Meet Garnacha. Serving diligently as one of Spain’s signature red wine grape varieties, Garnacha enjoys extensive plantings worldwide. This hardy, thin-skinned, late ripening red grape is thought by many to have originated in the landlocked region of Aragon in northeastern Spain. Because it can handle the demands of crazy continental climates like a champ, with vines withstanding wind and drought conditions considerably well, Garnacha (aka Grenache in France), is a go-to grape for all sorts of winemaking endeavors. Just to keep things interesting, Garnacha also comes as a rich, full-bodied white wine variety, dubbed appropriately as “Garnacha Blanca.”
From world class rosés to concentrated collectibles and fortified favorites, and routinely bottled as a key contributor in synergistic blends or flying solo as a single variety, Garnacha brings plenty of vinous charm and outright versatility to the winemaker’s cellar. After all, what other grape variety can lay creative claim to red, white, and rosé, dry, off-dry, and sweet, fortified along with sparkling wine renditions?
Garnacha Flavor Profiles: In general, Spain’s warm, sun-baked growing season gives rise to well-ripened Garnacha grape clusters that may carry considerable sugar, which converts to elevated alcohol levels in the bottle. Ranging from medium to full-bodied, often hauling higher alcohol levels (15% is not uncommon), with lower levels of innate acidity, modest tannin, and engaging aromatics Garnacha’s red grape shines bright with delicious ripe fruit character. Expect a berry medley to take front and center stage with raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and cherry dominating initial impressions. Peppery influences along with cinnamon and cloves, earth and herbs, chocolate and coffee, savory spice and smoky notes may all make their way into the bottle as well. Tapping into old vines that produce smaller yields, allows many Garnacha vineyard managers to deliver assertive wines with remarkable flavor intensity carrying a rich, full-bodied, concentrated palate profile.
Pairing Picks for Garnacha: A natural for grilled meat, smoked baby back ribs, all sorts of barbecue, burgers, brats and brisket, chorizo and shrimp paella, slow roasted lamb, spicy tacos and burritos, hearty stews, and meat lover’s pizza, Garnacha promises serious pairing versatility and a remarkable food-friendly nature.
Popular Garnacha Bottles to Try (all under $20) – Care to toast the town on #Garnacha Day? We’ve got you covered, take a sip of Garnacha in all of its unblended glory with these single variety bottles to try with prices ranging from $8-20.
- Bodegas Ateca Honoro Vera 2014
- Bodegas Breca 2013
- Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2014
- Campo Viejo Garnacha 2014
- Espelt Winery Old Vines Garnacha 2013
- Evodia Old Vine 2014
- Figaro Calatayud Tinto 2013
- Las Rocas Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2012
- Las Rocas Garnacha 2013
Growing Garnacha – A Regional Peek
Today, Garnacha finds firm footing throughout Spain; however, some of the most passionate producers and classic wines can be found from these five DO regions: Campo de Borja, Terra Alta, Somontano, Cariñena and Calatayud. Campo de Borja, the self-proclaimed “Empire of Garnacha,” was the first to embrace and develop the concept of modern varietal Garnacha wines. Its picturesque wine route is a haven for wine country tourists. Terra Alta, the white Garnacha specialist, delivers mineral-driven wines that highlight the grape’s versatility. Somontano approaches the grape with a New World spin, crafting luxury wines built to age. Cariñena is an up and coming region that combines altitude, wind, significant diurnal temperature swings with old vine concentration, but let’s face it Cariñena is not quite a household name (yet!) for Spanish wine growing regions, which means that the price to quality ratios are still stellar. Calatayud often delivers its Garnacha in a versatile light. From intense, hot pink rosés to full throttle, full-bodied high octane reds. The renowned Rioja region also grows its fair share of Garnacha; however, it tends to play second fiddle and is most often blended with Tempranillo here.
DIY Garnacha Tasting!
Want to dive deeper into the great big world of Garnacha? Then have fun checking out this side by side comparative tasting format of Spain’s Garnacha regions to celebrate the diversity and festive sips of #GarnachaDay. Compare and contrast these wines in terms of color, aromas, fruit character, the levels of acidity, tannin content.