Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The White Side Of Grenache - Spanish Garnacha Blanca

A virtual tasting event featuring Garnacha wines from Spain hit Twitter recently, with the hashtag #LoveGarnacha serving as a good way to look up the stream. Several Garnacha fans chimed in during the hour, which was moderated ably by @canterburywine. She covered everything from Garnacha Blanca to Garnacha Gris to Garnacha Noir. "There’s 1 other type of Garnacha,” she tweeted, “Garnacha Peluda, whose leaves have furry undersides." I wouldn’t think of holding that against them. She was full of fun facts, including the info that the earliest known mention of Garnacha was in 1513. Of course, "Garnacha is grown throughout the Mediterranean," she noted, "but it is originally from Aragon in NE Spain."

The wines tasted during the event were Celler Batea Vall Major Terra Alta Garnacha Blanca, Care Finca Bancales Reserva, Cruz De Piedra Selección Especial, Pdm Moncayo Garnacha and Marin Old Vine Garnacha. @chasingthevine noted that "the wines have an earthy, savory quality that is so different from the fruit-bright purity of California Grenache," which is a great reason to have a Master of Wine candidate in the group.


Celler Batea Vall Major Blanca

"Vall Major sits in a Valley in Terra Alta," @canterburywine chirped. "This 100% Garnacha Blanca is seriously savory. The vineyards are at a high elevation: 1500-2000 ft. This wine shows loads of high altitude freshness. I'm all for a nicely salted, roasted holiday ham for our white Garnacha Blanca. OR maybe a chestnut soup."

Others found the wine to be food-friendly as well. @chasingthevine liked the "appealing acidity. It's been interesting to see California, notably #PasoRobles, embrace this grape." @GrapeEXP_Cindy checked in with advice for "something salty with the Vall Major - fish stew, ham, manchego cheese."

The history of wine in the Catalonian town of Batea goes back to the Phoenicians, but Celler Batea - a collective of 101 winegrowers - was formed in the late 1950s, with their first vintage coming in 1961. Their 100% Garnacha Blanca comes from 20-year-old vines and is fermented in stainless steel, with the wine in contact with the spent yeast cells for a time. This gives weight to a wine. The Vall Major line also sports a red and a rosé. The Garnacha Blanca has an alcohol content of 13% abv and a retail price of only $8, shocking when the quality is considered. At eight bucks, you may not expect too much. This wine does bring enough to the table to qualify as a very good value, though.

The pale, yellow-gold tint is contained by a ring of faint bubbles around the rim. This white wine delivers that which I want most in a white - savory. There is a delightful scent of lanolin-meets-almonds around the whiff of apples, apricots and nectarines. The flavor profile shows the fruit with a higher profile, but an austere savory aspect still rides herd over the scene. Apricot lasts the longest on the finish. The acidity hits just the right note to make this one a good wine to pair with a holiday ham or a Friday fish.


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