In the next issue of the Review of Washington Wines (on line Monday, August 25) there will be six Grenache wines. Grenache is a variety that is increasing in popularity. Here's a bit more about that grape.
Grenache is believed to have originated in Aragon in the twelfth century. The Spanish name is Garnacha. Over the centuries, the grape spread to Sardinia and Southern Italy which were under the rule of the Kingdom of Aragon, and then to the Langeuedoc-Roussillon, South Rhone and Provence regions of France where it was called Grenache.
Grenache is especially suited to Mediterranean climates and terroir, benefiting from the warm sun and rocky soils. The wines can be at the same time velvety and muscular. Transposed to America, the grape does well in the warm, terroir-driven parts of California and Washington.
We especially like Grenache because it fits Northwest cuisine especially well. We think it makes a better companion to salmon or chicken than Pinot Noir., And yet it can be robust enough for beef and lamb.
Here are some noteworthy producers of Washington Grenache.
The Walls - "Concrete Mama" - 2016 vintage reviewed December 2018.
Rotie Cellars - Southern Blend (70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah) - 2017 reviewed April 2019. "Little g" Grenache - 2016 reviewed October 2018.
Gramercy Cellars - "The Third Man" (75% Grenache, 13% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre) - 2016 reviewed May 2019.
Ocelli Cellars - This winery makes only Grenache, 100% varietal. - The 2014s to be reviewed in the September issue.
Isenhower Cellars - "Rara Avis" - 2016 reviewed April 2019.
Castillo de Feliciana - This Spanish varietal specialist calls it Garnacha.
Below are some Spanish, Sardinian and French Grenache wines tasted recently.
2016 Las Rocas Garnacha, Calatayud ($12.99 - Safeway) - From a region in southwest Catalonia, this shows a ruby color and smoky aromas of black cherry, black currant, plum, black roses, tobacco, Spanish lavender and incense. The flavors are intense and direct, with black and blue fruits intermixed with licorice, coffee beans and minerals. The back picks up roasted berries and nuts and burnt charcoal, followed by a ripe, chewy dryish tannin finish. Excellent value. 18/20 points.
2016 Terroir Históric Priorat ($36 - The Thief) - Priorat is situated in Aragon in the district of Zaragosa. This Garnacha is deep ruby colored and emits intoxicating aromas of raspberries, black currants, mulberries, black roses, tobacco, Spanish lavender, tarragon and wood smoke. The flavors mirror the aromatics with generous yet deep and taut red and black fruits that are infused with licorice, bittersweet chocolate, chicory coffee and fractured rock minerals. The saturation continues on the back with macerated berries, roasted nuts, fruit liqueurs and pulverized charcoal, followed by a chewy sweet-dry tannin finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Argiolas "Costera" Cannonau de Sardegna ($25 - The Thief) - The Sardinians claim the Garnacha grape (which they call Cannonau) originated on their island. But it is most likely from Aragon. This displays a deep ruby color and engaging aromas of raspberry, black cherry, plum, black roses, mulberry, lavender and incense. The flavors are medium bodied yet substantial, with notes of licorice, cocoa, medium roast coffee and stony minerals. The back picks up macerated fruits, roasted hazelnuts and charcoal, followed by a satisfying moderate tannin finish. 18+/20 points.
2016 Domaine Saint Damien Gigondas, Vieilles Vignes, "La Louisiane" ($39.99 - wine.com) - From 80% Grenache planted in 1942, plus Mourvèdre and Cinsault, this boasts a semi opaque ruby-crimson color and intoxicating aromas of wild raspberries and strawberries, black currants, lavender, forest carpet, violets and white pepper. The flavors are simultaneously muscular and velvety, with layers of red and blue fruits that are intermixed with licorice, cocoa, French roast and Montmirial minerals. The back reveals macerated fruits, roasted nuts, framboise and cassis liqueurs, charcoal and lanolin ("legs"), followed by a lingering, grainy ripe tannin finish. 19/20 points.
See last week's Review Blog for South Rhone wines previously tasted.