This is the first in a series of brief posts by our colleague Mike Infante, dedicated to profiling the marvelous and – in the Americas – mysterious grape varietals elemental to Spanish wine making. Mixing a little edification with a dash of entertainment, these posts will be simple introductions to new friends: distinctive grape varietals and the intriguing Spanish wines they produce.
Meet the Garnacha
When people think Spanish wine they often think Tempranillo. Which is unfortunate, because there are other varietals which rival and often surpass the traditional standby. Case in point: Garnacha.
Garnacha is actually one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and for good reason. Known for thriving in warm weather, it’s easy to grow, easy to vinify and widely regarded as easy drinking.
Light in color, low in tannin and medium bodied (or “medium minus” as some might say), garnacha is a food-friendly super grape that not only shines as a single varietal, but also elevates blends. Replete with ripe, red-fruit flavors from strawberry and pomegranate to raspberry and bing cherry, the Granacha’s true calling card is it’s racy streak of cinnamon.
Though it’s delightfully round and zippy everywhere it’s grown, the innumerable foreign renditions of Garnacha (often spelled “Grenache”) have yet to improve on the original grapes from the ancestral homeland. In the north of Spain Garnacha is vibrantly aromatic and brightly edged in characteristic flourishes of orange. This wonderful varietal is accessible, affordable and best consumed in the bloom of youth.
Garnacha may well be the best kept secret in Spain. So set aside the Tempranillo for now – try a wonderful garnacha instead!