Visiting this dynamic, Rioja- based Spanish wine company, part 2: Garnachas de Espa



We drove and drove, from Rioja, through Navarra, and into Aragon. We were heading to the Pyrenees, and the destination was the beautiful Uncastellum vineyard. It is remote: the last 10 km of the journey have to be done by 4x4 on unmade roads, but it was worth the effort. Vintae have taken a 100 year lease on this vineyard, which consists of 22.5 hectares of vines at 800 m altitude in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It has always been organically farmed since the vines were planted some fifteen years ago, and the first vintage they made wine here from was in 2015. The appellation? It's the rather unwieldy Vina de Tierra de Cinco Villas y el Rio Gállego.

vintae garnacha



This vineyard will be the latest addition to the Garnachas de España series of wines from Vintae, distinctively labelled with a picture of a vine on each, showing a stylised depiction of the root system interrogating the soil. The Garnacha from here will be called Perdida del Pirineo. We tasted a cask sample of this along with the other members of the range:

 vintae garnachas espana

La Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo 2015 Spain
This is a mountain between the south of Navarra and the west of Aragon. 810 m, 55 year old vines, stony soil with schist. Lots of abandoned old vineyards here. It’s Vino de la Tierra Ribera del Queiles. Lovely supple, rounded fruit with lovely juicy cherry and raspberry fruit. Very fresh and supple and superbly drinkable. This is the Pinot Noir of the south and it's beautifully done with fine detail and nice acidity. There’s a lovely mineral core and the sweetness of the fruit is really direct and seductive, but it's fresh and balanced. 92/100 (Wine Society and Majestic for £8.99)

La Garnatxa Fosca del Priorat 2014 Priorat, Spain
Comes from El Molar, and it's at 310 m with schist soils. 14.5% alcohol. Warm, sweet, spicy, herbal berry fruits nose. Warm, spicy and a bit peppery with warmth and ripeness but also dusty, spicy detail. Grippy and structured but shows restraint. Fresh acidity on the finish. A really distinctive wine that tastes Mediterranean. 91/100 (c£11)


La Garnacha Olvidada de Aragon 2013 Calatayud, Spain
Vineyard planted in 1941 at 850 m, with ferrous clay and stony soils. 14.5% alcohol. Fresh, direct, structured and intense, this is a big, impressive wine that combines ripe fruit with good structure and freshness. There's a vivid, chalky, bright edge to the raspberry and cherry fruit. Lovely intensity here with potential for further development. Modern styled but good. 92/100 (c£12 Cambridge Wine Merchants)

La Garnacha Perdida del Pirineo 2015 (cask sample)
Vines planted 1999, altitude 790 m, clay with limestone, facing south east. 15.5% alcohol. Amazing floral nose with cherries, herbs and liqueur-like sweet raspberries. The palate is very fresh with sweet, pure fruit and a nice black pepper character, as well as some exotic Mediterranean herb notes. There
's a slight saltiness, too. Despite the elevated alcohol, this is very fresh. 93/100

El Garnacha Viejo de la Familia Acha 2010 Vino de Mesa, Spain
15.5% alcohol. From a 1906 vineyard, this is 90% Garnacha and 10% other varieties (mixed plantings). It's Rioja, but they couldn't label it this way and still call it Rioja. 'This isn’t our house style,' says Raúl Acha, 'but we wanted to make a Garnacha for long ageing.' Structured, pure and concentrated with fine raspberry and cherry fruit with a bit of blackberry richness. Some chocolate and spice notes. This has a lovely grainy intensity. Powerful, broad but focused with nice finesse, lots of power and some oak. 93/100

La Garnacha de Hielo 2014 Spain
This is an ice wine Grenache. The grapes are left hanging over winter, and if they aren't eaten by the birds and the temperature drops enough, they are picked frozen and pressed in the vineyard, and allowed to ferment slowly over winter. Very linear with integrated acidity and notes of citrus and marmalade, as well as some cherry. Intense and spicy with lovely precision. Very sweet with amazing acidity. 92/100

We also tried an older wine from this vineyard, made by the previous owner:

Uncastellum 2003 Vino de la Tierra Ribera del Gallego-Cinco Villas, Spain
13.5% alcohol. Tempranillo, Grenache, Cabernet and Merlot. Sweet berry fruits with some lush blackberry character and fine spicy notes. Generous and ripe with nice balance and freshness. 90/100

See also:

The wines of Marques de Murrieta
Visiting Rioja (series)
Vintae Part 2, Garnachas de Espana
Vintae Part 3, in the vineyards of Rioja

Wines tasted 10/16

Find these wines with

Back to top