You say garnacha, I say grenache
Heraclitus of Ephesus made an insightful observation 2,500 years ago when he said: “Change is constant.”
At the time, wine grapes had been harvested in his country for 4,000 years.
Fast forward to the year of my birth and our species doubled its knowledge every 25 years; now they claim it happens in 13 months!
What am I getting at? Let’s look at the changing wine market. In 1990, the top four most planted wine grapes were, in this order, airen, garnacha, rkatsiteli and sultaniye; now they are cabernet sauvignon, merlot, tempranillo and airmen.
Today, I will discuss garnacha, from the 1990 list. It was second then and today holds down the seventh spot.
I mostly associate this grape with Spain, where perhaps it all started, so I submit Torres Gran Sangre de Toro 2013.
At $20.15 it offers what Spain does best: good bottle age and a very fair price.
A beautiful deep red in colour, this offers rich aromas of berry and pepper.
Opulent flavours of racy raspberry and smooth mint penetrate the palate, leading to a juicy finish.
Torres, as is often the case, does blend other grapes with their garnacha and I suspect some syrah and carignan here.
I should mention that Drinks International awarded Torres “The World’s Most Admired Wine Brand” in 2015 and again in 2017.
Recently, they were relegated to second and Penfolds of Australia now has this top honour.
Casa Roja Maquinon Priorat Garnacha 2016 is a Spanish biodynamic powerhouse that is produced from very old vines, giving blueberries, blackberries, cherries and even dark chocolate.
This winery made the list of Wine&Spirits’ top 100 wineries in the world. Not bad considering that there are about one million producers worldwide! $28.60.
When the Pope builds a new house, what do you call it? I suggest Chateau neuf du Pape if you are in France.
The year is 1309 and the first of seven Popes has just moved to Avignon, near the Spanish border. The wise Pope decided to plant a vineyard and the grape he selected was garnacha (the French decided to call it grenache).
Today the laws of Appellation Controllee allow the use of up to 18 grape varieties in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape but this is rarely done and grenache is the leading one as it accounts for 75 per cent of all the planted area.
Interestingly, this appellation was the very first in France to establish these strict laws back in 1936. I will offer you possibly the best known of them all — located on a high hill where one of the first telegraph stations was installed in the late 18th century.
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe La Crau Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012, like most of these fine wines, proudly displays a papal tiara above the keys of St Peter, and they are embossed on each bottle.
I recently enjoyed a bottle of this “old telegraph” and found that the harmony and sheer enjoyability was wonderful to behold.
Wine Spectator magazine backs me up with: “94/100. Rock-solid with a hefty core of fig, blackberry and black cherry fruit, wrapped in chestnut and tobacco leaf notes and carrying through a lavender and tar-framed finish.
Dense and grippy, showing a slightly old-school shading. Should cellar well. Best from 2016 through 2030.” $98.05.
Then, there is the grenache that we all enjoy in copious amounts especially as the summer season looms close at hand.
I am referring to the world’s fastest-growing wine category, and since we seem to be on a religious bent, I can mention the word “angel”.
The winemaker says of his 2017 rendition: “An irresistible pink! Charming, refreshing, refined and with plenty of juicy, enticing, strawberry and berry fruit. This is a rosé that should be in everyone’s cellars, without exception.
Drinkable is an understatement and you’ll keep on coming back for seconds … We defy you to resist.”
Decanter magazine rates it 91/100 and writes: “Has always delivered a fresh and sculpted rosé, on the mineral side of fruity, with a kick of mouthwatering salinity on the finish. Feels a little more grown-up than most other rosés in this price bracket.
“A blend of grenache, cinsault, rolle, syrah and tibouren that’s supremely drinkable.”
Note that grenache leads the list of grapes and they are nearly always listed in order of their percentage of the blend.
The wine is Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel 2017 Rosé that sells for $28.55.
During the early summer, the 2018 will arrive as well as big sister Rock Angel, that we have been out of since last year, because of limited allocations.
Our Mirabeau Cotes de Provence 2017 Pure Rosé blends grenache with some syrah for wonderful cherry and raspberry flavours and a dab of rolle (vermintino) gives delicacy.
The winemaker comments: “An ethereal pale pink colour with silver reflections, this wine has the allure of a pure summer breeze.
“A complex rosé, with a pronounced mineral structure it’s characterised by elegant notes of wild strawberry, citrus, white flowers and a hint of lychee.
“Mirabeau Pure is refreshing and refined with a lingering, beautiful finish that will prolong the aromatic pleasures.
“The perfect bottle for any occasion that calls for something a little special or as a gastronomic partner to good food.
“Pair with salads, canapés, grilled white meats, fish and shellfish, sushi and Asian cuisine, fine vegetarian foods.”
James Suckling rates it 92/100 and Robert Parker, who gave it 90/100, has said: “I find myself buying more and more grenache-based wines as I get older.” Are you doing this? $24.45.
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail email@example.com or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm
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