I Found a Great Grenache

It’s now time to actually taste some wine which to me is the fun part.  Last week’s article focused on what Grenache is and some tips on what to look for with this incredible variety.  However, the taste is what we all are concerned about over the pretty label. 

I picked up two bottles to examine and taste for you (I know…it’s a difficult job but someone has to do it) but changed my mind.  One of the bottles is a Chateauneuf du Pape which is an incredible region in Southern Rhone.  This region is on my bucket list to visit and spend a few weeks just exploring and sampling the wines.  Sadly, for this article, I will not be tasting this bottle.  I know that it’s a blend of Syrah and Grenache and I was unable to find out the ratio of each.  To understand a grape variety, you have to taste it on its own to understand its specific characteristics.

Therefore, I decided just to focus on wines that are either 100 percent Grenache or a high proportion.  Here comes the adventure.

The Search

I love living in Michigan but sometimes it becomes a bit challenging with the weather.  We have had some interesting weather combinations from exceptionally cold temperatures to freezing rain.  That limited my treks to find Grenache but I was able to find one.

First of all, I did not want to spend over $30 for the bottle.  If you remember, in the last article, if you research and spend a few minutes, you can find something.  Price Is never a stopping point for me if I know its good and worth it.  However, I still believe that we can drink well for an affordable price and not break the bank on each purchase.

I went to a few stores (again, freezing rain) but found that Trader Joes came to the rescue.  More and more, I’m finding that they are a great option for wine purchases. Remember I discussed the Bread and Butter Pinot Noir?  They have it.  Remember when I was looking for Lambrusco options?  They have a great one.  So why not head over, pick up some cheese, snacks and see if they have Grenache.

The results of the search?  Amazingly, they had two:

I picked up both as they were great deals and life is about learning for growth. Wait…am I the only one that says that to justify the purchase?  Let’s focus on the Garnacha.

La Sonrente 2021 Garnacha

I have to tell you that I was super excited to try this.  I was a bit rushed as I was getting ready to travel but decided to treat myself.  Dinner was a thick Ribeye covered with a dry rub, a little sauteed yellow squash along with some beautiful French fries that were deep fried in beef tallow.

Sidenote – if you have never done this, I suggest you do.  Fries cooked in beef tallow is a reminder of what a certain company’s fries were like growing up.  They are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and just have a great taste.  I hit mine with a dusting of Himalayan pink salt fresh out of the fryer and eat them quick.

Sorry…got distracted by the fries.  As we all should be.  Once I refocused, the question would be would this wine have enough weight/tannin/ flavor to be able to stand up to the food?

My Opinion on the Wine

Let’s talk about the wine first. It may be a bit hard to see my notes in the picture above so here’s my summary:

Color – great ruby red that has some heavy extraction making the wine opaque through its core

Aromas – great dark fruit aromas from cherries to raspberries and plums (all a bit unripe), followed by hints of vanilla from the toasted oak, dried meats (reminds me of charcuterie), cocoa dusting and a touch of lees.  It’s also showing some alcohol in the glass (as my nose hairs tickled a bit)

Sweetness – this wine is off dry showing some residual sugar.  It’s interesting since the flavors of unripe fruit tend to mask this.

Acidity – It’s on the edge of medium plus levels.  There is a good rinsing of the palate after each sip that’s pleasant.

Tannins – Both the grape and wood tannins are above medium levels which add great structure to its profile.

Mouthfeel – It has a smooth texture with a little dustiness.  Feels like a touch of baby powder in the glass but its fine.  It adds to its character. 😊

Body – This is almost full body (on the edge) but since it feels a touch light, I’d call it in the medium range.

Flavors – It’s very similar to the aromas of dark fruit, a hint of raisins, toasted oak and dried meats.  Again, you can sense a touch of under ripe fruit.

My Opinion – First of all, this is great wine to have on hand.  It’s aroma and flavor profile are classic Grenache and showcase the grape very well.  It’s a bit one dimensional as in it shows you what’s in the glass and that’s it.  It does not evolve or change much but definitely stays consistent in the glass.

That being said, I like it and would definitely purchase it again to have on hand.  I love lower tannin wines and this is on the edge for me.  However, it’s very easy drinking and I love that I know what I’m getting.  Pairing this is simple as you can look to match the fruit, depth of its structure or both.

Did it pair with the Steak and fries?  Did I care to be honest?  Yes, I always do and the wine stood up to the steak and fries.  It had just enough tannin to work with the mid rare steak’s myoglobin to reduce the tannin in the wine.  When this occurs, the fruit becomes more noticeable but I think it went nicely with everything. 

Final Thoughts

I love Grenache and this wine is a great value.  I did not mention the price earlier because price should never sway if you like something or not.  Yes, it will influence but should not be the determining factor.  Now, that’s out of the way, this bottle I purchased for $7.  For me, that is reason enough to experiment and try something. 

Now that you are all running to get some, keep a look out when you shop for Grenache.  I think you will like what you find.


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