There are thousands of grape varieties in the world and getting to know their names is a big hurdle in learning about wine. We tend towards ones that are familiar, shying away from the odd ones we know nothing about. There are the simple typical ones like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Chardonnay. Then there are more obscure ones like Aglianico or Nebbiolo. But things get very difficult when grapes have different names in each country. For instance, in Germany Pinot Gris is called Grauburgunder or Pinot Grigio in Italy. This bottle says Garnatxa Negra, a more unusual synonym of Grenache, the French spelling, or more commonly Garnacha in Spain. I’ve had it many times since a friend first introduced it to me, so thought it about time I wrote a post on it.
Herencia Altes is located in eastern Spain in the little known region of Terra Alta. It is neighbour to the more popular Priorat so does not get as much attention. The region is quite mountainous but, being close to the Mediterranean Sea, has long hot summers, great for ripening grapes. The Altes family have been growing grapes for generations, selling them to a co-operative winery near their vineyards. In 2010 Nuria Altes decided to start producing wine from her family’s vines, some over 100 years old. She has taken the best from different vine ages and blended it together to create a wine with good balance and complexity. No oak barrels were used in aging and this helps to make the wine a great value.
Look: Grenache is a thin skinned grape so it is no surprise that the wine is a lighter coloured crimson red in the glass. Still a young wine it has a purple hue as well. With hot summers the grapes have a chance to become very ripe so the legs are thick as the alcohol level is higher than average.
Smell: The winemaking process (cement vats instead of oak barrels) really helps to maintain the fresh fruitiness of this wine. It has moderately intense aromas of red cherry, raspberry, and dried strawberry. There is also a light spicy pepperiness and a floral aroma to it.
Taste: In the mouth it is light to medium bodied with very smooth tannins and high acidity. The acidity makes the red berry flavours deceivingly tart and there is a hint of dry clay like minerality. The finish is long lingering with stewed or dried fruit and a hint of spice.
Conclusion: While not being overly complex this wine is very enjoyable. It is especially suited for drinking while eating food because of the high acidity. It is a very good valued wine but I expect the price will go up as more people start enjoying it. So get out there and get it before that day! I give it a 8.5/10 for being very drinkable and excellent at the table. While the Herencia Altes story is like a lot of other family vineyards, I am looking forward to watching them in the coming years and trying some of their other wines. One last thing, I don’t buy wine based on the attractiveness of the label but I must say this bottle label is very intriguing and beautiful.
- Garnatxa Negra (Grenache)
- Terra Alta, Spain D.O.
- 2013 – 14% ABV
- Herencia Altes
- $16.75 at Chateau Wine and Spirits
- Real Cork