Posts Tagged ‘#GrenacheDay’

Thinking About Grenache with Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha

September 22, 2018 3 comments

Grenache. Garnacha. Garnatxa. One of the 10 most popular red grapes in the world, one of the most planted grapes in the world (according to the Court of Master Sommeliers, “world’s most widely planted grape”). Some call it “unsung hero”; I generally designate it as King of the Blends. While Grenache can perfectly perform solo (think about Sine Qua Non, Horsepower, No Girls, Bodegas Alto Moncayo, some of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape), it typically plays its part in the blends – that’s what “G” stands for in all of the GSM renditions, whether coming from Australia, Southern Rhône, Southe Africa, or California; it helps with Rioja and Priorat, and with lots of other wines.

Yesterday, wine lovers celebrated International Grenache Day, which prompted some thoughts on the subject. As I confessed many times, I like aged wines. Of course, I thoroughly enjoy the exuberance of the young wines, but my honest preferences are with the wines which gain some complexity after been aged. Out of 10 most popular grapes – Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Malbec, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Syrah/Shiraz – Grenache is the one which concerns me the most with its ageability. Of course, the Grenache wines produced by Sine Qua Non, Horsepower, Bodegas Alta Moncaya Aquilon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Clos des Papes or Domaine de la Janasse can age perfectly for a very long time – but all of these wines will set you back for hundred(s) of dollars, so their ageability is rather expected. Meanwhile, I had lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Syrah (oh well, pretty much all of those 10 major grapes), priced in the $15-$25 range and age beautifully (here is one example for you) – but I don’t have a great luck with aged Grenache in that price category – maybe because the most of it comes in the blends (don’t try aging Côtes du Rhône reds – it is just not going to happen).

If you are an oenophile who can spend 15 minutes pulling back and forth numerous bottles in your cellar, unable to decide what to open for the evening, I’m sure you really appreciate the grape holidays. Your selection shrinks down, as now only the appropriate bottle can be opened, so the life becomes much easier. This recent Grenache Day gave me a good reason to finally open the bottle of the 2011 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Terra Alta Vineyard Clements Hill Lodi (14.5% ABV, $25) – I had this bottle in my hands a few times this year, but always put it back as “not this time” object.

Lodi was one of my relatively recent discoveries as one of the very best wine regions in California, and in the US in general – both with the wines and with the people who make the wines there. Lodi might be most famous for its Zinfandel vineyards, but it is really a capital of Mediterranean grape varieties in the USA, and so Lodi Grenache is something to look for as a category. And if Lodi is the capital, Markus Bokisch might well be the king of those Mediterranean varieties – he started planting Spanish varieties in Lodi back in 1999 and only made his first Zinfandel wines a few years back. Markus’s range includes all best-known Spanish varieties – from Albariño and Verdejo to Garnacha, Monastrell, Tempranillo, and Graciano.

In a word, I made an excellent choice of the celebratory wine for the International Grenache Day, as the wine was beautiful from the get-go. Garnet color; espresso and mint jump right out of the glass, intense aroma, tar, a whiff of the dark chocolate came as the second layer, minerality, spices – I could actually smell this wine for about … forever. The palate? Wow. Tart blackberries, tobacco, a touch of pepper, bright acidity, perfect firm structure, delicious. The wine was going and going, further opening up over the next two days and showing the smoke and rocky minerality which I previously experienced with No Girls Grenache (here is a bonus, Bokisch Garnacha is only a quarter of a price of No Girls Grenache). Drinkability: 8+/9-. The wine was a perfect example of Grenache which can age – and could’ve waited for longer to be opened, for sure – but it was definitely enjoyed (of course this was my only bottle, you don’t need to ask).

What do you think of Grenache? Do you have a favorite Grenache wine or a region? Cheers!

Time to Celebrate Grenache – 2017 Edition

September 15, 2017 4 comments

This year, I managed to miss lots of the “grape day” celebrations. Well, life takes precedence. But – we have enough grapes to celebrate, and I’m glad to partake in festivities in honor of one of my most favorite grapes – Grenache, a.k.a. Garnacha, and sometimes a.k.a. Garnatxa (hmmm, should I also mention Cannonau?).

Grenache is one of the most versatile grapes I know, and the word “versatile” here truly has multiple meanings. Grenache does perfectly in the “old world”, producing delicious wines in France (think Southern Rhone and Languedoc), all over Spain, and Sardinia in Italy. It reaches incredible heights in the “new world”, producing cult level wines in Australia and the USA (Sine Qua Non, anyone?). Grenache wines are delicious in its purity, made out of 100% of the grape; Grenache also performs splendidly in a band, often known as GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre) blend, where it can play multiple roles, from leading to minor and supportive. Yes, it is one versatile grape.

Grenache from Carinena

When it comes to Grenache, especially on its special day, the province of Aragon in Northern Spain deserves special mention. It is widely considered that the Kingdom of Aragon was a birthplace of Grenache, and from there the grape took on to Italy and France, before conquering the rest of the world. In Aragon, 4 wine regions – DOs of Cariñena, Somontano, Calatayud, and Campo de Borja – produce what we can call a “classic Grenache” (I guess “classic Garnacha” would sound more appropriate), boasting some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world.

We can’t celebrate with an empty glass, can’t we? For this special day, I would like to share with you the notes for 3 of the “classic Garnacha” wines, coming exactly from the DO Cariñena in Aragon:

2015 Paniza Garnacha Rosé Cariñena DO (13% ABV)
C: deep pink
N: fresh strawberries, berries and leaves
P: fresh strawberries all the way, succulent, generous and round. Perfect presence in your mouth.
V: 8-/8, delicious wine

2014 Bodegas San Valero Particular Garnacha Cariñena DO (14%ABV)
C: garnet
N: fresh plums, mocha, eucalyptus, inviting
P: tart cherries, clean acidity, fresh present tannins, touch of blackcurrant, a bit of white pepper
V: 8-, perfectly playful, very good wine.

2014 Corona D Aragon Old Vine Garnacha Cariñena DO (13.5% ABV)
C: very dark garnet, practically black
N: sandalwood, spices, dark chocolate, touch of roasted meat
P: medium body, good acidity, touch of cherries, fresh, hint of dark chocolate
V: 7+/8-, nice rendition

What is in your glass? How do you celebrate the noble grape? Happy Grenache Day! Cheers!

Fun #GrenacheDay Celebration on Snooth

September 17, 2016 2 comments

Does Grenache, a.k.a. Garnacha, deserves its own celebration? It used to be the third most planted red grape in the world (in the year 2000), and the most planted red grape in Spain; now it is 5th most planted red grape in the world, and second most planted in Spain. In this particular case, size might not matter (how many of you drunk the wines made from Airen, the most planted white grape in the world?) – what important is that Grenache is an essential part of lots of amazing wines, coming from everywhere in the world – France, Spain, California, Washington, Australia, Italy, there is really no limit here. Grenache is capable of amazing solo performances (think Clos Erasmus, Sine Qua None, No Girls), but more often than not, it is a great team player (Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone, Australian GSM and thousands of others).

Yes, Grenache is worthy of a celebration. Grenache wines are quite mendable at the hands of the winemaker, giving you a wide range of expressions. What is even more important, unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, even budget level Grenache wines (read: less than $10 a bottle) are very enjoyable, especially when they come from Spain. And don’t forget that under the word “Grenache” there can be three different grapes – Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris (rare), and Grenache (or Garnacha Tinta).

spanish grenache wines

A large group of “winos” assembled last night on Snooth, one of the leading online wine communities, to discuss virtues of Grenache grapes and, of course, to taste some Grenache wines. All the Grenache wines in the tasting came from Spain, two white Grenache Blanc and three of the 100% Grenache reds. Not only the wines were tasty, all of them also represented great value and great QPR, all priced under $14. The discussion was hosted by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec and Master of Wine Christy Canterbury – but to be very honest, the online discussion felt to me more like a wine bloggers conference attendees’ reunion, with lots and lots of familiar “voices” in the chat room, so I had a hard time paying attention to the presentation and was more focused on multiple dialogs taking place at the same time. Either way, it was a great fun, and wines perfectly supported the conversation.

Here are my notes for what we had an opportunity to taste:

2015 Cellers Unio closDalian Garnacha Blanca Terra Alta DO (12.5% ABV, $9, 100% Garnacha Blanca)
C: pale straw
N: intense, aromatic, white stone fruit, citrus
P: white fruit, lemon, herbal undertones, good acidity, fresh
V: 7+, very nice, food friendly (many people in the chat craved oysters)

2013 La Miranda Secastilla Garnacha Blanca Somontano DO (13.5% ABV, $14, 4 month in French Oak)
C: light golden
N: intense, vanilla, freshly crushed berries, golden yellow raisins, borderline Riesling profile with touch of petrol
P: plump, good body weight (medium to full), crisp acidity on the finish, round, firm structure – outstanding
V: 8, excellent overall

2015 Castillo de Monséran Garnacha Cariñena (13% ABV, $9)
C: dark Ruby
N: intense, freshly crushed berries, young
P: sweet fruit (restrained, not overly) with surprising structure and good acidity on the finish. Distant touch of earthiness and smoke.
V: 7+, simple and pleasant

2015 Evódia Varietal de Aragon Red Wine (15% ABV, $9, 100 years old vines, high elevation 2400–3000 ft)
C: Dark Garnet
N: very intense pure nose of fresh blueberries and blueberry pie, you don’t even need to be next to the glass
P: layered, soft, velvety, roll-off-your-tongue mouthfeel, fresh black fruit in background
V: 7+, needs time

2014 Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria Campo de Borja DO (14% ABV, $14, 100% Grenache, more than 100 years old vines, 4 months in French oak)
C: garnet
N: lavender, anise, cherries, fresh, intense
P: smoke, earthiness, sage, roasted meat, sweet fruit and tobacco finish, wow; added peppery notes on the second day
V: 8+, outstanding complexity, amazing value

I would like to thank kind folks at Snooth for arranging this fun tasting and providing such an excellent selection of the value Grenache wines.

How did you celebrate #GrenacheDay? What was your most memorable Grenache wine ever – if you have one of course? Cheers!

[Wednesday’s] Meritage – Grenache Day, SHARE Campaign, Discover Georgia in New York

September 17, 2015 1 comment

ANNA-SHARE-v2Yes, I’m aware that this is very much not Wednesday, nevertheless – Meritage Time!

First of all – tomorrow, Friday September 18th, we will be [once again] celebrating the grape – this time, it is Grenache, a.k.a. Garnacha. Grenache definitely is one of the wine world’s darlings, enjoying huge popularity everywhere – France, Spain, California, Washington, Australia, South Africa. Whether part of a blend or playing solo, Grenache offers tremendous range of expressions and can easily be one of the most versatile red grapes. So tomorrow, grab a bottle of your favorite Grenache wine, join the festivities, and of course, share it with the world – use tag #GrenacheDay on Twitter or Instagram. You can also check out Grenache Day website and Facebook page.

While this might be “an obsession of oenophile”, I can’t help but to notice how often wine is a subject of many “do good” initiatives – charity auctions, fund raisers. “drink for a cause” events. Here I want to bring to your attention one of such “do good” initiatives – partnership between Anna Codorniu, one of the best Cava producers from Spain, and SHARE, “a national organization that provides informed peer support, empowerment and educational resources to women affected by breast and ovarian cancers”. To support this cause, Anna Codorniu created special campaign called “Message on a Bottle” – I very rarely cite text from press releases, but let me just include this passage as a reference: “Anna de Codorníu will encourage consumers to engage with SHARE through the Message on a Bottle campaign encouraging consumers to write their messages of hope on the Anna bottle and connect with #SHAREANNA on social media. In-store displays and bottles will prominently feature information about SHARE, to access their services and become more involved. On September 21, Anna de Codorníu Brut and Brut Rosé will be served at the 12th Annual A Second Helping of Life benefit in New York City, featuring top chefs such as April Bloomfield, Anita Lo and Christina Tosi. (”.

Last week I mentioned that Georgian Food and Wine event will take place in New York city on September 25-27, at Chelsea Markets – and here is the link for more information. Georgian hospitality is second to none, so if you have a slightest possibility of attending the event, I would highly recommend that you will make an effort to visit Chelsea Markets and experience #GeorgianBazaar firsthand.

And that is all I had for you for today. The glass is empty, but refill is on the way. Cheers!


Thank you, #GrenacheDay

September 19, 2014 2 comments

September 19th was yet another “wine holiday” – the Grenache Day. Grenache, which is known in Spain as Garnacha, needs no introduction for the oenophiles. One of the most planted red grapes in the world. A star of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorat, California, Australia and many other countries and regions. A grape with the middle name “rich and opulent” (when was the last time you had a lean Grenache wine? No rush, think about it…). If big wines are your territory, Grenache is definitely your grape.

So what this “thank you” all about? Easy, let me explain. When I know about the certain “grape day”, I usually try to honor it by opening the wine made with that specific grape. Considering the connotation of the “holiday”, I also look for the somewhat of a special bottle. I’m not saying that I would casually open DRC for the Pinot Day (I wish I would have that choice), but still, it should be an interesting bottle. Talking about the holiday at hand, #GrenacheDay, I realized that Grenache is grossly underrepresented in my cellar. Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo, Zinfandel – plenty of choice, Grenache – not so much. Searching through the shelves, I noticed the bottle of 2006 Pax Cuvée Moriah. Checked the back label – 88% Grenache, definitely qualifies as Grenache for me. 2006 is considered young in my book, but – either that or some random non-grenache bottle. Done.

Pax Cuvée Moriah Sonoma CountyOkay, so here is our wine – 2006 Pax Cuvée Moriah Sonoma County (15.9% ABV, 88% Grenache, 6% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah, 2% Counoise, 1% Roussanne). Cork is out, pour in the glass, swirl, smell. Beautiful. Bright fruit, spices, herbs – a delicious promise. On the palate, great concentration, big, texturally present, roasted meat and bright cherries, clean acidity, an excellent wine overall. Drinkability: 8+

I stepped away from my glass with a small amount of wine left in it. Come back 15-20 minutes later, ready to finish. Swirl, sip – the wine is past prime. Touch of stewed fruit and over-ripe plums. The wine completely transformed. So here is the “thank you” part. If it wouldn’t be for the “grape day”, I would still be waiting for the right moment. Only to find out at some point that all the pleasure was gone, without been experienced. Thanks to the #GrenacheDay, we were able to experience this wine still at its peak (it was only a tiny amount in the glass which turned around).

Let’s raise the glass to the grape holidays, the experience savers. Cheers!

Re-post: Affordable Luxuries of the Wine World: Garnacha versus Grenache

September 20, 2012 3 comments

During 2011 I wrote a number of posts for the project called The Art Of Life Magazine – of course talking about my favorite subject, wine. The project closed, but I still like the posts I wrote, so I decided to re-post them in this blog. Also, in that project, posts were grouped into mini-series, such as “Affordable Luxuries” you see here – I will continue re-posting them from time to time.

If you are interested as to “why now”, it is simple – Friday, September 21st is International #GrenacheDay – and I don’t have time to write the whole new post. I think this re-post will fit the bill quite well. Here it is.

So far we talked about and compared Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage wines, as well as sweet wines in our quest for “affordable luxuries” of the wine world. If you remember, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage are made out of the grape called Syrah. Today we are going to talk about Syrah’s brethren (totally unrelated, though), the grape which is often blended together with Syrah – we are going to talk about Grenache.

Grenache is one of the main winemaking red grapes in the world. It used to be the most planted red grape in the world, with biggest planting area being in Spain (Spain actually has the biggest area planted with grapes in the entire world). Grenache, which is known under the name of Garnacha in Spain, lost its “biggest plantings” status in Spain as a lot of vineyards were replanted with other grapes, such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and France took “the most planted” helm now.

Grenache is used in winemaking both by itself and as part of the blend. In Spain, Grenache, or rather Garnacha, is main ingredient of the blend in wines of Priorat, many of which have cult status, such as Clos Mogador. In another region, Campo de Borja, it produces amazing single grape wines, for instance, at Bodegas Alto Moncayo. In France, it is a key ingredient in wines of Southern Rhone, with Chateauneuf-du-Pape being most famous – there it is typically blended with Syrah. It is also used in production of Rose wines in Provence. In Australia, it is used in so called GSM wines, where GSM is simply an abbreviation for Grenache Syrah Mourvedre, three grapes used in production of the GSM wines. In California, it is very successfully used in production of the Rhone-style wines mostly in the Central Coast area, with many of the wines also achieving a cult status (which simply means that production is limited and wines are very hard to get – of course because they are good). As usual, you can take a look at the Grenache article in Wikipedia, which provides great depth of information.

When it comes to “affordable luxuries”, there are plenty of wines which can be compared. As this is Grenache versus Garnacha battle, let’s focus on pure Grenache wines. Of course blends would be fun to look at as well, but finding some of the better ones is a challenge in itself, so let’s stay our course.

So today’s contenders are: 2009 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha Campo de Borja from Spain and 2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel Cuvee Alexis Establet Chateauneuf-du-Pape from France. It can’t get any better than that – we have here if not two of the best, then at least two of the most classic areas to produce Grenache wines. Both wines are 100% Grenache – which is very unusual for Chateauneauf-du-Pape, where blend can contain up to 13 different grapes.

Let’s start with 2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel Cuvee Alexis Establet Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The wine is unfortunately way too young (give it 8-10 years, if you have enough patience, of course), but it was very drinkable from the get go – at least you get a punch of tannins at about 10 seconds after the first sip. It is very classic Grenache, with purple color, violets on the nose, and perfect balance of fruit and acidity. Don’t want to repeat myself, but it will be gorgeous – given enough time to mature.

2009 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha Campo de Borja is a full bodied wine, with hint of earthiness on the palate, with lots of dark fruit and hint of pepper. You can also detect violets, hint of cedar, spice box and tar. With supple tannins and medium finish, this wine is more approachable now than the previous one, but will also improve with time.

Is one of those wines better than the other? It is very hard to tell. And for the affordable luxuries, Tres Picos Garnacha costs about $12, and Domaine du Grand Tinel is about $70, so make your choice. And while you will be deciding, I’m going to raise my glass to the pleasures of wine discoveries – cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #GrenacheDay, #ChampagneDay, WTSO Full-On and more

September 19, 2012 15 comments
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Meritage Time!

So, what do you think of Wine Quiz #29, A Guessing Game? I now understand that I goofed up with my logic (not the first time; sigh) and the way second question was asked implied the answer for the first – so I definitely have a room for improvement. I still hope it was fun, and – we have a winner!

Both reviews included into the post were for the same wine, 2001 La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial – the first one was written by Robert Parker, and second was Stephen Tanzer’s review. And the winners are (drumroll, please) whineandcheersforwine and thedrunkencyclist – both were able to correctly answer all three questions including the bonus part. Well done! As a side note, this is one of the best Rioja wines you can find for the money – it will cost you between $25 and $30, it drinks perfectly now, and will be for the next 20-30 years.

And now let’s move on to the interesting news section.

On October 2nd, the greatest purveyor of the QPR wines, Wine Til Sold Out, says “Make room in your cellars”, and I say “hold on to your wallets” – Full-On Marathon is coming. Starting at 6 AM Eastern time, WTSO will be offering wines staring from $15.99 and going all the way into the hundreds of dollars. The event will end at midnight on the same day. Knowing WTSO, this will be one amazing event which will put your family finances in a grave danger – but if anything, it will be fun to watch!

I almost missed it (changing the post after it was out) – International #GrenacheDay is coming on Friday, September 21st! There is not much time left – find that Grenache bottle and get ready to celebrate!

Champagne lovers, your special day is coming! 3rd annual #ChampagneDay will be celebrated through all social media outlets on October 25th – you can find your invitation here. You have enough time to be well prepared – start thinking about that special bottle.

There is an interesting debate going in regarding the actual state of the wine blogging – best of the best are trying to figure out if it is dead or alive (as I’m writing this post, I would consider it quite alive, but what do I know…). Here are couple of viewpoints: Joe Roberts, a.k.a. 1WineDude, and Steve Heimoff. If you have an opinion – write a blog post, join the debate!

Last but not least, St. Emilion region in Bordeaux has a new classification – you can read more about it here in Dr. Vino’s blog post.

We are done here – the glass is empty – for the moment, of course. Cheers!

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