Grenache Day - comparative tasting of the Garnacha/Grenache variety

Grenache Day - comparative tasting of the Garnacha/Grenache variety

Today, September 16th, the third Friday in September, is Grenache Day.

Also known as Garnacha (Spain appellation), Alicante, Aragones or Cannonau, Grenache (France appellation) is a thin-skinned, late-ripening grape variety that needs a warmer, drier climate and is drought tolerant. It produces wines with high alcohol, low acidity and soft tannins, wines that tend to mature quickly. The grape is used a lot for rosé wines, as well as in red wine blends.

In Priorat region of Spain, where there are still old vines (with low yield, resulting in grapes with more concentrated flavors), this grape is used to make full-bodied, intense and complex red wines.

I had the opportunity to taste in parallel 4 red wines of this variety, 2018 harvest, produced by Celler de Capçanes, a winery located in the Priorat region, Spain. All the wines were 100% Garnacha grapes, were produced in the same way (alcoholic fermentation in 500 liter oak barrels and aging for 4 months also in oak barrels, but this time 228 liter) and had the same percentage of alcohol: 14.5%. What was different was the soil from which the grapes came from: slate (licorella), sand, limestone & clay.

Below you will find my tasting notes for each individual wine with the mention that the wines were tasted at 16° Celsius.

La nit de les Garnatxes SLATE (predominant slate soil, or "Licorella" as the winery calls it): was the first wine tasted. For the beginning I looked at the color of all the wines in the glass and of the 4, this one was a little darker. They were all a medium ruby red, but if I think about the color tones, this one produced on the slate ground was a shade darker than the others.

The smell had notes of sour cherries, bitter cherries and ...stone (I could call it "minerality", but I think "stone" is easier for everyone to understand). The taste was clearly of sour cherries and bitter cherries, but what was mostly obvious was the minerality. I felt the 14.5% alcohol quite well at first, but after eating something neutral (simple breadsticks, without salt or anything else added), I didn't feel it so much anymore.

La nit de les Garnatxes SAND (sandy soil): was the second wine tasted. The color still medium ruby red, the predominant smell of red fruits, but this time I didn't feel minerality anymore. The taste was clearly of sour cherries (the first ones picked that year according to the producer's note) and, compared to the previous wine, it was as if the fruits were a bit more ripe. I would say it was more "juicy" than the previous wine, something that was to be repeated with the following wines, with a little something added.

La nit de les Garnatxes LIMESTONE (calcareous soil): the color was still medium ruby red and the difference in smell was that the identified red fruits (cherries and bitter cherries) seemed very ripe. The grapes were probably picked a little later and accumulated more sugar. What I also felt about this wine were some floral notes of violets in the nose. The taste was dominated by very ripe cherries and I felt the wine as "juicy" as the previous one. The aftertaste was just as long.

La nit de les Garnatxes CLAY (clay soil): it was the last wine tasted, and of all, the color seemed to me a lighter tone compared to the previous ones, but the smell and the taste I felt overripe fruit. At first glance, I felt a certain "sweetness" in the smell, but it was not a sweet wine (the wine is dry, just like the others), but a sweetness given by the ripeness of the grapes.

Each wine mentioned above had a long aftertaste. The general notes were sour cherries and bitter cherries with a few other flavors added at times as described above. I find tasting these wines in parallel is a very good exercise to experience the differences in soils and to better understand why wines of the same variety produced in different conditions/countries taste differently.

If you also want to try these wines you can find them in TheWinederers online wine shop. Add the code WINESDAY10 to your order and you will get a 10% discount (the discount cannot be combined with other discounts on their website), so here it is one more reason to order and try all 4 wines.

Carmina Nițescu & Winesday App

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