These days it seems we want more authenticity, especially when we eat and drink. Yet, when it comes to wine, international grapes can seem ubiquitous, especially in the New World. Luckily countries like Italy and Spain have plenty of distinctive native varieties, but in truth these varieties are not always promoted with as much enthusiasm as they might be, perhaps because sometimes they are seen as inferior.
Sometimes, due to appellation and denomination labelling, the varieties themselves are lesser known. Ask the average consumer to name a Spanish grape and I’ll bet good money many people would answer “Rioja”. And despite Spain’s long established reputation as the source of generous red wines, I wouldn’t be surprised if the first Spanish grape they could name might be Albariño. Chances are, if our average drinker could name a red Spanish grape, it might be Tempranillo, now the country’s most widely planted grape and source of many of its most notable reds. So I’d like to explore a grape that is a little less well known, arguably both known and unknown: Garnacha.
Spain’s third most planted red variety and in the top 10 globally, Garnacha, hides to some extent, in plain sight. Famously, under the name Grenache in France, it is given due recognition as one of the holy trinity of Rhône grapes, a key component of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and other southern Rhône blends, with its Spanish roots discreetly ignored. In Sardinia they might allow a Spanish origin for Cannonau, but might also suggest it’s not quite the same thing as Garnacha or indeed, it really is an Italian grape.