I went to a splendid dinner at Piperade north of San Francisco’s FiDi to honour Grenache Day 2017 the focus was from NE Spain and SW France namely: Cariñena, Calatayud, Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Côtes du Roussillon, Campo de Borja, and Somontano.
Piperade Chef Gerald Hirigoyen Talking about His Food for this food and wine pairing
This partnership of French and Spanish Grenache/Garnacha producers showcased this Basque food and wine pairing par excellence. This is a unique partnership and highlights beautiful wines that are very accessible and appreciable. I remember early in my wine tasting days I was entranced by the beautify of NE Spain and SW France Grenache/Garnacha. The first tastings of a haunting variety that in my opinion is a highly identifiable wine with a luminous colour, lighter weight, and higher alcohol content where the wine’s character is never lost. Grenache’s identifiable nose and flavour characteristics centres in rose petal, tart cherry, pomegranate, white pepper, and sweet spices of cardamom and cinnamon and other characteristics.
The wine variety is entrancing and though Garnacha/Grenache birth is probably Aragon. Some dispute might be that Grenache comes from another region in Europe. But it could be said that perhaps the former Kingdom of Aragon which did encompass Sardegna (which has been a claimant of the birthplace of Garnacha) is the birth region of Garnacha. The Kingdom would have encourage trade through it’s domaine including Sardegna and Southern Italy and Sicilia. But the key lies in the Kingdom of Aragon as planting the seeds of Garnacha historically.
Garnacha for me and especially for these regions which are close to each other produce memorable and I think wines that have a fantastic homage and support each other. I do make this distinction because I do think that Grenache/Garnacha in the new world does not taste like these Grenache but is identifiably Grenache. The differences lie in terroir and regional differences that make these wines special.
The reception wine was a wine cocktail using Les Vignobles de Constance et du Terrassous Ambre Vin Doux with 6 years of aging.
This refreshing wine cocktail’s gentle sweetness paired nicely with the Onion and Anchovy tartlets and the Foie Gras, Toast and Fruit Compote,
The first course was an innovative white Gazpacho soup with grapes, Mussels, Clams, Calamari, and Octopus–nicely briney and the freshness was enhanced with the grapes.
Viñas del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla Somontano Garnacha Blanca 2016 – this wine gives a nicely focused nose of Orange blossom, Meyer lemon, moist stones, and white tea helping to build to the flavour characteristics of green citrus zest and peel, tea, and hint of anise.
The next dish:
Alaskan halibut, Piperade and green Aioli – superbly fresh and the Piperade made for a perfect pairing with the rosés listed below.
El Terrano Cariñena Garnacha Rosado 2016; a nose of pomegranate, hint of citrus, crushed sea shells and herb garden; flavour characteristics of fleshy strawberry, white pepper and fennel.
Domaine Lafage Grande Cuvée Roussillon Rosé 2016
This rosé is a composition of Grenache and Mourvedre. Scent profile of pink rose petals, sweet fennel, mountain strawberry and fresh herbs. Flavour characteristics of early season red cherry, mountain strawberry, anise, moist stones and hint of violets.
Braised pork cheeks, Tempranillo, Cipollini onions, and braised carrots – this dish was endlessly tender and the Cipollini focused and intensified this dish. The Garnacha below were served and were a splendid compliment.
Bodegas San Alejandro Las Rocas Calatayud Garnacha 2014
Evocative nose of crushed red candy, hint of lavender, red cherry and tea. Flavour characteristics of strawberry-cherry, white pepper, and Hoisin.
Bodegas San Valerio Particular Cariñena Garnacha
Scent of cherry, rosemary, crushed red candy and mix of ground peppers; flavour characteristics of pomegranate, dark cherry, pepper and lavender.
Rack of Lamb, Merguez, Fennel, bread, pecan, cumin and date relish
I had never had Grenache and Garnacha paired with lamb before. The result was a stunning success–the crescendo of Merguez and Lamb were spirited and scented and the Spanish and French wines paired were a very thoughtful touch.
Domaine Cabirau Serge et Nicholas Maury Red Wine 2015
Scent: cherry, stones, espresso, dried wood pile and fresh violets. Flavour notes of blackcherry, crushed red candy, pepper and rose petals.
Bodegas Aragonesas Centenaria Campo de Borja Garnacha 2014
Scent: black cherry, mix of bramble berry, hint of juniper berry and red tea. Flavour notes of black cherry, red plum, dark chocolate and pepper.
This wine Bodegas Paniza, Viñas Viejas Cariñena Garnacha 2012 was paired with Spanish cheese of Manchego and Idiazabal.
Scent of red rose petals, black plum, cherry, cardamom and Bay leaf; flavour profile of black cherry, pomegranate, cinnamon, chocolate and lavender.
Cocoa Tartlett and dried Fruit
Domaine la Tour Vieille Banyuls
Scent of black plum, black cherry, espresso, bay leaf and Cardamom; flavour profile black cherry, blueberry, cardamom, rosemary and Tarragon.
Grenache/Garnacha has versatility from white to rose and, of course, a red wine and dessert wines. I have always viewed Grenache/Garnacha as an ideal wine as a stand alone wine and now an ideal compliment with many cuisines. While this wonderful experience of Basque food–this variety can stand with food and not just enhance but to make that experience special. Give it a try. These wine are well distributed in the US and are comfortably approachable in terms of price point. A memorable experience is a bottle a way.
James the Wine Guy
Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.
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