An Introduction to Garnacha and Grenache Wines!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Wines of Garnacha.  All opinions are my own.

I was first introduced to Grenache Wine down in Central California, where they were known for being utilized in GSM Blends.  However, as I’ve soon found out: this wine varietal can STAND well on its own.

And thanks to its origins within Roussillon, France and Eastern Spain, we are truly beginning to see the beauty of this Grape Varietal.  The beauty in how complex, well-balanced and drinkable this grape varietal can be! In Europe, the varietal is well known as Garnacha, in the US, we recognize the grape varietal as Grenache.  And in Europe, especially in its origins, this grape varietal is producing off of 50 to 80 year old vines.  In other words, winemakers are getting innovative with this old vine grape varietal!

First, before we go further, lets talk about the Origins more in depth:

Spain: Wines of Garnacha

About: The Asociación para la Promoción del Vino de Garnacha/Garnacha Origen (Garnacha Origen) regroups 5 Spanish Protected Designations of Origin (Somontano, Terra Alta, Cariñena, Calatayud and Campo de Borja) and key stakeholders. Stakeholders include individual producers; agricultural research institutes, such as CITA (Agrifood Research and Technology Centre of Aragon) and public organizations (such as AREX – Aragón’s Foreign Trade and Invest Agency). Founded in 2014, its mission is to promote PDO Garnacha-based quality wines and it is the largest Garnacha wines promotion conglomerate in Spain and the EU. All of the wines promoted by the Garnacha Origen are monovarietal Garnacha wines (>85% of their content, according to European rules) and follow PDO regulations.

France: Roussillon

About: The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon (CIVR) is the umbrella trade organization for the region’s 14 PDO and 3 PGI wines, working hand-in-hand with the producers, vintners and unions to promote the wines of Roussillon in France and abroad and to maintain strict quality controls through innovation and research. The CIVR’s mission is to educate professionals around the world on the region’s geography, microclimates, terroirs and wines, as well as the region’s history, which still strongly influences the region’s wine culture today. Shaped like an amphitheater and nestled in the South of France between Spain, the Mediterranean Sea, the Albères, the Pyrenees and the Corbières Mountains, Roussillon is known for its diversity of wines and terroirs. The region’s unique geology and microclimates allow each of the 25 authorized grape varieties to reach its fullest expression in this varied topography.

I recently had the opportunity to taste through some of these wines, and CAN NOT wait to share my thoughts with you:

2015 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut:

Designation: Vins du Rousillon:

Grape Varietal: White Garnacha

Retail Value: 11 Dollars

Thoughts: On the nose, notes of citrus come through.  As you taste those citrus notes stay around engulfing every last drop of the wine.  A very well-balanced White Garnacha wine.

Food Pairing Recommendations: White Fish with Lemon, Salads, and Barbeques.  This is a GREAT summer wine.

Rivesaltes: Appellation Rivesaltes Protegee.

Designation: Vins du Roussillon

Grape Varietal: 100% White Grenache

About:  Rivesaltes Sweet Wines have been produced for over 750 years in the Rousillon Region of France. This Fortified Sweet Wine was aged in barrels for 6 years giving all its elegance and unique characteristics!

Thoughts: On the Nose: Sweetness carries through but pick up notes of Fig, and Honey.  Definitely high alcohol content at 17.5, but for a fortified sweet wine, that is to be expected.

This wine would be great for a beginning appetizer such as dried fruits and cheeses, and anything salty!

2013 ClosDalian Garnacha Crianza

Designation: Terra Alta

Retail Value: 9.99

Grape Varietal: Red Garnacha

Thoughts: Aroma of Red Fruits and Cherry aromas.  When drinking, quite the meaty, balanced and well structured wine!  Quite enjoyable!

Particular Garnacha Old Vine: 2013

Designation: Carinena

Grape Varietal: Red Garnacha

Retail: 9.99

About: This special wine comes from the Old Vines and is made from the Queen of the Vines, in a designated area of the vineyard just for this wine that highlights the stony soil and the climatological conditions in which vineyards grow!

Thoughts: Very unique wine that will pleasantly surprise you!  That is ALL I’m going to say.  Definitely worth a try!

2015 Lechuza Garnacha

Designation: Carinena

Grape Varietal: Red Garnacha

Retail: 11 Dollars

Thoughts? Scents of blueberry, but upon taste, met with notes of Blackberry and Wild Strawberry!  A great Red wine to enjoy over a meaty dinner or barbeque.


What I’ve learned?  The great VALUE in these wines, and how affordable they are for the everyday consumer!  These are GREAT wines to enjoy with dinner, for a summer cool down (white grenache) or over a barbeque!  Feeling inspired yet?



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Summer Vibes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Disclosure: I was invited out to Monterey Bay Aquarium for a day to see their new exhibits and to experience all they have to offer for summer fun!

There’s something about summer that has me always wanting to visit the Monterey Peninsula.  Something about being close to the water, exploring Cannery Row, and experiencing the Monterey Bay Aquarium that brings joy for me and so many others!

So, what’s new at the Aquarium?

This summer is the last chance to see Tentacles at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  It will be closing down at the end of the summer.

But be sure to check out their new exhibit: Viva Baja! Life on the edge.  An exhibit that focuses on Baja, California and the species that can be found there from desert tortoises, to tarantulas to garden eels and the beauty of the fish found in Baja waters.   There’s something for everyone in this exhibit.  The exhibit will be around for the next 2 years at the Aquarium.

Where you just may not know what you’ll run across:

Such as these Garden Eels, that have become a visitor’s favorite.. Your family will LOVE these guys…

And then, of course, you can experience some of your favorites such as the:

Seeing a feeding of the Sea Otters:

Or another crowd favorite: Watching The Open Sea feeding…. and waiting for those Sardines to make their sneaky and beautiful appearance: So hard to get a good photo!

You can have lunch right at the Aquarium where there offerings are pretty good. The cafe is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm where you can enjoy casual food that’s perfect for the whole family including brick-oven pizzas, made-to-order burgers, fresh-tossed salads and mouthwatering desserts.

The Restaurant is open from 11am to 3pm. Relax in their beautiful restaurant with spectacular ocean views. It’s the perfect spot to sip a glass of wine and savor inspired seasonal dishes with selections such as Pacific Rockfish Tacos and Smoked Pork Loin. Please note seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

or you can enjoy one of the restaurants along Cannery Row.  Your ticket to the aquarium lasts all day and you can have in and out privileges, as needed.  You just need to show you ticket upon re-entrance!

Aquarium Summer Hours: 9:30am to 6pm

Adult: 49.95

Child (3-12, under 3 free): 29.95

Student (13-17) or college ID: 39.95

Senior (Age 65+): 39.95


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Xinomavro Wine: The Story of Naoussa

Disclosure: A few weeks ago, I was invited out to a lunch to be introduced to Xinomavro, a wine varietal well known out of the Naoussa Wine Region of Greece. More insight below!

One thing I’m learning as I continue to learn and explore wines is that there’s always a new varietal you may not have heard about right around the corner.  In this case, it was the Xinomavro Grape Varietal, which is the most well known grape varietal being produced out of Naoussa, Greece.

This small wine region within Greece has family owned wine grape-growers and owners that strive in producing the best quality Xinomavro Wines out there! They were recognized as a wine growing region of Greece in 1971 with the PDO Naoussa designation.  This means those wines with this designation is reserved for those wines produced from select Xinomavro grapes, grown in a specific way and with a specific yield in the approved-growing Naoussa zone. This zone covers a total area of 700 hectares and wines made here are grown according to the traditional Naoussa method. The vineyards are planted at altitudes of 150-350 meters. It is also the last grape to be harvested during harvest season stretching to the end of September.

Xinomavro Wine:

Their prime characteristic is their tannins, which adds structure to this red wine varietal.  The high acidity in the wine is great for pairing food such as tomato spiced dishes, beef, pork, lamb, and chicken as well as some cheeses and vegetarian dishes.  Their aromas is what will intrigue you with beautiful red fruits of sour cherry, berry or pomegranate along with the contrast of mushroom, smoke, olives, spices or dried tomatoes.

The Tasting:

When I first sat down that afternoon to try the wines I had no idea what to expect.  There were a total of 8 wines involved. All of these 8 wines were part of the PDO Naoussa.

The first wine (2014 Vaeni, Naoussa) stood out to me in that it was a wine created by the cooperative that is made up of 240 growers with less than 1 acre of land dedicated to the Xinomavro grape.  In that particular wine they use 3rd and 4th year Oak barrels to truly bring the fruit forward in the Xinomavro wine. The retail value on this wine is just $10.00!!

Another wine that truly stood out to me during the tasting was the 2010 Melitzani, Naoussa.  What stood out to me about this wine was how easily it was to drink.  If I were to have an everyday glass of wine, this would be the wine I’d pick from Naoussa.  To me, it was that enjoyable to drink. Not only that, but the complexity truly showed when mixed with food.

Other favorites from the tasting that stood out to me included the 2011 Foundi, 2013 Markovitis, and the 2013 Karydas.

Key Takaways:

One thing I love about tastings is the distinct qualities of the wines presented in front of me, but also when a group of wines from one distinct wine region are showcased together, but yet, can taste so distinct from one another.  I really got this from the wines of Naoussa.

There were the wines that really tried to bring the fruit forward like mentioned in the first wine above, then there were the wines that had more youth on them, and how, as the wines aged (something Naoussa Wines do well) the wines really smoothed out and brought an entirely new element to the wine.

Naoussa Wine is a wine worth exploring.  There are 3 distinct classifications of Naoussa Wine: Naoussa Xinomavro Wine, Naoussa Xinomavro Reserve (aged 2 years) and then Naoussa Xinomavro Grande Reserve (aged 4 years).

And the best part about these wines? How affordable they are: They retail anywhere from 10 dollars to 15 dollars a bottle.


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