“Grenache has basically been disregarded for the last century.
I find myself buying more and more Grenache based wines as I get older”
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate
Garnacha (or Grenache in French) is a Spanish grape used to make hearty, earthy red wines. The eastern edge of Spain produces the finest Garnacha wines in the world.
Garnacha originated in the region of what is now eastern Spain. Garnacha thrived in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon spread to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the Crown of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries. As a result, Garnacha has a long history in southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, southern Italy, Sicily, Croatia and even Greece. Garnacha also spread to non-European regions in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Australia, North Africa and California.
Garnacha has gone through several stages along the years. It has been used as a workhorse variety, and it has been blended with other varieties to produce some of the most renowned wines, but it has not stepped into the spotlight until recently.
The Wines Today
In the last 20 years, a new generation of winemakers in the original birthplace of Garnacha have taken a new approach to producing Garnacha varietal wines. By controlling yields, taking advantage of the old vines, and applying modern techniques in combination with old traditions, they are producing Garnacha wines of exceptional character and concentration.
Garnacha is now starting to come into its own as a varietal wine, and is ready to take to the world stage alongside Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Chardonnay.
Garnacha is ideally adapted to the climate of hot and windy Mediterranean valleys. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions. Its strong wood canopy and upright growth helps it resist the northerly winds in those valleys. Garnacha’s long and deep roots are well suited to water stress. In fact, Garnacha prefers hot, dry soils that are well drained, where it can concentrate flavors and aromas, especially with old vines.
Protected Designations of Origin
The five Protected Designations of Origin located in the area where Garnacha originated (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta) are working with the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union, to share information on the high-quality monovarietal wines.
By ensuring ongoing quality by relevant checks, controls and traceability systems that differentiate the products and raise their profiles, each PDO produces wines that share common traits but are unique to their region. PDO is the Protected Designation of Origin. It officially guarantees the origin and quality of products with a history and tradition behind them. The PDO was created by the European Union to help consumers by informing them about the specific features of the products, and to protect their geographical appellations.