Wine: Las Rocas Garnacha
Region: Calatayud, northern Spain
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquors and major chain stores
In the glass: Las Rocas Garnacha is a deep purplish-red color with violet streaks coming from a densely opaque core going out into a deep fuchsia to pink rim definition with medium-high viscosity.
On the nose: This is a wine that emanates dark meaty crushed fruit with notes of bramble, loganberry, marionberry, warm blackberry pie, spice components, vanilla from predominantly American oak and fine hints of nutmeg and licorice root powder.
On the palate: It is an absolute explosion of concentrated freshly crushed black cherries, black plum skins, black licorice, blackberry liqueur, beef jerky, creme de cassis and notes of roasted meats, smoked bacon and roasted red peppers. The midpalate is one of the most extracted for a wine in this category with yet more black licorice and cherry fruit, going into a well-balanced, structured finish that lasts for a good 25-plus seconds on the after-mouth with just a hint of peppercorns and herbs. Rustic, hearty and powerful are hallmarks of this great drinking wine.
Odds and ends: Las Rocas is the dominant winery in the very small, but highly regarded appellation of Calatayud. While it is a winery that manages vast tracts of vineyard land, the farming has traditionally been dry-farming with un-trellised vines that therefore have the appearance of very large old spiders spread out on the dry gravelly ground. It is a sight worthy of a science fiction movie. These old garnacha (grenache) vines yield very little fruit on an annual basis; perhaps as little as a single grape cluster, meaning the concentration in the wine is fabulous and superbly focused. Yolanda Diaz is the energetic and charming manager of what in reality is a semi-cooperative of more than 350 winegrowers and farmers, who with 3,000 acres supply the fruit for the wines of Las Rocas. These are sturdy full-bodied wines that are made from very old vines and as such they demand something equally rich in the food department, such as a grilled marinated flank steak with roasted potatoes. It should drink well through 2018, and open it about one hour before consumption to let it “breathe.”
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.