WINE OF THE WEEK: La Granja Garnacha Syrah

Wine: La Granja Garnacha Syrah

Grapes: Garnacha (50 percent), syrah (50 percent)

Region: Carinena, Northern Spain

Vintage: 2011

Price: $4.99

Availability: Trader Joe’s

In the glass: La Granja wine is a deeply opaque purplish-red color with a dense core going out into a fine violet to fuchsia rim definition and fairly high viscosity.

On the nose: This is a classic nose of cracked black pepper intermingled with crushed rustic black fruit dominated by huckleberries, sloe fruit, loganberries, touches of juniper, garrigue, forest floor, violet pastilles, white pepper and black English licorice.

On the palate: This is a wine that thoroughly follows up on the notes that emanated from the glass with big muscular rustically endowed black fruits, forward tannin structure with smashed black cherries, sloe fruit, huckleberry-saucelike reduction with concentrated pepper-laced notes through the midpalate. Touches of bay leaves, white peppercorns and salsa rustica lead into a fairly nicely balanced finish that still has hints of dry minerals, forward acidity and licorice root.

Carinena is Spain’s equivalent to the original French Rhone Valley grape variety known as carignane, but it also happens to be the name of a wine-producing region in the northeastern part of the country. This indicates that they’re serious about wine, and as one of the oldest named appellations in all of Europe, having been first cultivated for wine by the Romans in the third century B.C., having gotten the Spanish appellation status of DO (denominacion de origen) in 1932, Carinena produces a range of tasty, sturdy and affordable wines.

These are not only available on the domestic market, which still accounts for 80 percent of the production, but also in the U.S., where consumers can buy bottles like this La Granja for less than $5.

This is a wine that can handle a lot in the food department, so if you fancy a pair of lamb chops rubbed in spices or just a bowl of ratatouille on a bed of brown rice, you’re going to be just fine. This bottling comes with a handy screwcap so after you have a glass tonight, then you have some left for later. Drink it now through 2015.

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at