Grenache and Garnacha: San Francisco Dinner and Tasting: A Memorable Variety – James Melendez

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.



Santé, Salud,


James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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About James Melendez

II love wine and business. I am obsessed with the subject, the art, the history, the sciences, organization management, and making things less complex I have been a former national wine marketing manager for a large off-premise food and wine retailer (280+ retail locations in 30 US States); the love for wine taught me the good practice of using the best methodologies to right side a business which unto itself is complex. Further complexity is wine. Wine simple to enjoy and yet profoundly complex because of many factors: Many grape varieties States of wine: sparkling, still and fortified wines Vintage Blends Regions/AVAs/DOCs etc. Many producer styles Many producers Limited supply Limited and often restricted distribution My experience is still a lot of intimidation with respect to wine. Wine means many things to many people; status, fear, success, ‘you’ve arrived’, enjoyment, good times, tradition and even ceremony. I have consulted with wine producers and association. I have spoken on Wine and Social Media, Wine and Video and The Business of Wine in conferences in the United States and Europe. Beer and spirits do have the same dynamics–there are many producers but compared to wine there is no other consumer product like it. I have been writing about since November 2006 on my site and I have over 2,890 wine videos on my YouTube channel talking about general wine subject matter as well as specific educational topics on wine and reviews. I have been a wine judge and have traveled to many wine countries in the new and old world. Wine has taken me to great places. Life is tough for most of us and it is nice to celebrate life with those near and even far. What wine is really about is sitting around a table with family and friends raising your wine glass and saying—to life! I love to write about travel, food, technology and business–please subscribe! Salute, *** A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine © 2020, 2018, 2017, 2010 James P. Melendez – All Rights Reserved.
This entry was posted in Aragon, Campo De Borja, Cariñena, Côtes du Roussillon, Garnacha, Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Rivesaltes. Bookmark the permalink.

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