2018 Comando G La Bruja de Rozas Garnacha Vinos de Madrid DOP

There’s a lot of geographical and geological info on the label. From the Sierra de Gredos near Madrid, in particular the valley of Tiétar where lies the village of Rozas de Puerto Real at 850 meters altitude on granite soils, phew. On first sniff and taste, it surely looks like one of those edgy, minimal intervention Madrid Garnachas. Reduced and yeasty, eventually smells of roses, fennel, cherries and warm smoky rocks. In the mouth, things get really interesting, challenging perhaps. Balancing the crisp red fruit and herbs is an indelible line of finest tannin and a sweep of granite acidity, whilst still keeping the warm yeasty breath. Feathery lightness but full of flavour. Natural wine in essence, would a touch more sulphur calm it down or muffle the purity? Quite a mountain adventure, bewitching perhaps.

14.5% alcohol, never would have guessed, so cool. Cork. $42.

94 points if you like vino natural, less if you’re a wine scientist.

2013 Bodegas Marañones Treintamil Maravedíes Garnacha Madrid

More Garnacha from the Gredos mountains around Madrid. A few bottles from auction with badly water damaged labels but good levels were worth a risk as I tried a bottle from this producer during a wine soaked fortnight in Madrid and was impressed enough to remember the name. This is 90% Garnacha and 10% otros locals, nice. It opened a bit armpit smelly and reduced which eventually cleared. Vivid and just ripe red fruit with a perfume of old roses and musk like smoke rising from incense burning on a slab of smoky granite. Flavours of cherry essence, red currant and sweet green herbs float on high pitched fine acidity and a lick of cool stoney tannin. Quite a mouthful of mountain crispness. Alimentaria, the Australian importer’s website includes a review by Ned Goodwin MW. Beautifully written as usual, you can see why he’s a MW and this is a just a blog, it suggests that there’s an almost Burgundy like detail and poise to this Garnacha, exactly. Recommended reading.

14% on my damaged label, 14.5% on the advertised image used here? Cork. $20 at auction, bit cheaper than Volnay.

93 points.

2019 Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards Grenache

From one of the long term quality grape farmers in McLaren Vale with over a 100 hectares, the old bush vines have triumphed here. Looked a little uncoordinated at first, musky, handbags and a meaty sulphidic edge. Seemed too big and clunky. Just needed a good deep breath, the second day and the fruit flexed considerable toned muscle. Deep red fruits, a glorious top note like walking into a winery in full autumn ferment, sweet ferrous earth, salty mushroom and fine chocolate. Generous and contained by the sort of skin tannin and acidity that keeps you coming back for another sip. The back label says it’s a mushrooming walk in a pine forest and suggests firing up the pizza oven, nice words. Quality grapes, no wonder they’re on Penfolds’ list of growers for something called Grange.

14%. Screw cap. $30.

93 points.

2018 Viñadores de Gredos Garnacha La Escalera Cebreros DOP

More Grenache, not bored yet, this time from the Gredos ranges near Madrid, home of some very fashionable wine choices these days. Opens with a fair waft of ethyl acetate lift from maybe some dry, shriveled grapes in the bunches. Then it’s nutty with smells of old canvas tennis shoes on a dusty warm day, well, that’s what came to mind. Tart, red berry juice, darker dried cherry skin all washed in mountain fresh mineral water. Gains composure later, deep essence of red berries again and cherry touched with sage, bay and rosemary, all floating on that tang. Not your usual Grenache, like it’s been to cool school. Nervous and a bit on the edge but there’s some great fruit there.

14.5% alcohol and it’s not noticeable. Dodgy cork. $50 ish RRP.

93 points.

2016 Xavi Pallejà Buxus de les Aubagues Priorat

Catalan labelling is far more complicated than my limited language ability can deal with. I think Xavi is the producer, Buxus seems to be a variety of boxwood and Aubagues has something to do with shade and the cooler zone of Priorat or Partida les Aubagues? The label also notes the village of Bellmunt del Priorat and that this is a village wine, vi de villa, in what seems to be the emerging Priorat classification system. There’s a good article on spanishwinelover.com which goes into fascinating detail. Annoyingly, my ageing iPad won’t let me copy and paste the link. Looking at the label, I was hoping Buxus might be a pretty good name for an elephant.

Notwithstanding the esoteric label, if ever a bottle shows just how profoundly good a Samsó, or Carignan to us non Catalans, with 25% Grenache can be, then this is the business. It even looks so good as it pours, a bright carmine with royal purple flashes. In smell and flavour, it’s soft, clean, rich and precise. All the fresh, squishy berries of summer plus a seasoning of cocoa, roast sweet goat and that Priorat sooty old fireplace thing. The next day and a couple thereafter, I found myself scribbling words like, great wine, seldom seen. So pure, deep and a perfume to haunt those places where we remember our favourite pleasures. Staring into infinity length, floating on buoyant acidity and such sweet skin tannin. Essence of grape and place. Alright, it’s a nice drink.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. Part of a mystery six pack from The Spanish Acquisition’s pandemic survival sale. Somewhat dismayed to see a RRP of over a hundred in Australian dolores. Worth a trip to Tarragona and into the hills to save a fortune.

96 points plus another point for an elephant.

2017 Bodegas Costers del Sió Petit Siós Costers del Segre

Costers del Segre is a fairly recent addition to the DO scheme of things Spanish. Spread over two or three main areas, it sort of borders the more famous Priorat and is firmly Catalan it seems. This bottle contains a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and a splash of Cabernet Sauvignon. Opened with a whiff of smoky sulphury reduction. As it quickly cleared, some clean medium weight dark cherry and berry, pretty suave really, all modulated well across a balanced mesh of settled acidity and firm ripe tannin. I scribbled, won’t frighten the horses but has an easy charm. Quite a surprise three and four days later to find it not only hanging on but more interesting. Sweet, round and ripe but not overly so. Almost Australian sunshine ripeness over the firm push of Spanish geology. Sweet damson which I think I remember from childhood, dried fig, sage and something rocky like wet concrete. Such lovely acidity. Tempranillo from a humble bottle does it again.

13.5% alcohol. Diam, good. $13.92 at auction, pat myself on the back, if I could.

Started a solid 91 points, pushing 92/93 later.

2018 Real Agrado Rioja

The back label says Agrado means “Feeling of happiness or pleasure when doing something one loves.” Like sipping a glass of this. So good, glad to have a six pack to share. Mostly Garnacha, Rioja old style, with some Tempranillo, whole berry fermented for brightness and crunch. Bright as the proverbial button, glossy sweet pomegranate syrup, all sorts of red berries, perfume of rose, touch of almost musk, jamon, olé. Some of those mineral stony flavours that wine bores bang on about. A scythe of fine grit tannin and mouthwatering acid rises up to meet the fruit, carries it long and stops any hint of mawkish nonsense. The fruit quality is such that a sweet perfume lingers long. Exemplifies the fascinating ying and yang of dry ripe fruit and savoury so typical of the best of Spain. Saw some Joselito Jamon Iberico at the market this morning for a measly $485 a kilo. How thin a slice?

14% alcohol. One of those agglomerate things with a disc of real cork on each end, they seem to be improving but why, really? 394 gms of glass. $35 rrp.

93 gobsmackingly delicious points.

2015 Purple Hands Old Vine Barossa Grenache

More Barossa Burgundy in the glass for want of a better reference. Just light to medium bodied, that old coal cellar dust, more Barossa than Burgundy, sweet red fruit above. All carried on ripe woody stem tannin and fine natural feeling acidity. Great approach to the making, less is more, gentle. Plenty of perfume but some more depth wouldn’t go amiss. Whilst there’s all sorts of conversations about Pinot Noir clones, it would be interesting to see more out there about Grenache selections, some made long ago in South Australia. Some new grafting or planting from Spanish stock would be something to talk about.

14% alcohol. Screw cap, 596 gms of glass. $30 at auction.

91 graceful points.

2018 Serra i Barcelo Aucalà Garnatxa Negra Terra Alta

Yes, yet more Grenache. This from the rugged country around Priorat again. Spotless, bright Spanish Burgundy by inadequate comparison. So fragrant with a red fruit that’s sort of like ripe cherries, deep dark raspberries and wild strawberry whizzed up with some floral perfumes. All cut into shape and kept lip smackingly tart by stony acidity and fine powder tannin. Must confess to writing whoo hoo at the end of my scribbled note. Well, it’s got such energy and stayed delicious over three days, it made me squeak with pleasure.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 593 gms of glass. $27.

92 then 93 just medium weight points.

2018 Bodegas Borsao Tres Lagunas Garnacha

May have to change the blog’s name to the Grenache Chronicles. Another from the Campo de Borja and one of the wine world’s great value producers. Just medium weight, all the rose and musk of Grenache and truck loads of sweet cherry fruit and smoky rocks. Quite pretty for the Campo, reminds me of one of those new wave Barossa Grenache but with just a bit more of that savoury cut typical of the Spaniard version. Sparkling fresh acidity. Such a reliable producer, very clean, modern in making but still full of character. Hung on well over three days. Still making a claim for the best value producer with a heritage.

14.5%. Screw cap. 555 gms of glass. $19 direct import from Woolworths.

92 points.