The Reign in Spain: five bottles of garnacha to get you through what’s left of winter

The Reign in Spain: five bottles of garnacha to get you through what’s left of winter

Grenache, or garnacha, is like the white T-shirt of the wine world: low-priced, beloved, and it goes with everything

The Reign in Spain

Garnacha is one of the world’s most undervalued and prolific grapes. The low-acid, high-sugar, fruity variety can suffer from over-sweetness and brash mocha flavours in the hands of producers looking to maximize its commercial appeal. Not so with these bottles from Spain, which are sourced from 40-, 60-, 80-, even 100-year-old vines. Pair them with almost anything: ribs, wings, pulled pork, mac and cheese, meatloaf—or no food at all. At these prices, you might consider buying a case to take you through the winter.

1 Santo Cristo 2012 Selección Garnacha
$13.50 | Campo de Borja | 88 points

I like to think of this as garnacha unplugged. Not a stick of wood is used to produce the fruity red, with its cherry pie aromas and white pepper spice. It’s full-bodied, with dusty tannin and wet stone on the finish. Order by the case from John Hanna and Sons, 1-800-337-7043.

2 Beso de Vino Old Vine 2011 Garnacha
$9.95 | Cariñena | 88 points

Winemaker Marcelo Morales makes his garnacha with fruit from 40-year-old vines, then judiciously ages it for four months in new French oak. The 2011 version offers classic grenache smoothness and richness while flirting with confection. It’s an excellent buy for under $10. LCBO 253591

3 Viñas Viejas de Paniza 2012 Garnacha
$17.95 | Cariñena | 90 points

This garnacha has been aged six months in French and American oak, filling in the very ripe, sweet cherry fruit with nuanced spice and vanilla. It’s full-bodied and evenly balanced. Some tannin means it will age two to three years. Christopher Stewart Wines, 416-844-9623.

4 Castillo de Monséran 2013 Garnacha
$9.95 | Cariñena | 88 points

This huge-value garnacha delivers a mouthful of juicy bumbleberry pie. There’s no discernible oak but all kinds of floral fruit along with some trademark white pepper. It’s smooth, perhaps a touch sweet but not overly so. Another excellent-value buy under $10. LCBO 73395

5 Las Rocas 2011 Garnacha
$15.80 | Calatayud | 87 points

Las Rocas is a prominent winery in the small but highly regarded appellation of Calatayud. Its 2011 garnacha is a soft version that shows ripe strawberry and cherry fruit embellished with oaky vanilla, spice and a smidge of earthiness. It’s mid-weight, pleasant and perfect for drinking now. LCBO 269977