Garnacha (otherwise known as Grenache or Grenache Noir in France, or Cannonau in Sardinia) is one of the more underrated red grapes. Sure, it figures heavily into Southern Rhone wines such as Côtes du Rhône, but not many people seem to automatically consider it a power player as a single grape varietal. Ask the average American male about red wine, and chances are, he’ll name Pinot Noir, Merlot, or maybe Cabernet Sauvignon. He might even say something like “Oh yeah! Sideways!” which doesn’t capture the spectrum of wine at all. Good movie, though, despite the plunge in Merlot sales.
But returning to the task at hand, Grenache/Garnacha is delicious. It is a ripe, juicy, playful grape that pummels you with fruit aromas, but has wonderful acidity to back up all that dark berry swagger. Let’s put it this way: while I wouldn’t want Grenache watching my back in a fight, I would want it providing the smack talk. It’s that kind of wine. And Spain is for me the spiritual home of this grape; I love the way it adapts to such a hot and dry climate. The concentration provided by the long ripening period is one of the main reasons Spanish reds often remain such a good value.
The 2008 Borsao “Tres Picos” Garnacha is a tremendous value; for the price, I can’t think of many other red wines that deliver so well, and so consistently. “Tres Picos” translates to “Three Peaks,” presumably referring to the winery’s location in the Moncayo region, which is full of rolling hills ideal for growing grapes. This is an old vines Garnacha; all of the vines producing these grapes are at least 50 years old. Half a century has given them the capability to imbue the resulting wines with great depth of flavor.
And what flavors! An inky purple in the glass, this wine swirls into a nose abounding with dark dusty cherries, raspberry jam, and various herbal and spice notes, including allspice, lavender, and rosemary. There is also a definite hint of black pepper here, which I find really attractive in reds. Rhone valley, anyone? But quite different in style. Full-bodied, supple, and feeling really round in the mouth, the fruit is kept just in check by balanced acidity, finishing smooth and strong at medium length with more red berry and earthy notes. “Tres Picos” is very modern in style, but not clunky; the flavors are well-integrated for the quality level of the wine. Buy a case of this, and pair it with your favorite roast. $15.