My first tasting series for cheap wine ratings is Grenache (Garnacha en Español). Grenache is a superb everyday wine. It also tends to be a ”drink it now” wine versus an aging wine. At least I don’t know of anyone who’s aging Grenache and the older bottles that I’ve tasted haven’t held up. But bottles in the 2-3 year range are outstanding and affordable. In fact, nearly every bottle of grenache that I found in my search was within my $10 target price.
Grenache is one of my favorite “value wines,” so I thought it would be appropriate to be the first varietal I write about.
Altogether I tasted 16 different Grenaches. Some were outstanding, some were mediocre, but none of them were undrinkable (other than one bad bottle, but I do think it was just a bad bottle - not a bad batch). I included pure Grenache as well as some Grenache Blends, but I will break out the results of the blends separately from the pure Grenache wines.
The majority of the wines I tasted were Spanish Garnacha, although I included a couple blends from Australia. But I was unimpressed by the Australian Grenache. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, “Grenache is probably the most widely planted variety of red grape in the world.” I was surprised to read that. Perhaps that’s why it’s so affordable.
My favorite pure Grenache and my favorite bottle overall in Project Garnacha was Yasa Garnacha 2003. This is a great wine. It has an amazing herbal bouquet and a complex, interesting flavor. It has nice berry flavor with an herby/peppery twist. I really enjoy this wine. This is more than an everyday wine, it is exciting. I kept saying, “Wow! That is incredible!” as I drank this wine. I gave Yasa a 92. That said, I have since had the 2004 Yasa and was not as impressed. The 2005 should be available soon and from what I hear, it should be more like 2003.
My favorite Grenache Blend was Abrazo 2002. This is a nice wine. It has very prominent black cherry flavor, nice tannins. Good flavor all around. I definitely recommend this wine and gave it a 91.
Other Grenache Worth Mentioning
My other picks were all pure Grenache:
- ía Garnacha (2004) 89: This is the only 2004 Grenache to make my list. This is probably the spiciest Grenache I have tasted. It still had good fruit flavors, primarily cherry. But it was the pepper and crisp acidity of this wine that I enjoyed most.
- Garnacha de Fuego (2005) 89: Drinking this wine furthers my appreciation for old vines grenache. This is an intense wine. It has a lot of flavor and high alcohol to boot. The bouquet is nice, as is the acidity. It has good cherry flavors without being overly fruity. The finish is slightly peppery. Very good.
- Borsao (2005) 89: This is a nice wine. It has a full flavor, nice acidity, a bit of a fruit bomb. Very drinkable. Quite enjoyable. This wine is a sure bet if you like Grenache.
Viña Borgia (2005) 88: Wow. At $5.99 I was surprised how much I enjoyed this wine. I had to buy two more bottles to make sure it was as good as I thought. One of the bottles had a hint of carbonation, but it wasn’t bad. Some call that “effervesence” — it sounds nicer that way. This wine has a great flavor, although a little sweet for my taste. But the price makes it all more enjoyable. This one wins for best value, although I’d gladly spring a couple more bucks for one of the other picks.