The French call it Grenache and Spain calls it Garnacha, however you say it, it is undisputedly the most widely planted grape around the globe. Grenache thrives in Southern France and Northern Spain where it is most widely planted. It is the heart of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines and the soul of Priorat. Often used for blending wines, Grenache has a powerful expression all its own. Exhibiting its versatility, Grenache has a variety of profiles with sparkling, whites, rosés, reds, and fortified wines.
Grenache Noir is a charming grape with a flavor profile that exhibits big fruit qualities, like strawberries, raspberries, black cherries, cinnamon, coffee and spice. It is a juicy varietal with soft tannins and medium acidity, making it an extremely food friendly wine.
The white version of this grape is Grenache Blanc, it is medium bodied, crisp and round with notes of citrus, pear and peach, It also has herbaceous and spicy notes. It is often used as a blending grape and doesn’t get the attention it deserves, but there are some fantastic single varietals wines made from Grenache Blanc.
Garnacha originates in Northern Spain in Aragon, close to the French border. Due to its proximity to France, the grape began to migrate across the Pyrenees and found its second home in Languedoc-Roussillon, where it took on the French name Grenache. From Roussillon it traveled to Southern Rhone where it became famous in Châteauneuf du Pape.
Grenache is grown all over the world, but for today’s conversations we are going to focus on Grenache wines from 6 regions in Spain and France. These regions are exhibiting a renewed focus on Grenache/Garnacha as part of the EU quality standards (PDO and IGP). The six PDO’s are Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Calatayud, Somontano, Terra Alta, and Roussillon. These regions carry a guarantee of provenance and quality. Each PDO produces exceptional wines that represent unique profiles of their region, wines that reflect terroir and a sense of place.
European Grenache/Garnacha represents some of the oldest planted grape varietal that have bold fruits characteristic and many varied expressions. European winemakers have been working with this varietal since its origin and fully understand its complexities. Winemakers are combining modern techniques as well as staying true to old traditions, producing wines of exceptional quality. The wines are complex, structured and well-balanced.
I had the unique opportunity to have dinner with The Wines of Garnacha/Grenache from Spain and France. It was a rare and unique opportunity to see both Spain and France harmoniously present their wines. It was a very special evening to taste Garnacha made by two different countries, both with deep respect for the others wines.
A dinner on a swank rooftop in the middle of Williamsburg, with a knock out view of the Manhattan skyline, Star chef Igor Ladyjensky whipped up 6 course dinner for the evening. His inspiration was to meld the cuisines of France and Spain. To add to an already amazing evening, live Spanish guitar music was serenaded in the background by musician Rupert Boyd. Our star hosts of the evening were Eric Aracil representing Vins du Roussillon and Sofia Gonzalez from the of Wines of Garnacha.
We had six wonderful wines that represented the European quality of Grenache/Garnacha from Spain and France.
This Grenache Blanc is from Somontano. The Secastilla Valley is set high in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It is a hidden gem made with old vines that are hand-picked. It is aromatic with crisp citrus notes and a soft creamy mouthfeel. The wine was a perfect accompaniment to our first course of Octopus with lemon, parsley shrub and white grapes.
Domaine La Tour Vielles is located in a seaport town of Collioure, just north of the Spanish border in French Catalonia. The grapes are grown on really steep hillsides and are hand harvested. It’s a textured white wine with Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Macabeu and Roussanne. There is a layered texture to this wine that is rich, fresh and bright. This gorgeous wine paired eloquently with our second course of Jambon de Bayonne with country olives, petite basque and piparras peppers.
This wine is from one of the rising stars of Roussillon. It is a family run vineyard that is run by Séverine and Philippe Bourrier. This is a Grenache with a touch of Syrah exhibiting notes of black fruit and spice. The Rapsody is an incredible wine that paired beautifully with our third course of lacquered pork with celeriac gratin, caramelized carrots, marcona almond, and coriander picada.
Made in Campo de Borja, this wine is made from hand harvested Garnacha that has been cultivated for hundreds of years on this land . The Centenaria is an incredible value for the quality of wine.
Particular is a limited production wine that pays homage to the winemaker’s ancestral traditions of Cariñena. The wine is concentrated, intense and complex.
Another wine from Cariñena. This red is fit for a king. The Kingdom of Aragon was a powerful kingdom that ruled the Mediterranean in the 14th and 15th centuries. This is a blend of Garnacha from Cariñena, hand harvested from 40-year-old vines. An incredible pairing with spiced lamb, prepared with charred eggplant and seasonal mushrooms.
This wine is a tribute to the vine and to the old traditions of the picturesque village of Paniza. The wine is made from old vines of Cariñena. The wine is dark, ripe and brooding. An impressive wine for $13. Paired well with a variety of cheeses.
This wine is made with grapes from strains over sixty years old vines. The label presents a fragment of the story Brindis , by the writer and journalist Marta Rivera de la Cruz. A beautiful Garnacha from Vinos de Madrid D.O. This wine was the perfect compliment to a variety of cheeses.
Mas Amiel was the grand finale. Elegant and dense, the 1969 MILLESIME is extremely lively for its age. Its intense nose of dried figs, licorice and walnuts offers a comforting sensation. The palate is voluptuous and warm. It was a decadent pairing with Dark Chocolate and Saffron Pot de Creme
**Pictures Provided Courtesy of Lydia Lee