The Espelt Old Vines Garnacha 2015 is sourced from Estate, family owned, 95 year old, certified organic Garnacha vineyards (Grenache and Garnacha are the same grape, one is the French word the other is the Spanish term) located in the steep hillsides of the Emporda DO in the far Northeast corner of Spain, next to the French border in-between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The Espelt family has farmed vineyards here for centuries, but have only produced their own wines since the early 2000s. This wine is an Eric Solomon European Selections wine, he is one the leading wine importers, his wines are readily available throughout most of the US and he takes a very hands-on approach to the wines he chooses to import. Why Old Vines? For wines to reach their peak complexity they need to suffer, this is why the very best vineyards on planted in the poorest soil, rock strewn hillsides, I have heard winemakers brag that the earth at the edge of their vineyard is so poor nothing will grow. This is where Old Vines come in, Old Vines by the very nature of their advanced age struggle to get the nutrients from the soil to the grapes. Land that has poor soil conditions and also have what great grapes need is limited and hard to find, most of the best locations have been taken. But with Old Vines, what was once a so-so vineyard 100, 75, 50 years ago is now a rare treasure. The Espelt Garnacha was aged in new French oak barrels for 4 months and the alcohol content is 14%.
The color is Raspberry jam red with black highlights and an almost clear halo. The nose is dark and a little smokey, exotic spice, red berries, a whiff of smoke from the BBQ, dark plum, and a hint of toasty vanilla. This a firm, lean, but still fruit-forward Garnacha. It tastes of ripe blueberry, licorice, black pepper, a little bacon fat, and spice. The mid-palate brings slightly sour cherry, dusty tannins, orange zest, and herbs. The acidity is very well-balanced and the finish is spicy and lengthy.
When we started CWF much of our focus was along the lines of “drink this, definitely avoid that”, because back in those days the quality of wine could greatly vary, especially in the lower price range. Today almost every wine that makes it to a wine shelf is competently made and a surprising number of inexpensive wine deliver way above competence. So, my main CheapWineFinder tip in todays wine world is, the 2 biggest bang for the buck wine categories are inexpensive Bubbly and Spanish Garnacha. With Bubbly, they would love to charge you twice the price, but anyone spending any cash on Bubbles buys Champagne, leaving every other Bubbly seriously under priced. As for Garnacha from northeast Spain, 90 point, ten buck Garnacha is all over the store shelves, big and juicy to lean and classy, a couple of bucks either side of $10 gets you a killer wine. Actually you can get world-class Grenache blended with some Syrah from the French side of the border for somewhere in the $10 to $20 range and that are exceptionally good wine, too. The Espelt Old Vines Garnacha 2015 drinks way above its $9.99 price tag. There is a lesson there, good wine is good wine, don’t worry about the cost…….except if it costs too much.