Grenache Blanc has never been a favorite of mine. I’ve always found it a little flabby, slightly oily and lacking in the acid department. There is a special place in this universe however, called Terra Alta, Catalunya, where Garnatxa Blanca changes shape (is more fun to spell), and becomes a mineral, salty, slightly voluptuous little vixen that makes you understand why wine is a thing of place, and why we can thank our lucky stars somebody put it there.
The region of Terra Alta is a 2 hour, mostly ocean side train ride from Barcelona, west of the province of Tarragona. The vineyards sit primarily on the valley floors of the region, between some of the highest peaks in all of Catalunya. The vines and the soils are wild and rugged, and the dramatic landscape has been captured in several paintings by Pablo Picasso, who spent a number of drunken summers here. Like Chardonnay is to Burgundy, like Eckersley is to closing, Garnatxa Blanca is to Terra Alta. It is synonymous with the region, and when you taste it you taste the terrain.
The source of all this minerally goodness is what’s called sal de moro. Chunks and layers of pure calcium that run rampant through the soils, giving Garnatxa Blanca (and other regional varieties) an unmatched salinity that pairs beautifully with pintxos, shellfish and sunshine…and a number of other things I so happen to love. I’ve tried it in various styles- lean and mean, a little more curvaceous- any way you slice it, it’s delicious.
What to try:
For lean and mean try “L’Abrunet Blanc” from Celler Frisach. Stainless steel fermented and great with salad, seafood, or on its own. I’ll be happily lugging this bottle around the streets of Mexico in a couple weeks. Optimal beach wine.
Like a little more body? From the same producer, get your hands on Celler Frisach “Vernatxa.” This bottle of goodness comes from a single vineyard with 50 plus year old vines. It spends 10 or so days on the skins to add texture and flavor and then gets a little neutral oak treatment. Curvy, sexy, salty.
Blogged at: Commonwealth, Oakland
Soundtrack: Churches Spotify Playlist, Sutton v Arsenal Soccer Game