2018 Oliver Conti Indispensable Negre Empordà DO

Another Grenache Carignan blend with a small addition of Cabernet Sauvignon this time. Medium bodied, clean and indeed indispensable for the table without too much analysis, except for around here of course. Red crunchy fruits backed up by woody herbs and that serious faced tug of Catalan stoney resolution. Impressive how the ripeness pushes into sweet Grenache warm pleasure but still holds a cut of cool glistening acid. Just like the beach weather today, languid 26 degrees of late summer sun freshened by the cool Tramontane breeze blowing down from the Pyrenees.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. Good wine for all at 7 euros in the local supermarket.

90 points of assured pleasure.

2018 La Vinyeta Heus Negre. Empordà DO

From the Catalan hills close to Dali’s Figueres this is the red or negre from La Vinyeta’s basic range. It seems this particular vintage is mostly Cabernet Franc and Grenache Noir with a little bit of Carignan or Samsò as it goes locally. Past vintages appear to have been mostly Grenache and Carignan, more typical of the hills on both sides of the arbitrary Catalan frontier as the Spanish side view it. Nonetheless this is a delicious bargain. Fresh but full clean aromas of dark raspberries, dried cherries, hints of rosemary and an austere rocky cut from the wind and sun blasted hills where grape growing’s a tough game. The initial reductive surliness airs and there’s a mouthful of truthful fruit carrying all those dark berries and gnarled country flavours. Catalan for red wine is Vi Negre it seems. Tried to pronounce it and it came out sounding like vinegar, nothing could be further from the truth as this stayed rich and staunch over three days.

14% alcohol. Cork. An astonishing 6.70 euros in the local beach side Costa Brava supermarket.

92 points.

2017 Borsao Classico Garnacha

Pretty label for a pretty good value Grenache. A variety that seems to thrive in the Campo de Borja which looks dry, sun blasted and windswept. Going to travel that way soon, so hope it’s hospitable to this Grenache aficionado. This is medium bodied, clean, fragrant with sweetly floral fruit. Good focus of evenly ripened red fruits and a drag of fine tannin and acid. That’s the thing about Garnacha from this bit of Spain, fine flavour ripeness and the preservation of natural, mineral acidity. There’s no great complexity or concentration but there is character and place. Puts many $20 to $30 Rhônes to shame. Mucho delicious.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. Amazing under $10 worth of value from Dan Murphy’s direct imports.

90 delicious Grenache ponits.

2018 Cirillo The Vincent Grenache

It’s unusual for the words finesse and Barossa to appear in the same sentence but it can’t be avoided here. Perfect musky, red fruit ripeness. Some whole berries in the ferment push the plush brightness and a fine phenolic grip keep the scales perfectly balanced. All the good bits of Grenache grown where it’s happy and no awkward heat, green acid or tannin. It just flows gently, builds sweet fruit and then waves bye with some graceful grip. It’ll be fascinating to see how it ages. Will it get deeper fruited or just lose its brightness? Venerable vines, great purity and just over a twenty. Heart warming generosity.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $22!

94 points.

2018 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache

Comfortable, cuddly and a generous girth but balanced on nimble feet. Reasonably darkly coloured. Gentle but expressive wafts of plum and soil. The palate comes to life with deeply poised dark musky berries, SA coal black and dark chocolate. Structurally this really scores. Beautiful drag of firm ripe tannin that sort of feels a bit whole bunch but could be old vine small berry skins? The acidity’s well settled into the tannin too, yum. So at ease with itself and proud of where it comes from.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $20 special offer for Dan’s members, normally $30 and still a bargain.

93 points.

2018 The Other Wine Co. McLaren Vale Grenache

A little reticent at first for what should be an exuberant South Australian, perhaps it’s only just been squashed into the bottle? Raspberry and wine gums, some sweet baking spices and woody stems. Really bright, clean and properly ripe but holds together with comfortable acidity and firm stem tannins. Gets a lot more talkative over three days of sipping. The back label doesn’t bluster when it says, right grape, right place. Just needs to add it’s also made to express the sense of place which isn’t obscured by oak or over ripeness.

14% alcohol. Screwcap. $26.

92 points.

2016 Pájaro de Buen Agüero Cariñena Garnacha

Said it before, say it again, perhaps the best value Grenache on the planet comes from around Zaragoza. This was about ten dollars from Aldi. The same price as a Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero which was nowhere near as interesting as it just tried too hard, all extract and winemaking with not much to say by day two. This, though, was only just medium bodied with its Grenache perfume bumped up by some obvious bubblegum and banana carbonic maceration. Some decent red fruit that held on well over two days, buoyed by good natural acid. Not sure if all the whole berry maceration did all that much to improve things but still a good undercurrent of fruit kept it very drinkable, despite leaving most of the tannin out. A Dan’s own import, 2016 Tocada Garnacha, was deeper fruited, less pushed by enology, more enjoyable and is being cleared for $6! Ludicrous charity from Woolies. Two good Spaniards for $16, happy days.

14% alcohol. Cork, a particularly poor one. $10.

88 points