Garnacha is the Spanish pronunciation of grenache, which is one of the most popular grapes you might not know much about. Originally grown in Spain, it made its way into France, Australia, and California in that order. It requires hot and dry climates, like those around the Mediterranean or the San Joaquin Valley (where I am from) in California. It ripens later than most grapes which results in high sugar levels leading to higher alcohol content. It is often used as a blending grape and is typically soft on the palate, characterized by spices and berries and has low tannin and acid levels.
I first came across the Las Rocas Garnacha at a local wine store in Gainesville, Fl. They boasted a sign that read something like “Robert Parker says this his is best find in 20 years.” I can’t find the quote now, so I am unsure of its accuracy, but I will say that the Wine Advocate has given this wine ratings of 91, 90, and 88 the last three vintages. Perhaps Parker’s quote was referring to the 2006, but at the time I was buying the 2007. After drinking one bottle at a price of $10, I went back and purchased a case. This review however is about the 2008!
I saw the 2008 at my local Von’s during the 40% off Safeway/Vons sale. I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try this wine again. It did not disappoint me, but it wasn’t quite as good as I remembered. I felt like this vintage lacked much of the character of the 2007. The nose was rampant with mineral, raspberry, blackberry, and was slightly earthy. The flavor was fruit driven, jammy and full of dark fruit. Even though garnacha’s are not typically high in acidity, it tasted somewhat acidic to me with alcohol undertones. The description doesn’t sound enticing, but sometimes I think wine reviewers overextend the profile of the wine. For example, the Las Rocas website uses flavors like Kirsch and melted licorice as descriptors. I don’t know about you, but I had to look up what Kirsch is. Apparently Kirsch is from Germany and is a colorless, fruit brandy that is not sweet and has subtle cherry flavors. That flavor did not immediately jump to mind when I sampled the wine, but I can honestly say I don’t know what Kirsch tastes like, so maybe they are correct. My point is, to me this wine is what it is, a medium bodied fruit forward wine with a pleasant aroma and a mild, but unpleasant taste of acidity and alcohol. At the price of $7, which is what I purchased it for, I will say it is very difficult to find something much better. Why over exaggerate it? It is a very versatile wine that can be paired with anything from grilled meats to seafood and just about everything in between. Cheers to a good $7 (on sale) wine!