Garnacha from Historic Cariñena
#GarnachaDay is again upon us (September 15th), so it’s highly appropriate that I recently had the chance to taste through some wines from Cariñena. Garnacha in Cariñena? Yes, confusingly Cariñena is now more about Grenache than Carignan. But such changes could be expected in a region that – literally – drips with history. In 1415, King Ferdinand I of Aragon declared his love for wines from Cariñena, saying he preferred them “above all others”. (Presumably he was talking about wines made from Cariñena.) In 1773, Voltaire wrote in acknowledgment of a gift of wines from Cariñena, "If this wine is yours, it must be acknowledged that the Promised Land is near." Fast-forward to 1932 and Cariñena became the second region in Spain to be given a “Denomination of Origin.” Today, Cariñena’s soils are home to more old vine Garnacha than anywhere else in Spain.
Bodegas San Valero 2014 Garnacha Old Vine Particular 14% $15
This brooding red was perfect with my sirloin steak. The minerally, graphite-like nose led to popping-ripe black currants and a strong note of briar patch. The moderately firm tannins and thirst-quenching acidity give the wine delineation without squelching its inherent Garnacha sappiness. Sexy and sophisticated with no overt new oak use, the finish lingers with intense flavors of licorice and black plum skin. Tremendous value!
Bodegas Paniza 2015 Garnacha Rosato 13.0% $10
This dark and lively fuschia-colored wine smells of watermelon Jolly Ranchers and strawberry cotton candy swirls. While there is full-throttle flavor, it is decidedly confected. The palate is smooth and rich. With only moderate acidity and no obvious tannins, this dense and chunky wine feels slightly cloying. Though lacking poise, this will find fans.
Drink: Through 2017
Grandes Vinos y Viñedos 2014 Corona de Aragon Old Vine Garnacha 13.5% $14
Very supple from the attack to the finish, this is a very old school Spanish red. It tastes of red fruits – especially plums and mulberries – and masses of sweet and toasty American oak. Its acidity is modest and its tannins are mild. This will likely hold several years but is already well-developed and ready to drink.