The best part of Halloween is seeing the costumes. At a party, you never know what people will dress as. Last week-end I saw a zombie Fred Flintstone, an Oompa Loompa and a Spy vs. Spy. But the most surprising costumes were the Downton Abbey couple. She was dressed as a chauffeur and he as the maid, the 6′ 5”, full-bearded maid. Part of the fun of costumes parties are the surprises.
Though long disputed by Italy, most would agree that Garnacha/Grenache is originally from Spain, and from there moved to the South of France and to Italy, Sardinia specifically where it is called Cannonau.
Garnacha is not a noble grape mainly because it doesn’t necessarily age well. It has low tannins and often low to medium acidity. It is often used in blends with other more tannic grapes to give the wine structure.
But, just because it is not a noble grape, does not mean that it is not a worthy grape. A typical Grenache, while low in acidity and tannin is high in alcohol and oxidizes quickly. It is a grape that thrives in the heat, thus the high alcohol. Its famous regions are Priorat, Rioja, and Navarra, in Spain, the southern Rhone Valley in France, Sardinia in Italy, and Australia, and California in the new world. Oz Clark points out that the grape can have, ‘wild, unexpected flavors.’ This is what makes the grape so intriguing. You never know quite what you’re going to get. The typical flavor profile of Grenache/Garnacha is red fruit aromas such as strawberry, sour cherry, cranberry with some purple flowers, such as violets and maybe a dash of black pepper or spice.
I tasted through several Grenache recently with my wine group. The wines were from different regions and each one had something a little different to offer. The Priorat presented a marzipan, almond, almost Amaretto flavor, a flavor most often associated with white wines. But this highly oxidative red that was aged in oak presented the unexpected. The Riaza from Lodi had a strong tea flavor. Our second Spanish wine, Fabla, had a coconut flavor. The Dolia from Sardinia had a strong coffee aroma. The French Chateauneuf du Pape was very earthy. And the Black Hand from Paso Robles had dried fruit aromas. Each wine was a little surprising.
Riaza, 2011, Lodi Clement Hills 100% Grenache. Sight: Clear, pale, garnet. Aroma: Clean condition, no off odors. Medium intensity with aromas of oak, red fruit, spice and vanilla. Developed. On the palate: dry, medium acidity, no bitterness, medium tannin, medium/high alcohol, medium plus body with medium intensity flavors of red fruit, spice, tea, and vanilla. No off flavors. Medium finish.
La Cartuja, 2012, Priorat 70% Grenache, 30% Carinena. Sight: brilliant, medium ruby. Aroma: Condition is clean with no off odors. Intense aromas of spice, black fruit and nuts. Developed. On the palate: dry with medium/high acidity. No bitterness. Medium tannins, medium alcohol. Medium/plus body, medium/plus intensity flavors of black fruit, oak and spice. No off flavors with a medium to long finish.
Fabla, 2012, Calatayud. Sight: brilliant, deep, ruby. Clean condition, no off odors. Aromas: medium intensity of black fruit, red fruit, tea, nuts and coconut. Developing. On the palate: dry with medium acidity, no bitterness, medium tannin, medium/high alcohol. The body is medium with medium intensity of red fruit, spice and earth. No off flavors. The finish is medium.
Dolia, 2012, Sardegna. Sight: brilliant, deep garnet. Aroma: clean, no off odors. Intense aromas of oak, coffee, and black fruit. Developing. On the palate: dry with medium plus acidity. No bitterness. Low/medium tannins. Medium alcohol. Medium body with medium intensity flavors of red fruit, coffee, and oak. No off flavors. Medium finish.
Telegramme, 2011, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Sight: brilliant with medium garnet color. Aroma: clean with no off odors. Medium intensity of red fruit, spice and earth. Developing. On the palate: Dry with medium acidity, no bitterness. Medium tannins, medium alcohol, medium body. Medium plus intensity of flavors of red fruit, spice and earth. No off flavors. Long finish.
Black Hand, 2006, Paso Robles. Sight: brilliant with deep garnet color. Aroma: clean, no off odors. Intense aromas of butter, oak and red fruit. Developed. On the palate: Dry with medium high acidity. No bitterness, medium tannins, high alcohol, medium plus body, medium plus intensity with flavors of oak, red fruit and dried fruit. No off flavors. The finish is medium.
Happy Halloween! Enjoy the surprises.