Monday, January 11, 2016

Garnacha: Cruz De Piedra

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 factoid 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 were Celler Batea Terra Alta Vall Major 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.

Cruz de Piedra means “Cross of Stone” in Spanish, and the name refers to the stone crosses that mark the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago de Compostela, which runs through the collective’s vineyards.  Selección Especial is made of 100% Garnacha grapes from bush vines in Calatayud that are up to 100 years old.

The grapes are fermented in concrete tanks, then transferred to new oak barrels, where malolactic fermentation occurs. The wine is in oak for a total of about 17 months. Alcohol hits 14.5%, and the retail price is $10.

It is a dark colored wine, inky indigo with no light able to break through from the other side of the glass. The is a bit of alcohol on the nose, which makes me wonder if it might not be a higher content than indicated. Aromas of blackberry, plum, vanilla and a puff of smoke make for an olfactory delight. On the palate, big dark fruit dominates even with plenty of oak spice trying to take over. There is a savoriness to it that "prettier" Grenache wines don't show. The mouthfeel is full and the tannins are quite toothy. It’s not a gentle wine. - to the extent that sipping it may offer some discomfort to tender mouths.

Better to have it with meat - meat that has fat literally dripping from it. The fat will give the tannins something to do besides prick your taste buds. A heavily marbled ribeye or smoked ribs come to mind.