Oak and Garnacha – Alto Moncayo 2013 from Campo de Borja

Back in September I held a tasting of top Grenache wines taken from my collection. The lineup consisted of many that I regard benchmark examples of the variety and a few that I have never tasted before.A few mentions before I get to the topic of this post: the Sadie Family Die Ouwingerdreeks Soldaat 2017 (Swartland, South Africa) and the JC’s Own Angaston Foothills Grenache 2017 (Barossa, Australia) are fascinating, complex wines, as pure as some legendary Burgundies, and up to to the best Grenache reds in the World. The Terroir Sense Fronteres Vèrtebra de la Figuera 2017 (Montsant, Spain) clearly shows the style of producer, just like their less expensive Priorat – it’s nice that it’s not an overripe and overoaked red as it’s usual for the region, however it went too far in the opposite direction, it’s lean, a bit light and simple (and hence overpriced). My second bottle of the Domaine André Mathieu la Centenaire Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016 looked like a beefy, huge and very ripe wine in this lineup, even though it’s not oaky; big, yes, but well done, a fantastic wine, which still handles its 16% quite well. One of the best wines of the night for many of us. The Mas Amiel ‘Vers le Nord’ 2016 (Maury Sec) is a secret weapon: a dark, ripe Grenache that can easily mistaken for top Chateauneuf du Pape, regarding both character and complexity, and it’s a lot cheaper. Go find and buy! I’m a big fan. The winner for me was a little brother to Chateau Rayas – the Chateau des Tours Cotes-du-Rhone 2012. It’s another domaine of the famous family, and the wine is pure magic, a real Pinot Noir of the South, light colored, perfumed and finessed. A grand cru Burgundy from the Rhone, a fantastic wine (94 points).

And finally the topic I wanted to talk about: Spanish Garnacha. The Alto Moncayo from Campo de Borja is one of the most well known and highly regarded Spanish Grenaches in the international wine scene. I’ve been following it for a decade; its grandiose nature, enormous richness always fascinated me, so much that I could almost forgive it its overoaked character. To see if it can integrate the wood I put a bottle of the 2013 vintage away, and opened it on this occasion. Now it lost me. No, such amount of oak is impossible to integrate, not even this 16% monster is able to do that – at the age of seven, it’s still lead by oak and will remain like that forever. I won’t buy them anymore.