Garnacha tinta, wines with a Mediterranean character

Following in the steps of previous articles about the bobal and tempranillo grapes, we want to continue reviewing the main native Spanish grape varieties.

Today, we’re going to talk about the grenache grape. This variety was ousted for many years, but for some time now it has been regaining the respect it seemed to have lost.

Grenache vines in Priorat, Flickr

Grenache is a Mediterranean grape variety. It’s very strong, fruitful and resistant to drought. Its vines adapt well to sandy or stony soils. This adaptability is exemplified in the spectacular Grenache wines coming from stony soils rich in slate known as “licorella” in Priorat and Montsant.

It is believed that the Grenache grape originates from Aragón, which makes sense because there’s a huge quantity of Grenaches made in Calatayud and Campo de Borja.

Grenache grapes produce very lively, fleshy wines, full of red fruit, with a moderate colour extraction and high alcohol content. These last two factors make Grenache an ideal variety to combine with other grapes, such as tempranillo or carignan.

However, if you really want to enjoy the primary aromas of jam and spices that the Grenache grape offers us, you have to try a Grenache single-varietal. If you fancy delving into the “garnachista” world, check out these recommendations:

Baltasar Gracián Viñas Viejas 2011. Recommendations are always subjective and very personal but what if we told you this wine won the Grand Gold Medal in the International Grenache Competition 2014? This great wine from the DO Calatayud boasts a never-ending list of characteristics. Forest fruits, mineral touches, red fruits, flowers… it has everything, including a scandalous price: Only €7.75!

Sierra Cantabria Garnacha 2011. Did you know that in the 70s the most widely grown grape in La Rioja was grenache? However, its low acidity (which makes it unsuitable for long ageing) resulted in it gradually being replaced by tempranillo. Fortunately, it seems that the Rioja winemakers are showing interest in this variety again, and Sierra Cantabria Garnacha is proof of the high quality Grenache wines that La Rioja can produce.

Celler de Capcanes Cabrida 2009. From the DO Montsant comes Cabrida 2009. Cabrida is made from very old Grenache vines planted at different altitudes in a diverse range of soils – calcareous, clay and slate rich, (licorella). Complex, dense, intense, majestic. A feast for the senses. A must-try.


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