2017 4 Monos Pies Garnachus Vinos de Madrid

4 Monos or four monkeys, friends in Grenache from the Gredos mountains near Toledo, up to their business making a wild and untamed natural wine. Lighter in colour than the usual turbo charged Spanish Grenache. Low sulphur smells of whole bunch, bright red cherries, raspberries swirled with exotic spices and some yeasty farmyard. By no means spotless but neither spoilt by smells reminiscent of stables and well worn band aids. It’s just altitude crazy. Enough intense red fruit and mellifluous acidity to push the rustic bits into a seasoning role, no more. Fine iron filings tannins. Poured by the glass at the best wine bar in Madrid, La Fisna. Probably best kept cool and local, it’s alive.

14% alcohol. Cork. 13.90 euros.

93 points or a lot less if travels and gets too warm.

2013 El Escosés Volante En sus Trece

By way of explanation, El Escosés Volante means Flying Scotsman in Spanish and is Norrel Robertson, brave winemaker and MW based in Calatayud whence comes this blend of Garnacha from several different vineyards thereabouts. En sus Trece is an old Spanish term meaning to dig your heels in and not budge. Goes back to Pope Benedict XIII who refused to stop being Pope despite exile. Bit of Catholic recalcitrance there. Made outside the Denominacion regulations, this deep and stubbornly flavourful wine too didn’t move a lot over three days apart from becoming friendlier. Rich and sweet cherry, plum, woody Mediterranean herbs and something purpled black carbon. Full stature but lithe with great soft tannins and ripe acidity. The savouriness and resolved ripe tannin give support and counterpoint to the plush fruit. Great spot for a flying Scot to land.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. 17.50 euros.

94 points.

2016 Bodegas del Jalon Las Pizarras del Jalon Garnacha Calatayud

This has what could be a lot of dry extract. The bottom of the cork in contact with the liquid left a thick purple stain on the fingers. Rich in flavour too. The back label says tiny concentrated grapes and no oak to interfere. No hyperbole there. Deep drying flavours of blackberry, chocolate, spice and old fireplaces. Still kept fresh with a bit of natural tasting acid crunch. Almost like they put the must in a whizz banger food blender. Garnacha smoothie full of grape bits that are good for you.

14% alcohol. Cork. 10 euros.

91 points.

2009 Bodegas Aragónesas Ecce Homo Garnacha Crianza Campo de Borja

Casa Perdiguer is an authentically local bodega in Zaragoza whose main business appears to be locals bringing in their recycled two litre PET bottles to be refilled with fresh nearly zero km Garnacha. Doesn’t look like much money changes hands either. Their bottled red wine selection extends from Aragón as far as Rioja and Duero but no further. Keen to indulge more locally, this ten year old was a special at 8 euros, Ecce, a bargain by heck. Despite a dodgy cork, a Spanish specialty, the contents poured bright and clean. Developing aromas of rich cherry, almost cassis, chocolate and mocha, all mingling together. Rich mouthful of the same, just at its zenith and just holding up. For all the riches, that life enhancing acidity of the Campo keeps it bright and crimson. As former northern English compatriots used to exclaim, Ecky thump, that’s champion.

14% alcohol. Cork. 8 euros.

92 points.

2017 Locos por el Vino Zismero Garnacha Campo de Borja

An everyday range from those crazies for wine includes this affordable clown. Nothing silly about the wine though, bright and clean as countryside after rain, fresh red cherries, touch of flowery perfume, spices and some gritty soil. The crunch brought forward by some uncrushed berries in the making and finished off with a satisfying smack of acidity and a brush of tannin. Nowhere near the density of their Gruñón or the Alto Moncayo gear but all the easier at the table for that. Extreme bargain territory, no joke.

14% alcohol. Diam, hooray. 4.75 euros!

90 value points.

2016 Bodegas Alto Moncayo Veraton Garnacha

Very old vine Grenache from the hills west of Zaragoza in the ancient kingdom of Aragón. An venerable resource of Garnacha, now increasingly appreciated for the depth and V8 power of its fruit. If you’re after the fragrant lighter Pinot of the south you won’t find it here. Clean fresh oak hits first. Swirling the glass a bit more and black cherries, kirsch and something dark, scrubby herb and sun baked earthy compete and then merge. Big mouthful of the same very black cherries and as ripe a raspberry as there could be. Dark carbon and that sun warmed earth too. A peppery alcoholic burst gets put back in its place by some very soft melting ripe tannin and surprisingly mouthwatering settled acidity. It’s a hell of a big mouthful but it all seems to fit together.

15.50% alcohol! Cork. 27 euros in the local bodega but this one was an extremely kind gift from the amazingly generous crew at Borsao and Alto Moncayo.

93 points.

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.