2012 Purple Hands Wines Old Vine Barossa Valley Grenache

Lurking amongst the investment heavy labels on Langton’s wine auction website, you can sometimes find less coveted varieties and labels that don’t attract a bid and behold, a bargain pops up. Increasingly earlier and warmer vintages are highlighting how well the old Grenache vines are handling the warming. 2012 is perhaps seen as one of the cooler seasons since 2000 but there’s no lack of ripeness here. As the dusty bottle development clears, yes it does seem like red wine changes under a screwcap, sweet raspberry, aniseed and fruit and nut chocolate emerge. Maybe a bit of herby whole bunch pulls the fruit into line? Tasty resolved mouthful of the same fruit, spice and chocolate with just a twist of Barossa dark carbon. Perfectly ripe fruit, a swish of tannin and comfortable acidity. Probably developed as far as it’s going but still frisky as it plateaus. Worth the punt at auction in between the traded labels; this actually ended up in a glass.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $14 at auction, probably about $30 on release. Happy.

92 points.

2018 Whistler ‘Get In My Belly’ Grenache

You have to like a wine with such a suitable imperative instruction and it was my belly indeed via a very satisfactory olfactory interlude! Well pitched smells of musky rose, whole berry ripe cherry and raspberry, woody stalk and dark carbon, all singing in harmony. A good depth of fruit develops and there’s a satisfying mid weight mouthful all knitted together by natural bright acidity and woody stem tannin. Good grapes grown in a place where they seem happy and made into wine in a sensitive and thoughtful way, what more do you want, eh belly?

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap. $35

94 points.

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.