Showing posts with label Garnacha Blanca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garnacha Blanca. Show all posts

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Pleasure Of Garnacha Blanca

Wine regions that go back centuries always make me wonder what the wine tasted like back then.  I can't imagine that it was anything like today's wine, but who knows?

The Corona D'Aragon folks say that the Corona de Aragón - Crown of Aragon - spanned territories from the east of Spain to the south of Greece between the 12th and 18th centuries.  Winemaking may not have been tops on their list of things to do, but they did enough of it to earn a reputation, especially in Cariñena.

Cariñena is known for its distinct stone soils and its old-vine Garnacha and Cariñena.  It's right in the heart of the Ebro Valley in Spain's northeast region of Aragon, bordered by the Pyrenees and France to the north, and Catalunya to the east.

Today, the grapes that grow in the vineyards' stony soil are mostly Garnacha and Tempranillo, but there is some space allotted to the mineral-laden white version of Garnacha and a bit of Chardonnay.  This wine is 87% Garnacha Blanca - enough to get top billing on the label - and 13% Chardonnay.  Alcohol clocks in at 12.5% abv.  The wine is bottled by Grandes Vinas y Viñedos and shipped right out the door, with no aging.

This beautiful Spanish white wine - the 2017 Corona D'Aragon Garnacha Blanca - features a golden tint with a nose of apricots, oranges, limes and a wet driveway.  Most of that probably comes from the Garnacha Blanca, but on the palate there's a hint of tropical fruit from the 13% Chardonnay.  Minerals are in play from start to finish and the acidity rips at about a medium.  You may want some oysters or octopus with this.

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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Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer White Wines: Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Blanca, Lodi

Another virtual wine tasting event took hold of Twitter for an hour recently, and a large contingent of Lodites took to their favorite social media platform to swirl, sip and spill the beans about the amazing white wines of the Lodi AVA.  The comments put forth by the participants can be found under the hashtag #LodiLive, while full details of the event and the Twitter stream is found here.

I met Markus and Liz Bokisch once when they poured their wines in Los Angeles. They are wonderful, nice people who share a passion for wine - in particular the grapes of the Iberian Peninsula.  Markus spent childhood summers with relatives in Spain, hence the love of Spanish grapes.

The 2013 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Blanca Vista Luna Vineyard is primarily Grenache Blanc - in its Spanish depiction, Garnacha Blanca - with a 10% splash of Albariño.  Fermentation and aging was done all in steel.  The Vista Luna Vineyard is in the Borden Ranch appellation of Lodi, carries a 13.2% alcohol content and it retails for $18.

During the virtual event on Twitter, @cellarmistress commented, “This is a gorgeous wine, voluptuous mouthfeel, yum!"  @Luscious_Lushes tweeted, “Mouthfeel is rich & unctuous. I like it cold but even a bit warm its just a lovely wine.”  I always like to taste whites without a chill.  @pullthatcork posted, “Nice to see the lower ABV (13.2) What you want in a summer sipping wine."

@WineJulia thought, “It's amazing how clear the Grenache Blanc is! What a tropical beauty. Delicious” while @ChasingJen went for some food pairings: “imagine with apricots/blue cheese/honey on walnut crackers.”  @WINEormous liked it “with a smoked cheddar. It's so food friendly!”  @myvinespot offered some thoughtful tasting notes: “Stone & tree fruit, delightfully textured, fine acid structure. Very food-friendly."

This gorgeous white wine sits very pale in the glass while aromas of peaches, nectarines and lime peel waft upward.  The minerals are an olfactory treat, too.  The flavors are peachy and citrusy enough, and a strong current of minerals is in play on the palate as it is on the nose.  The acidity is razor sharp and refreshing.  It's an amazingly food-friendly wine, as the Twitter users were quick to point out.  This is a white wine that can be paired with a number of meat dishes, even red meat.  It can also refresh on a warm day, but its strong suit is accompanying food.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bokisch Wines

When you get a chance to sample wine with the winemaker, jump on it. Markus and Liz Bokisch were pouring their offerings recently at a couple of places in Los Angeles, and I caught up with them at 3Twenty South Wine Lounge on La Brea - 320 South La Brea, in fact.

Bokisch Vineyards specializes in Spanish grape varieties grown in their vineyards in Lodi, California.  Markus explains that while he was born and raised in California, he visited family in Spain quite often as a child, and formed a love of Spanish wines there.  "As kids, we were given wine with water added at meals. As we got older, there was less and less water included.  By the time we were grown, it was all wine."

"After Liz and I were married, we moved to Spain and worked in the wine industry there for a while.  We came back to California and searched for vineyard land, stopping in Lodi because it reminded us of Spain.  Also, the Spanish varieties grow well there."

Liz and Markus are an easy-going and friendly pair, and they were both happy to talk to those of us who came for the tasting.  Liz told an interesting story about the evolution of their Garnacha Blanca.  "The first vintage was way over the top," she said, "with over 15% alcohol content and a full body like a Viognier.  It wasn't a bad wine, if that's what you want, but it wasn't varietally correct.  We were taking the grapes based on how they tasted off the vine.  It took several vintages for us to learn to trust the brix and take the fruit at the right time, so we'd have it like we wanted it."  

Markus spoke of his attempts at blending his Garnacha and Graciano wines.  "That didn't work out," he explained, "because both of those grapes like to fight for territory.  They just don't match up when you try and blend them together, so we kept them apart, which is how they like it."

Bokisch Vineyard is a very small production winery, making less than 2000 cases per year in total.  The groundwork for expansion is being laid, though.  Recent new hire Kenny Stetson is now the cellarmaster, freeing Liz and Markus to focus on the winemaking responsibilities.

The couple is looking forward to pouring their wines at the annual tasting event of the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society, in San Francisco on June 9, 2012.  TAPAS is a non-profit organization devoted to Iberian varieties.  If you plan on attending, I heartily recommend you make sure to stop at the Bokisch table.

Here are the Bokisch wines I tried at this tasting event:

2011 Albariño, Terra Alta Vineyard - A very lively nose of citrus, especially grapefruit, leaps forward.  The palate shows great acidity, lovely zest and lemon lime notes with a touch of grapefruit

2011 Garnacha Blanca, Vista Luna Vineyard - The wine was served a bit too cold, and as a result the nose tight.  Again, there's a great acidity and a zesty, tropical fruit finish.

2009 Tempranillo, Liberty Oaks Vineyard - Super ripe cherries on the nose with a big palate of cherry, blackberry and plum with an amazing tannic structure and yet again - fabulous acidity.  3Twenty owner and sommelier Edgar Poureshagh told me he had decanted the Tempranillo for a couple of hours because "the tannins were rippin'."

2009 Garnacha, Terra Alta Vineyard - Blackberry, cherry, smoke and earth.

2007 Graciano Terra Alta Vineyard - A low yielding, late ripening grape, this Lodi Graciano has a nose that's dense and rich, and very earthy.  Big tannins can't hide the dark, earthy chocolate and black cherry notes on the palate.

2009 Graciano, Las Crezas Vineyard - This one shows a huge chocolate nose, with big tannins and a lovely black cherry finish.