The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2015

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Page 61 of 140

september 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  61 VARIETAL WINES L ike a fine wine, a perfectly executed campaign for the next "big" thing in varietals takes time, craftsmanship and patience. This is certainly the case for Garnacha produc- ers in Spain, who teamed up to develop and launch a campaign in the U.S. last year to make wine drinkers and som- meliers aware that Garnacha can stand on its own as a grape varietal. The fruit of their labor so far is Garnacha Day, an international celebration of the grape, on Friday, September 18, 2015. Many events have been staged in New York City to generate word-of-mouth, from the Garnacha Pavilion at Wine Riot NYC on Garnacha Day weekend, to an online consumers sweepstakes held throughout the month through social media (@winesofgarnacha), to in-store tastings throughout September (with participating stores listed at However, Garnacha Month offers just a taste of things to come for the producers and their distributors, according to Ignacio Martínez de Albornoz, spokesperson for Wines of Garnacha. "Many Americans are familiar with Grenache as part of Grenache/Syrah/ Mourvèdre blends, such as those produced in France's Rhône region, but they don't know Garnacha as a distinct wine varietal with its own nuances," Martínez says. "We hope the promotions will reveal that Garnacha is the best expression for Spanish terroir. These grapes happen to grow best in Aragon, Spain and its surroundings, home to the world's oldest Garnacha vines, which yield grapes that lead to production of high-quality, complex and sophisti- cated wines distinguished with highly concentrated palate and aromas." Garnacha wines in focus during the campaign are produced in the region's Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) growing areas, which include Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta. Over the last 20 years, a new generation of winemakers has taken a new approach to producing Garnacha varietal wines. This encompasses controlling yields, cultivating fruit from the old vines and reconciling modern techniques with old traditions to create single varietal wines of exceptional character and concentration. "Garnacha—whether red, white or rosé—presents our winemakers with several advantages and challenges," Martínez continues. "The growers say that the grape needs to be tortured a bit, in the sense that it will produce its best expression. While Garnacha is not a difficult grape to grow, it is sensitive to variations in terroir, and requires specific conditions to produce its best wines. Our growers are also paying closer attention to site selection, with hot, dry soils like schist, granite and limestone that are well drained, where Garnacha is naturally and traditionally adapted as its origin. Low humidity growing conditions allow grapes from old vines to develop more concentrated flavors and aromas." Another big message the winemak- ers hope to get across during Garnacha Month in New York City, and into the rest of the U.S., is that Garnacha is definitively a Spanish varietal. Always very expressive, showcasing a full range of aromas and flavors, these wines speak loudly of their place of origin by clearly transcribing their respective terroirs. To achieve this, growers are using leaf canopy to slow down the ripening of the grapes and protect the older vines from the elements while winemakers are paying attention to alcohol levels and tannins during production. Martínez adds that the Protected Denominations of Origin (PDOs) play a major role in improving overall quality of Garnacha wines. They can oversee what all the different producers are doing to determine which practices will result in the best single varietal wines. Pilar Cavero, Spain's Best Sommelier 2013 and sommelier at Celler de Can Roca (#1 in the World's Best 50 Restaurants ranking 2015), is serving as the spokesperson for Garnacha A New Day for by Elyse Glickman Garnacha GARNACHA DAY SETS THE STAGE FOR EXPANSION AND FAMILIARITY ACROSS THE U.S.

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