Spain’s glorious garnacha
It wasn’t meant to be more than a pitstop; a respite on the road to Spain’s world-renowned Rioja wine region by way of the glamorous streets of Barcelona. That said, the sun was setting and a good night’s rest was in order—somewhere in the province of Zaragoza, in the autonomous community of Aragon.
A turnoff from the main autopista, a few twists and turns later, and Tarazona appeared. Suddenly the respite became a recipe for good fortune.
As often happens in travel, an uncertain itinerary led to unexpected delight. Tarazona turned out to be an amazingly picturesque Roman-era town, replete with a resplendent Town Hall, an architecturally intriguing cathedral, and a grand bullfighting arena. Not to mention walled, narrow antiquated streets.
A comfortable room in the old town was fortuitously secured, and mere yards down the street a tapas bar materialized. It was packed, ebbing with both local lore and locals seated elbow-to-elbow. Calamari a la plancha, mushrooms and blood sausage soon arrived, served up alongside a glass of local red. Which in this territory almost exclusively equates to old vine garnacha (or grenache, if your accent prefers). Garnacha is, by far, the predominant grape in this hot, continental climate region. It comprises two-thirds of the vineyards in the area, mostly grown in classic, bush vine disposition, and produces a bounty utilized in the production of rich reds and gutsy rosés.
The wine in the glass was garnacha, not unlike Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja Garnacha 2011, which happens to be made from grapes grown just down the road from Tarazona in Borja, square in the middle of the garnacha territory. This is feel-good, comfort wine. It nicely showcases garnacha’s great berry and bramble sensibilities while amping things up by adding velvety Tempranillo and grippy Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend. But perhaps the best thing about this wine is its food-pairing versatility. Able to marry with roast chicken, roast beef, or anything braised in between, it is a willing, and able, dining companion.
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