By Kori ~ October 14th, 2009.
Our host for the October edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere’s monthly virtual wine tasting event, is Dale Cruse of Drinks Are On Me. He selected A Grape By Any Other Name as this month’s theme and issued a semantic challenge to “taste wines labeled with their lesser-known varietal synonyms.” He also offered, “Extra points for trying BOTH the traditionally named grape AND its alternative.”
There are a number of options when it comes to varietal synonyms, Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc, and Mourvedre/Monastrell, to name a few. We decided to try a varietal that we do not have very often, Grenache/Garnacha. A couple years ago, we discovered an excellent Garnacha, Las Rocas de San Alejandro from Spain. We still had a bottle of 2004 Las Rocas in the cellar so we decided to pull it out for this WBW. Since we Wine Peeps believe in blind tastings (and always love going for bonus points), we decided to taste the Las Rocas in one of our private tasting dinners against a Washington State wine, the 2007 Chatter Creek Grenache. We really enjoyed both wines but all gave a slight edge to the Las Rocas. They were both great with Mom’s dinner of pan-seared flank steak, sautéed spinach, corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes.
Many believe that Grenache is indigenous to Spain where it is called Garnacha, but some contend that the Spanish took the vine from Sardinia during their occupation of the island. Sardinia claims the grape as its own, where it is called yet another name, Cannonau. Grenache/Garnacha is primarily a blending grape, but in recent years, more and more winemakers are producing it as a single varietal wine.
2004 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha (DO Calatayud, Spain): Deep ruby red. Red fruits, especially raspberries, earth, and Red Vines come through on the nose; red and black fruits on the palate. The thick raspberry flavors remind me a lot of Chambord liqueur. Medium to full-bodied with medium tannins and a long finish. Very smooth. Improves the longer its open.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Wine Exchange (California), $8; MAB Finer Wines (New York), $17.99
2007 Chatter Creek Grenache (Columbia Valley, Washington): Ruby red but much lighter than the Las Rocas. Aromas of red fruits and spice. Smells like Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry. More raspberries come through on the palate as well as a hint of bell pepper. Medium-bodied with soft tannins and a long, smooth, yet slightly hot, finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle), $16.99; Available elsewhere, $16 to $19
Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Grenache, Red Wine, Spanish Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25