Our good friends George and Annie ran a wine tasting – or a cata as they are called in Spanish – in their village hall last week. They run wine tastings quite regularly, Annie puts on a great buffet and it’s always a fun evening.
George has lived in Spain for over 35 years and has dedicated a lot of time (and probably a portion of his liver!) to becoming a wine expert – tough job but somebodies got to do it! He runs regular wine tastings in his village of Sardas and we often take our groups on our guided walking holidays along to his wine tastings.
This tasting we focused on the Grenache grape which known as Garnacha in Spain. It’s a variety that previously was used mainly in blends – it’s a very juicy grape with an excellent colour and it’s purpose usually was to improve the colour of the blend.
It’s a grape that doesn’t age that well and is usually drunk relatively young. These days with the fashion in Spain going very much towards younger wines rather than reservas or gran reservas of the past, grenache is coming into it’s own and single variety grenache wines are getting more common.
It’s very much an Aragonese grape and most of the grenache wines I see are from the main wine growing areas in Aragon – Somontano, Cariñena and Campo de Borja. We tried two wines from each area and prices ranged from around 4 euros to the most expensive bottle we tried costing around 30 euros.
Although everyone agreed that the wines did get better as the price went up for price/value the wines around 7-9 euros were considered the best value for money and not many people thought the slightly better taste of the 30 euro bottle was worth the extra cash!
For me the highlight of the evening was a talk by Ernest and Pilar who have a new experimental vineyard in Barbenuta. Pilar’s grandmother is from Barbenuta and they are growing the vines on her old fields (which years ago where thought to have vines but for the last 50 years or so have been used for potatoes). The vineyard is at 1200 metres in altitude but in a very sunny location – in summer it gets 14 hours of direct sunlight a day! They have planted a large variety of grapes to see which will grow best.
The vines are still only two years old but so far the results have been encouraging. We tried a white and a red and both were pretty good. With such young vines production is very small at the moment – just for testing rather than for sale – and the wines lack some depth but Pilar explained that this is expected. Their grapes are now pressed in Biescas at a new project in the village to encourage local ecological produce – along with the wine their is also a local honey and a cheese producer that share the same space and facilities.
It’s a really interesting project and I always like to hear about these local industries and producers. Ernest and Pilar are planning on running guided visits to the vineyard and the press so hopefully we can add this in as an activity on our holidays that are based in Biescas.
George is going to start writing us a wine of the month column for the blog teaching us all a bit more about Spanish wines and what to look out for when you are on holiday here.