2019 Aurkitu Garnacha Viñas Viejas Baja Montana Navarra DO

Just when I think I’ve exhausted the Spanish Grenache options on the shelves of Dan Murphy’s another one appears. This one’s a softly spoken but confident. Restrained aromas of clean fruit, kirsch, peanuts, roses, lipstick kiss, very ripe strawberries, carried by just so acidity and a lick of ripe tannin. Improved over a day or two, the rose perfume became a heady faded velvet red flower, the peanuts more of a wide umami, the red fruits richer but still composed. All sitting on a bed of wet slate, er…mineral, that word again. From a warmer part of Navarra it seems and not surprisingly sits comfortably between the grunt of Borja and the airiness of Gredos. These Garnachas must be selling well as Dan’s have quite a few; this better than most, albeit $10 more. Still great value. Viva Garnacha.

13.5% Diam. $26.99, $10 to $15 cheaper than an equivalent CdR Villages.

93 quite self possessed points.

2017 Celler Piñol Raig de Raïm Garnatxa Cariñena Terra Alta DO

Yet another one of those Catalan Grenaches with some Carignan from a DO close to the wonderful Priorat for a lot less. This was a staff pick at a good local wine shop I keep forgetting about. McCoppins on the traffic sewer that’s Johnston Street in old Fitzroy for those familiar with Melbourne. Extremely familiar for the moment due to lockdown walks with lots fewer motors clogging the asphalt. Breathe more easily. Developing smells of old leather furniture, dark cherries with a balsamic tang, roasting pan juices and, yes, the sooty old fireplace detail of that beautiful, rugged landscape. One day I’ll get there. There’s ripe plums and peanuts from Grenache to freshen a mouthful with well mingled very ripe tannin and just enough acidity. Probably as good as it will get with a little bottle age. Heartwarming wine for quiet times as we wait for better news. Went back for another masked browse and all gone. Time passes, shelves empty and fill with something new to enjoy.

14% alcohol. Cork. $20.

91 points, baby Priorat.

2017 Navaherreros Garnacha de Bernabeleva San Martín de Valdeiglesias Vinos de Madrid DO

Well, that’s what’s on the label. My attempt at understanding is it’s Grenache made by the Bodegas Bernabeleva winery in the village of San Martín of the churches from vines along the Navaherreros road or something like that. Definitely old vines in the Madrid mountains rescued from decrepitude in the mid two thousands and yes, yet another Spanish Garnacha. And, yes, another from the mountains. A wild but pretty perfume of musky red fruits, some very low volume feral notes and some spicy stem lift. Sitting high in the palate, fragrant full flavours of more musk, roses, raspberries and general red fruitiness. Fine drying tannins of bloody stones and filigreed ripe acidity. A final goodbye of a texture that makes me think of pencil shaving grey graphite. Lots of red perfumed fruit and lots of mouth coating fine dusty but sweet astringency. Without the benefit of the label, I may have guessed somewhere between Volnay and Corton, perfume and stoney grip, or maybe Etna, or just wild mountainous Garnacha? Teetering on the precipice but hanging on by sheer fruit quality.

14% alcohol. Cork. $41.

93 points but some technocrats may baulk.

2018 Península Vinicultores Cebreros DOP Sierra de Gredos Garnacha

Seems Cebreros has only been a DOP for a few years such is the very recent appreciation of some old vineyards with altitude. I must admit to a fascination with these almost Pinot Noir like versions of good old reliable Grenache. This one is an absolute winner if you’re finding the Côte d’Or or even Mount Etna are beyond a quotidian pleasure. Light weight in appearance and oddly green, almost Sauv Blanc smelling on opening. Happily the green turns into the fragrant pine needle and menthol fresh air of those Gredos mountains. It really takes two days for the truth to emerge. The stemmy framework persists but a depth of just so ripe fruit floats like a sweet melody. There’s just picked cherries, strawberries and brown spices served as a picnic in a fresh pine forest. A good glug of blood orange juice flavour and acidity to freshen, gripped tight in granite stem tannin. Great wine, beautiful grapes squashed into a Norsca advert in the best possible way. Pure, delicious and so well made it avoids some of the more feral elements of the Gredos natural wine movement. Probably my favourite version so far and one of the best priced. Enjoy the bargain now. Didn’t take long for Etna to find its place on the wine fashion catwalk. Wine so particular to place this good are rare. There again I really like proper Lambrusco, what do I know?

14.5% alcohol and no hint of warmth. Diam, bravo. $32.

94 points.

2020 Bodegas Monte Ory Garnacha Navarra

There’s a few new French, Italian and in this case, Spanish direct imports on the shelves of Dan Murphy’s barns at tempting prices. So far about one in three has been interesting and good enough to consider a review and more importantly a rebuy. Unsurprisingly Grenache has featured strongly and when it comes from Navarra it tickles my fancy. This took a while to open up, a bit surly from both recent bottling and shook up after a long sea voyage? With a little patience, smells of musk, roses, strawberries, cherries, nut paste and sweet green herbs emerge. The same sort of light to just medium bodied flavours are cinched by clean fine and ripe acidity with a lovely tug of minerality. Not the most concentrated but delicious fruit for $13. Sort of resembles a basic Gredos altitude Garnacha, no bad thing.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $12.40 in a six bottle purchase.

90 points, bonus for style and grace.

2020 Vinatero Old Vine McLaren Vale Grenache

At the prices Aldi sell their wine, this is indeed a pauper’s Pinot. Initially shows that bubblegum like whole berry carbonic ferment thing, roses, lipstick, cherry juice heading toward kirsch, maybe some sappy stem to cut the fruit sweetness. Grenache suits the Vale so well, naturally hanging onto mouthwatering ripe acidity and a brush of tannin to slice the sweet fruit. Light to barely medium bodied. Really nicely made, a cute wine! Does get a little washy and dilute through the mouth but the perfume resonates and it did hang on over a couple of days without falling apart. Does make you wonder how long bargains like this will continue as McLaren Vale Grenache gets increasingly popular? These relatively small makes of regional specialties may not build a long term brand but they do suit the Aldi way, opportunistically snaffling and putting on the shelf at a price until all gone. Just don’t expect it to be there next time. Good fun for the jaded wine nut.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $11.99.

90 points.

2019 Pájaro de Buen Agüero Garnacha Cariñena

Is there better value than an authentic, firmly of the place Garnacha from Aragón? Sure, there’s attractive prices for Bordeaux grapes transplanted to the new world but do they have the natural balance, detail and unadorned charm of tough old Grenache? This is much more in the medium weight, rich in extracted bits than recent vintages. Disappointingly it was stinky with reductive smokiness when opened but patience really paid off a day later. So much more open, there was a little balsamic lift to a summer berry sweetness, a spring breeze of roses, darker just picked cherries and plums in the middle. Firmly put in place by genuinely ripe skin tannin grip. Fresh and mouthwatering to finish. Admittedly, not the most lingering of ends and a bit washy but for less than $10 it’s bargain of the year so far. Great effort from those old sun blasted, windswept vines.

Forgot to note the alcohol, denial probably. Screw cap. $9 from Aldi.

91 points.

2019 Scala Dei Garnatxa Priorat DOQ

Stairway to Grenache heaven from up in the hills of God’s Priorat staircase. Electric, pristine and without blemish. Such a different expression than the rich and full versions from lower down the beautiful, wild slopes of Priorat. Crackles with just medium bodied energy. Perfumed with red fruits, roses and other flowery things, wet slate and sweet exotic mountain herbs and shrubs. Drives through on mouthwatering acidity and a rasp of cool skin tannin. No idea how it will go with time in the bottle but how could you wait when it’s so delicious now? God’s stair looks a great place to grow Grenache. Maybe the price could be more humble?

14% alcohol. Diam. $48.50 RRP.

94 points for immediate pleasure.

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