Grenache, or Garnacha, is a widely planted vinifera varietal that dwells best in hot, dry climates. Grown in the south of France and southern California, the grape is most popular in Spain, its region of origin. Generally lacking tannin and acid, it's soft on the palate, proffering strong berry flavors and spicy nodes. What does that boil down to? An incredibly easy to drink red wine that functions simultaneously as a cocktail and a dinner drink (think tapas and saltier meat dishes).
Grenache on its own doesn't have that much color to it, so it is often mixed with any number of grapes, including Tempranillo, a rich black grape loaded with body that is often referred to as Spain's noble grape. Common nodes include plums, tobacco and leather.
Protocolo (100% tempranillo) - Rates 89 points on the Wine Enthusiast scale and ranked #2 on their list of Best Buys from 2011, this is a wine that defines the word "structure". It hits every node on the tempranillo list, proffering fruit, herb and leather in equal measure, balancing on its tannin like an Olympic gymnast. Speaking of which, the guys in the room did full flips for this dry wine, adding it to their Vivino collections without a second thought.
Bodegas Borsao Garnacha (85% grenache, 15% tempranillo) - hailed by Robert Parker as "Possibly the single greatest dry red wine value in the world, this is an unbelievable wine." With a powerful fruit flair, this was described by one taster as "a party in my mouth." Semi-sweet drinkers favored this fruitier version, embracing the gift of the grenache.
As always, it depends on the drinker. The dry fans in the crowd devoured the Protocolo while the sweeter fans aimed towards the Borsao. My husband and I, who range in the middle, devoured the Barcelona Red with ease. At $6 - $9/bottle, and available practically anywhere, the Protocolo and Borsao are amazing deals to be appreciated. At $19, the incredibly quaffable Barcelona Red should be actively sought out by local winery fans and encouraged onto store shelves, a move that would hopefully help to lower the price a few bucks and bring it into the playing field where it rightfully belongs.