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.

2019 Bondar Rayner Vineyard Grenache

An example of Grenache made in the less extraction is more way. Just cooked strawberries or as those Frenchies with a word for everything edible say compôte, makes me think of compost though. Roses verging to musk, raspberries and cherries too. Sweetly transparent fruit running up against fresh cut fennel sap, dried up by no nonsense acidity and stem tannin. Second day and just the same, just balanced. Such a long way from what you’d traditionally expect from a McLaren Vale red, polarising for some maybe. Pale and interesting.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. 707 gms of glass. $35.

93 then 92 points.

2018 Tandem Inmune Navarra Garnacha and 2018 Bodegas Frontonio El Casetero Campo de Borja Garnacha

Two new direct imports from Dan Murphy’s booze barn. Yet more evidence of the value Spain and Grenache offer to the discerning drinker, and this blog as well. Ripe, buoyant and cheerful, Grenache that is.

First the Navarra version from an area just to the north of the dry plains of Aragón. Cool valleys maybe but still warm enough to ripen heat loving Garnacha. Just ripe red berries pumped up by some whole berry ferment. Soft, sweet green herbs. Spice and a ferrous, earthy bloody cut to reign in the boisterous berries. Light body but plenty of good clean flavour fun. Mouthwatering acidity finishes off.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $13.99.

90 points.

Something from the sun bleached plain of the Campo de Borja made by the intriguing Bodegas Frontonio run by a very smart MW. How I managed to miss them despite spending two weeks hanging around Zaragoza is annoying and through no lack of enthusiasm for the local wine bars. Warm lift of perfumed roses, musk, raspberry and sweet brown spices, so fragrant, not sure it shouldn’t be dabbed behind the ears. Whole berry fermented again, must be, it’s so smelly. Calms down in the mouth with those red fruits floating on toffee soft tannin and acidity. Again that bloody, ferric savouriness stops the sweet fruit getting out of hand. Olé.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. $13.90.

90 points.

2019 Cirillo The Vincent Grenache

Another vintage of The Vincent and it’s proving to be a stalwart in value and quality. Opens quietly with gentle scents of musk, rose oil and then gains some traction with raspberry liqueur, toffee, spice and carbon. Twenty four patient hours later and there’s more spice and fine detail. Wide perfumed lift of rose and red fruit. The acidity and tannin buffered by a washy haze that’s floats the fruit so well. Warm pleasure on a cold night but detailed and thought provoking too. Cracking.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $22.

93 points.

2010 Adelina Grenache

A winery with an address on Wendouree Road East which could be an indication of grape quality, especially as it seems the vines are eighty years of age. Here the Clare Valley puts its stamp on a Grenache, making it less plump and generous, more sinewy and lithe. Starts with the instantly recognisable smell of doing dusty bottle time, then breathes some faded rose, mint and cherry. Despite a pale colour for Clare, it builds well with these flavours sweetened with age. Finest of satin tannin and delicious twist of Campari acidity. Bony structure but flesh too. Made by gentle infusion more than rough extraction perhaps and better for it. The relatively high alcohol had more effect on the drinker than the flavours.

14.8% alcohol. Screw cap. Lucky auction win for $25.

92 points.

2014 Cirillo The Vincent Grenache

Enjoyed this on release so much that three bottles found their way into the stack of cardboard loosely described as a cellar. Some of the early musky exuberance has gone to be replaced by a soft detailed deliciousness. Dried rose petals, sweet raspberries and a graphite tug to finish. No bombast but a quiet sense of right grape in the right place. It’s the calm balance of properly flavour-ripe berries, earthy undertones, fine satin tannin and gentle acidity that has you back for another sip. Beautiful growing and sensitive in the making. Great generosity in the pricing too.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. About $21 on release, bargain for wine from 80 year old vines.

93 points.

2016 Celler Aixalà Alcait Pardelasses Priorat

Pardelasses, for the donkeys it seems and this ass thought this 50/50 blend of Garnatxa and Samsó close to the one of the most enthralling drinks so far this year. Despite opening a bit sulphur stinky, a quick decant revealed dark balsamic cherries, a beguiling scent of sweet smoky pimenton, olé, and liquorice earthiness. There’s also kirsch, morello cherries and a finish where that sweet smoked paprika taste pops up again. Like a lot of great red wine, there’s an incredible freshness and a paradoxically firm but soft textured end gently brushing things clean to a mouthwatering conclusion. A very special expression of grape growing and place. Just as good on the second day. Samsó or Carignan as it’s better known can be so special in old vines and low yields. So soft and luscious. This old donkey is smitten by Priorat now.

14.50%. Cork. Another from The Spanish Acquisition’s wonderful mystery packs.

96 points.