Growth in Garnacha
In a 2014 Wine Opinions survey of the wine trade, 92% of respondents felt Garnacha was the red grape from Spain with the most growth potential, and 76% of those who sold wine said they anticipated adding a Spanish Garnacha to their portfolio in the next year or two.
The Wine Opinions survey was commissioned by D.O.P. Cariñena. Cariñena has more old vine Garnacha than any other Spanish region, and has doubled its distribution partnerships in the last year.
Wine drinkers may still be accustomed to thinking of ‘Grenache’ as a Rhône grape. However, this native variety is Spain’s third widest planted red, found mostly on the high altitude Meseta and along the Mediterranean coast, from Valencia to the Pyrenées.
Garnacha first flirted with wine fame as one of the key elements in the old-vine blends of Priorat. But, it was the runaway success of affordable offerings from the hardscrabble hills of its native Aragón that paved the road to acceptance for Spanish Garnacha in the American mainstream.
The Las Rocas brand, first crafted as a label for importer Eric Solomon from Calatayud’s San Alejandro co-op and later acquired by Gallo – and the Bodegas Borsao wines from Campo de Borja like Tres Picos – took advantage of neglected old bush vines on Garnacha’s home turf in the province of Zaragoza. These wines offered stunning depth and complexity at a temptingly low price, and have opened the door for other Garnacha wines in places like neighboring Cariñena and Montsant further afield.
Author and sommelier Marnie Old is one of the country’s leading wine experts. Formerly the director of wine studies for Manhattan’s esteemed French Culinary Institute, she is best known for her visually engaging books published by DK – the award-winning Wine: A Tasting Course and He Said Beer, She Said Wine.