Welcome to Spain, where we think Garnacha (Grenache) originally came from, before it emigrated and conquered the world, much like us Irtish. There are a load of clonal varieties of Garnacha, in Spain as you’d expect for a country that is touted as it’s home. The thin-skinned, dark-coloured Garnacha Tinta (sometimes spelled Tinto) is the most common. Another interesting variety, known as Garnacha Peluda or “Hairy Grenache” due to the soft downy texture on the underside of the vine’s leaves is also found in Spain, mostly in Priorat. Widely planted in northeastern and central Spain, Garnacha was long considered a lowly workhorse grape, for blending like in France.
But the success in recent years of the wines of Priorat in particular but also Terra Alta and other Catalonian regions has led to a new interest in this workhorse grape. It is coming back into fashion and with a total of around 203,300 acres planted in Spain it one of the countries most planted grape varieties. Garnacha can be found widely in the wines of Rioja (Blended with Tempranillo), in the bordering Navarra region, where it accounts for over half the vines planted. It is also widely planted in central Spain’s vast tracts of vineyards. But it would appear to produce it’s best results in the Northeastern region of Catalonia, in the area known as Priorat in particular.
Ampelographers (them who study grapes and their DNA, so we don’t have to!) believe Garnacha has had a presence in the Priorat for several hundred years (possibly nearly 800 years). A wave of ambitious young wine makers rediscovered the low-yield, bush-vine Garnacha planted on the llicorella based soils in Priorat. This unique combination produces dense, rich concentrated and dark-coloured wine with noticeable tannins. Traditional Priorat wine is almost black in color and require years of aging before it would be approachable to drink, like really good Bordeaux or Burgundy. But regions such as Terra Alta near Priorat are also producing interesting Garnacha in the more modern easy-going and fruity style wines that we have become accustom to! Simple put Spanish Garnacha is a must try for anyone interested in Grenache.