Summer is just around the corner, and at least around these parts, it’s already gettin’ pretty darn hot.
So I wanted to get in a review of this awesome red before I lose you guys to whites and rosés entirely.
Although I stand by my conviction that you can drink red year round. Especially one this good. And yes, this is coming from a Floridian. #dealwithit
If you’ve even looked briefly in this blog’s general direction — or mine on a typical Friday night — you know that I love Spanish wines more than almost any other kind.
Spain offers a wide variety of flavors even within its single varietals: tempranillo, for instance, can be all candied red cherry or deep cooked black plum, depending on the winemaker’s choices. Spain’s whites are well-known for their food friendliness and accessibility, and cava offers some of the best bubbly for your buck. In fact, almost all Spanish wines are a bargain, especially where its most famous red grape, garnacha (which you may know as grenache) is concerned.
If you’re not familiar with garnacha, you should be: it’s a thin-skinned red grape that favors hot climates, like France’s southern Rhône. (Ever heard of Châteauneuf-du-Pape? Yep — that’s it. P.S., that’s not really how you pronounce it.)
Garnacha’s flavor profile includes red fruit and white pepper, leaning towards tar and leather as it ages. Because it lacks a bit in the way of structure, it’s often blended with a stronger, thicker-skinned grape, like syrah on the Rhône or tempranillo in its native Spain. This practice ensures that the final product will have a good scaffolding of acid and tannin on which to string garnacha’s delicate fruit flavors.
Rioja Garnacha: Hard to Get, Easy to Love
Rioja is perhaps Spain’s most famous wine-growing region, but its northerly location means it isn’t ideal for growing Spain’s most famous grape.
According to this bottle’s label (which I will shamelessly admit was a huge impetus to my picking it up in the first place, although this is generally very bad practice, because look how pretty), the grape has actually garnered an embittered nickname in the region: la maldita, or “little cursed one.”
Many growers have uprooted their finicky fields of garnacha in favor of less demanding grapes — but those who’ve stayed the course have produced a really lovely product.
This wine rings immediately of cherry, from candy to bing, and I get notes of chicory and black pepper on its medium-length finish. Although I’m pretty sure it’s not 100% garnacha, I can’t pick out the other varietal in the blend, and it leans heavily on its advertised grape: this is a pretty jammy wine. There’s decent acid, but tannin and body stay low, making it a perfect poolside sip for those of us who just won’t give up our reds, even in July.
And hey, I’ll admit: I’m a sucker for a well-marketed bottle, so long as the sexiness of the label isn’t to the exclusion of the sexiness of the wine. This red definitely has both — and once you taste it, you’d drink it from a box with a straw. Guaranteed.