rioja style - although still on fine form for its age - with smoky sweet vs savoury fruit, maturing 'cheesy' notes and silky mouth-feel. M & S £13.99 - looks like the 05 is gone, although the current 2007 vintage on their site should be good too.
Special Reserve Dry Oloroso Sherry, Barbadillo (Palomino fino, 19% abv) - classic slightly oddball dark and lush sherry yet dry and tangy with layers of complex roast nut flavours from mellow ageing. Bargain: Tesco £6 50cl.

27 February 2013

Spain: Garnacha / Garnatxa, red white and rosé

Following in the red-stained footsteps of my 'World Grenache Competition' series (part 1, part 2, part 3), this time we're turning the spotlight on Garnacha/Garnatxa from different parts of northeast Spain (Rioja, Aragon, Catalonia) with a little vinous wandering beyond the timeframe of the WGC event, which took place in Perpignan, south of France (Catalan side) recentlyMy favourites from the Garnacha-based rosados tasted in the competition are highlighted below, along with a few reds sampled/enjoyed in the afternoon or evening with food and some background info on this sumptuous variety in the regions of Aragón and Catalunya. I've noted any medals awarded and/or my 100-point style score as appropriate. Some of the other wines crossed my path last year but haven't seen the on-line light of day yet.

Rosé / rosado - Rioja

2012 Castillo de Albai Felix Solis Avantis - full-on cherry nose, fresh lively and lees-y with plenty of aromatic red fruits, zippy long finish with nice lingering fruit. Gold Medal winner. My score 87+
2012 Valcaliente rosado Ruiz Jimenez - fresh lees-y nose with attractive cherry fruit, crisp and zippy mouth-feel with long ripe vs tart finish, nice weight too vs tight and crisp. Silver Medal. 87
2012 Arnegui Felix Solis Avantis - almost red, rich and aromatic with ripe cherry fruit, full-bodied 'sweet' vs crunchy palate, impressive big rosé style even if a little heavy on the winemaking (then again, that is rosé, no?!). 85
2012 Vina Herminia Garnacha - even richer in colour than above, has plenty of extract and fruit, rich and full-on yet fresher and more elegant than above. Gold. 87


2010 Las Rocas Garnacha viñas viejas Calatayud (Bodegas San Alejandro co-op winery, from 80 year-old bush vines) - lovely ripe minty blackberry fruit and spice, concentrated and powerful with 'sweet' vs peppery profile, silky tannins layered with tasty dark lush fruit and savoury-edged finish. Yum: 'modern' style but good with it. Silver Medal. UK/Ireland importer: Liberty Wines (I copied the photo above from libertywines.co.uk).
2009 Aquilon Garnacha Campo de Borja - lots of sweet coconut and chocolate oak vs lush fruit and layered tannins, rounded and ripe vs a touch of firmness; nice but rather oaky.
2010 Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria Campo de Borja - touches of oak grain, lovely tobacco notes vs ripe sweet fruit, powerful yet with some fresh bite and grip too. Nice old-fashioned style. The 2011 vintage won a Gold.

Whereas only 10% of Spain's vineyards overall are planted with Garnacha, there's "much more in Aragón..." (also suggested as the variety's origin), Juan Cacho told us giving an overview of the region (professor of winemaking at Zaragoza University). Looking at the main 'DO's (appellation areas) within this province, Garnacha accounts for at least half of varieties planted in Calatayud and Campo de Borja (both on the western side), and nearly a third of the surface area in Cariñena yet just 5% of Somontano (more mountainous zone to the northeast). "Garnacha was declining but now we're replanting it," Juan explained, "it suits dry climates and low-yields. Old vineyards are now sought after. I think the increased investment in technology and winemaking have had a very positive effect on Garnacha in particular, in quality terms, and especially for the co-ops." There's also a new emphasis on export marketing e.g. joint Grenache promotions in North America. "We're looking for EU funds to work with people in the Roussillon etc. Home wine consumption is falling, so we have to look elsewhere," he concluded logically.
More Garnacha wines from Aragón here ("wines of the mo" Oct 2011) and here (Spain archive page).


2011 Viladellops Garnatxa Penedès - nice 'sweet' aromatic floral minty and spicy blackberry/cherry fruit, firm and peppery vs ripe and soft palate, powerful yet fairly easy going with tasty fruity finish. (The 2009 vintage won a Silver Medal).
Nuria Ruiz from the Catalan Wine Association added that "this vineyard was replanted, or rather grafted 28 years ago so the vines are 'older' than that. The wineries in our association export less than in Spain overall (meaning those thirsty Catalans drink most of it presumably), and a quarter of wine exported is red Garnacha." They promote them in e.g. the US, London, Switzerland, Barcelona and Perpignan (!); the average bottle price is €34, which is pretty high value wine.

2009 Domènech 'Teixar' Montsant (Garnatxa "pelut" = furry Grenache!) - showing a fair dose of coconut and vanilla oak, rich and ripe palate though vs nice firm and peppery finish, enticing tasty savoury fruit with layers of coco/choc oak, but not too much in the end.
2009 Domènech 'Furvus' Montsant (Garnacha & Syrah, 14.5%) - 'sweet' and maturing nose and palate vs grippy and structured, attractive lingering savoury fruit vs solid and tight still; good stuff. Silver medal (I tasted it in the special 'Grenache room' at last year's London International Wine Fair actually).
Josep Ignaci Domènech showed his first wine here representing the 'Terra de Garnatxes' group, which is funded by half a dozen wineries including him. Catalunya has diverse vineyard areas running from the coast right up to 700-1000 m altitude (2300-3300 ft roughly); the Montsant DO region lies inland and not far from the city of Tarragona. Josep told us "there are 5837 ha (approx 14,500 acres) of Garnatxa in Catalunya," splitting down as about 3900 of red, 1780 white "...plus the three other Garnachas..." ('grey', 'furry' and ..?).

El Miracle Cava rosado Vincente Gandia - attractive fruity style with a touch of intense toasty yeast-lees character.
2011 Herencia Altés Benufet Garnatxa Blanca - soft rounded and oily with interesting aniseed flavours, nice food white.

Parés Baltà organic wine and Cava producer based in the Penedès region.
2011 Indigena white Garnatxa (11.5%) - from La Plana Molinera, Finca El Subal at 700m altitude. Juicy lees-y and light, attractive mineral side vs honeyed fruit, crisp and delicate actually.
2009 Hisenda Miret (Finca Cal Miret, 400m) - nice juicy Garnacha style with peppery liquorice notes, full bodied and grippy with a touch of class too.
(Tasted in a special 'Grenache room' at last year's London International Wine Fair).

More Catalan Garnatxa here.

06 February 2013

World Grenache Competition part 1: Spain, Sardinia, Australia, South Africa.

The first of its kind, I/they believe (? and set to become a regular event I hope), an international wine competition in celebration of one of my fav varieties, Grenache / Garnacha / Garnatxa / Cannonau: red, white, rosé and fortified wines. And absolutely why not, I hear you say. Ah, yes, Cannonau: it took me a while too to remember that Sardinia's Cannonau di Sardegna red is made from what they call Grenache!
I was on one of the tasting panels in Perpignan on 24th January; my table of tasters (two Spanish winemakers - erm, one Valencian, one Catalan - three French and yours truly) sampled and marked about 30 wines: one flight of Spanish rosés, one of Cannonau and one of Roussillon 'table' reds (my pick of the latter appear in part 2 of this report on my French Med Wine blog). Being held in Perpignan, there were naturally a lot of local entries, which is probably reflected in the amount of medal winners from this region (and some good wines of course). Then again, most of the world's Grenache is planted in France - split between the Rhone valley, Roussillon and Languedoc - and Spain, Garnacha's spiritual home (I have/found contradictory info disagreeing over whether Spain or France has the most!). There were also some entries from Australia (probably not as many as there could/should have been?) and South Africa (again, medal winners and my favs are below), accompanied by surprise samples from Brasil and Republic of Macedonia! But what about California? I believe the main criterion applied for the contest was for large-majority Grenache (red, white, grey or 'furry'...) wines, which perhaps also explains the dominance of the Roussillon and lack of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Languedoc in the 'French category' and wines from Aus and SA (tends to be a lower % of the blend), although you'd still have expected more Rhone wines in the medal line-up.
Talking of which, this is where I might make myself unpopular. I counted 163 Gold and Silver medals including nine Trophy winners: out of only 364 wines tasted, that's nearly 45% of them, which is too high a proportion compared to other international competitions; and in fact OIV regulations, the organisation that dreamed up the frankly stupid 'official' system used, apparently state that "awards are limited to 30% of samples entered..." I've come across this system before, where you have to allocate a set amount of marks to all aspects of each wine, including e.g. colour and clarity as if that really matters when making a quality judgement. Especially since Grenache isn't naturally known as a variety with lots of rich colour (you can if you really extract it), compared to say Syrah or Cabernet. Anyway, this very long-winded methodology does at least add up to 100, but it's more generous - or the opposite - than the 100 point system used by some wine critics. Scoring works as follows: 84 to 87 Silver medal, Gold 87 to 92 and Trophy 92 to 100 (see what I mean). It's too easy to award too many or too few marks to a wine by adding them all up for each 'category' (visual, olfactory, mouth-feel, overall impression and totally subjective 'typicity'), as you're supposed to. So I judged them applying the 'traditional' 100-pointer in my mind while asking myself: "is this really a silver or gold wine?" Then did the silly math afterwards.
Rant over: you have to use some scoring system or other obviously. And I'm certainly not knocking any attempt to promote great wines made from Grenache from around the world. The nine 'trophy' winners were as follows, which include a fair few Vins Doux Naturels fortified reds and 'whites' from the Roussillon (red highlight = link to profile on my other blog):
Château de Péna Hors d'âge AOP Rivesaltes Tuilé, Roussillon.
Dom Brial 2010 AOP Rivesaltes Grenat, Roussillon.
Domaine Rossignol 2008 AOP Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon.
Albera En croisade Hors d'âge AOP Rivesaltes Ambré, Roussillon.
GT-G 2010 LePlan-Vermeersch AOP Côtes du Rhône Villages.
Lafou Els Amelers 2011 Roqueta DO Terra Alta white, Catalonia.
Saint Roch Kerbuccio 2011 Maison Lafage AOP Maury Sec, Roussillon.
Sartiglia 2011 Azienda Vinicola Attilio Contini DOC Cannonau di Sardegna (actually my top wine in our flight from Sardinia).
Sur Grains 2011 Domaine Boudau AOP Rivesaltes Grenat, Roussillon.

The full results are viewable here: www.grenachesdumonde.com.

My pick of the Spanish rosados and Cannonau di Sardegna reds (tasted in the competition blind) (will) feature in separate posts (click on highlighted links), along with a few succinct points plucked from the presentations given in the afternoon on Grenache and pen names in Sardinia, Aragon, Catalonia and Australia. Plus more wines worth mentioning sampled / quaffed that evening at a food & wine tasting bash or the previous night over dinner. Any medals awarded appear in brackets and/or my 100-point style score afterwards...
AND "WGC Part 2" including my favs from the Roussillon and Rhone Valley IS HERE, with the first outing, for me at least, of some exciting Maury Sec dry red wines (the appellation rules were amended from vintage 2011 to embrace 'dry' and fortified sweet reds from the same area based on Grenache)...

16 August 2012

Spain: Catalan "wines of the moment"

Specialist Spanish wine importer Oliver Burridge & Co. (based in the UK but they also sell to wine merchants in Ireland; click on that link to go to their site) has just added to their burgeoning selection from Catalan country, including two Cavas, white and rosé, and a few reds and a white from the lesser-known regions of Terra Alta and Montsant. These two wine areas can both be found in Tarragona province (about 100 km/60 miles southwest of Barcelona) on the higher ground (the red 'Cims del Montsant' below means MS Peaks) away from the coast, and I've featured three wines from here. The red and white from the Edetaria winery are particularly sexy, made from black and white Grenache or Garnacha or Garnatxa Negra and Garnatxa Blanca in Catalan. And the two Cavas tasting-noted and reviewed are made by Capesa and are pretty typical good examples of this tasty refreshing sparkling wine.

Cava Olivella Ferrari Brut Rosé Capesa (mostly Trepat, 11.5% alc.) - tasty refreshing style, fruity and elegant with lovely fine frothy mousse; has delicate oat biscuit flavours vs red fruits and rose aromas, drier than some rosé Cavas with crisp lively finish. £11.50 Spirited Wines.
Cava Olivella Ferrari Brut Reserva Capesa (Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada; 11.5% alc.) - subtle delicate style with refreshing fizz and mineral notes vs very light toasted almond and floral fruit, gets even more refreshing and quaffable as you sip it. £10.50 Spirited Wines, Merchant Vintners, Flourish and Prosper.

2010 Cims del Montsant Garnatxa i Carinyena Cellers Baronia del Montsant (13.5%) - better than their 2011 Codols del Montsant Garnacha (a bit over-extracted and lacking roundness), this one is smoother with a layer of vanilla/coconut oak, quite lush dark and spicy fruit with dry vs rounded tannins. £11 Spirited Wines.

2011 Via Terra Garnatxa Negra Edetaria, Terra Alta (14.5%) - rich punchy and peppery, black cherry/berry with fig and liquorice notes and savoury black olive edges; light touch of coconut/vanilla oak but it's well done, lovely dry/firm vs ripe texture, powerful yet balanced. Nice lingering dark fruit vs meaty savoury side. Yum. £11.50
2011 Via Terra Garnatxa Blanca Edetaria, Terra Alta (13.5%) - attractive juicy pear notes vs nutty oily side with mineral bite, a tad honeyed and weighty too vs crisp and juicy, nice subtle length and style with lingering almond and pear flavours. £11 Guildford Wine Company; The Wine Library; Spirited Wine (with own label Vinya d'Irto); Liquid Pleasure.

Lots more Cava and Spanish wine HERE.


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.