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You Say Garnacha, I Say Grenache


No matter how you say it, grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties. Thriving in warmer climates, it has found homes in Australia, California, the south of France and Spain (where it probably originated). Big on fruit and soft on acid and tannins, grenache is often blended with other varieties including syrah and mourvedre, the Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape being a prime example, but this time around, France didn't make the cut. Here are the top three:

2016 Clos de Gilroy Grenache, $15.99

California-based Randall Graham was one of the original Rhone Rangers, and he's still making this Central Coast blend (82 percent grenache, 18 percent syrah) today. The aromas are an intriguing mix of savory meat, earth and dark berry. The fruit-forward palate offers creamy raspberry and strawberry, finishing with tangy cranberry. There's so much to like.

2015 Alzania Gardacho Garnacha, $15.99

The initial aromas of this wine, named for the indigenous lizard once found in the vineyards of the Spanish estate, have an dark umami component, followed by a big hit of bright cherry and berry fruit. One panelist described the palate as "lip smacking." It's definitely heavy on fruit, combining ripe strawberry, raspberry and sweet cranberry: a real crowd-pleaser.

2015 Delincuente Garnacha, $8.99

Made with grapes from 30- to 50-year-old vines located in the Campo de Borja region of Spain, the name translates as "delinquent." A dusty note of earth colors its fruity, floral aromas; the cherry and berry fruit flavors are ripe and juicy; and soft tannins mark the long finish on this outstanding value.