Alto Moncayo vineyardsThe Garnacha grape, called Grenache in France, is native to Spain and makes some of the world’s most compelling wines. Spain produces many 100% Garnacha wines from multiple regions including Campo de Borja, Priorat, and Rioja.  However, in France, the A.O.P. rules typically require it to be used in blends, making it difficult to do a side-by-side comparison of Spanish versus French Grenache wines.  There are also many clones of this grape and combined with factors such as vineyard yield and terroir, wines made out of 100% Garnacha from different regions result in a fascinating spectrum of wines, ranging from very fruity and somewhat sweet, to elegant, spicy and mineral-laden.   Because France and Spain grow the most Grenache in the world, these wines can also be superb value wines.   Here are some exemplary Garnacha-based wines which give a sense of the possibilities.

Borsao GarnachaBodegas Borsao Garnacha 2015, Campo de Borja ($8.99)    A young, accessible, and fruit forward expression of the original clone of the Garnacha grape.  An excellent weeknight or party wine!    “Aromas of ripe red berries, candied licorice and pungent flowers develop a spicy nuance in the glass.  Appealing sweet cherry, raspberry and floral pastille flavors deepen and expand steadily with aeration.  Closes smooth and broad, with repeating spiciness, subtle tannins and very good, fruity tenacity.”  90 points Vinous

navaherreros garnachaBernabeleva Garnacha de Navaherreros 2014, Vinos de Madrid  $16.99 SPECIAL PRICE, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!  (regularly $23.99)  An extremely elegant 100% Garnacha from 40 to 60-year-old vines.  The winery practices organic and biodynamic viticulture, in high elevation vineyards (2300 – 3000 feet) with granitic sandy soils. Grapes are fermented using indigenous yeast in concrete, old wood or stainless steel based on the qualities of the site. No fining and no filtering. Aged in used French barriques.     2014 Navaherreros offers up a kind of pinot-esque feel with fine tannins but the crushed granite-like mineral feel says something more.  Wild, bold perfume of sweet berry fruit and spice, and on the palate, faint herbs, graphite and Chinese five spice notes.  The palate is silky but builds a fine web of lacy tannins overlaid on that fresh fruitiness.  Fine, dart-like feel through to a very, very long, puckering, stony finish.  This is a fascinating contrast to Borsao, showing the varietal differences between Spanish Garnachas.

Alto Moncayo VeratonAlto Moncayo Veraton 2013, Campo de Borja ($25.99) Produced from 50 to 70-year-old vineyards of Garnacha’s original clone.     “The 2013 Alto Moncayo Veraton, aged in 60% new French oak and 40% new American oak for 17 months and bottled without filtration. This is a blockbuster, 100 % Old Vine Grenache cuvée, with a deep-purple color, great intensity, loads of blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with licorice, lavender, and touch of graphite and earth. It is full-bodied and powerful.”    92 points Wine Advocate

Domaine garrigueDomaine “La Garrigue” Cuvee Romaine Cotes-du-Rhone 2015 ($13.99)   A blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah that spends 10-12 months in concrete prior to bottling.  Made from 60 to 90-year-old vines, it is basically a declassified Vacqueryas.  Loaded with garrigue aromas, saddle leather, Provencal herbs, kirsch and blackberry fruit, it is medium to full-bodied, layered and supple on the palate, with fine tannins emerging on the finish.  Truly a delicious and food-friendly wine, and a steal at this price!

St Cosme GigondasChateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015 ($40.00)  70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre.  “A textbook version of the brawny side of Gigondas, this offers a grippy alder bass line underneath layers of dark currant and fig fruit, while lots of tobacco, rosemary and bay leaf fill in throughout. Muscular and energetic, this is built for the cellar. 4,000 cases made.”  95 points Wine Spectator  2017 Top 100, #5

2015 was such an excellent vintage in France’s southern Rhone that we couldn’t resist including these incredible, Grenache-based wines:

vieux telegrapheDomaine du Vieux Telegraphe La Crau 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($95.00)  “The flagship wine, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape, is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 15% Syrah and 5% other permitted varieties. It features delicate floral scents and ample cherry and licorice aromas. Somehow, it manages to be full-bodied and almost creamy in texture but without much weight, then it ends powerfully, with a flourish of rich Mexican chocolate on the long, silky finish. It should drink well for up to 20 years.”  94 points Wine Advocate,  95 points Wine Spectator

Janasse Chateauneuf-du-PapeDomaine de la Janasse Vielles Vignes 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($95.00)   80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, and the rest Mourvedre and Cinsault. One of the finest run estates in all of Châteauneuf du Pape is Domaine de la Janasse, which is managed today by the brother and sister pair of Christophe and Isabelle Sabon.  Both lean towards the more finesse-driven end of the spectrum, with Pinot Noir-like textures and less overt concentration than past vintages. “The 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes is a tour de force. Raspberry and apricot-scented fruit, rich chocolate notes and an incredible whirlwind of spice are delivered in this full-bodied wine that shows no heat, just waves of flavor. It should drink well for 20 years or more.”  98 points Wine Advocate, 97 points Wine Spectator

Mark your calendar!   Next Saturday, January 27 from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., we’ll be having an in-store wine tasting with Loreto Herrero of Bodegas Frontaura and Nexus.   Stop in and taste Spanish wines from Toro and Ribera del Duero!

grilled cheese sandwichComforting, warm and satisfying, a toasted cheese sandwich is easy to make and widely adored by adults, children and elders alike.  If you saw the New York Times Food Section this week, they recommended using Mahon cheese, from the island of Menorca, in your sandwich.   We’ve been lucky enough to offer both Reserva and young Mahon for many years, and either one is truly delicious in a melted cheese sandwich.   We’ve got other great melting cheeses in stock, such as Raclette de Savoie, Gruyere, Comté Terroir and Queso Gallego.   Pick up a rustic loaf of bread, stop here for a great melting cheese and French butter, and you’re set for lunch or dinner.   Simply layer slices of cheese between pieces of bread, spread French butter on the outside and warm in a sauté in a pan until the bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.   A Grenache-based wine for the adults would be a great accompaniment.