One of the world’s oldest and most widely planted wine grapes, Garnacha is grown in its birthplace of eastern Spain, southern France (where it is known as “Grenache”), the United States, Italy, and more. Garnacha is the only mainstream grape with red and white varieties, which are made into red, white, and rosé wines. This year, the Wines of Garnacha are promoting and highlighting the five Protected Designations of Origin located in the area where Garnacha originated: Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta. Garnacha thrived in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon spread to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the Crown of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries.
Over its history, Garnacha has gone from being blended with other varieties to standing on its own. In this day and age, winemakers are pushing Garnacha to new heights - it's possible to pair a whole meal with different Garnacha wines: a rosé as an aperitif, a white with the starter, a red with the main course, a red or fortified red to accompany cheese, then wind things up with a fortified white for dessert. Try that with another varietal!
I received 5 bottles of wines from the 5 birthplace appellations of Garnacha - these innovative affordable wines are made with 50+-80+ year old vines, so it's like drinking history. We tasted the wines over the last week, enjoying them with a variety of foods. The first one opened was on Friday, September 16, Garnacha Day, an event held around the world to celebrate this grape. After that, we decided to try and taste in as many different situations as we could, always keeping in mind that Garnacha is a food-friendly grape and seems to travel well.
Our white wine tended toward the mineral, with petrol notes, definitely unusual and maybe not for every palate. Paired with well-spiced roasted chicken, we drank the bottle dry. Garnatxa Blanca wines vary across a wide spectrum, from that as we tasted to sweet and fruity. It tends to have a fuller and rounder mouthfeel than other whites as well. Check the Wines of Garnacha website for more information on these special wines.
The reds were all over the place, so it was impossible to choose a favorite, though the bottle we drank while camping may have been the best simply due to the unique circumstance. Floral, red berry, spice, coffee, grass aromas and more were found in the bottles. Cherry, spice, dark fruit, vanilla and more flavors teased our palates. Paired with everything from hamburgers to pizza and beyond, the wines both complemented and stood up to everything we paired them with.
This is not our first time tasting Garnacha vinified on its own, and we hope it's not the last - I've worked with the Wines of Garnacha group before, and am always impressed with their dedication, professionalism, and passion regarding these wines. The best thing about these wines is their high quality to price ratio and wide ranging flavors - very affordable to drink and taste across the regions to find wines everyone can enjoy.
These wines are available world-wide. Find a Garnacha tasting near you to try these wines and buy a bottle (or 2 or 12). Hopefully you won't wait for next year's Garnacha Day to grab a bottle and delve into this unique combination of history and modern winemaking!
Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.
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