2011 Bodega San Isidro “Fabla” Old Vines Garnacha

Hello friends. We can’t seem to offer Grenache quickly enough. Washington Grenache, Cotes-du-Rhone, Chateaunuef-du-Pape; it all seems to get guzzled by our list members just as quickly as my fingers can fly across a keyboard.

Today, let’s explore another of the world’s Grenache capitals: Spain.

Spanish wines can provide outstanding value for money, but broad tasting is required. We taste a lot of pedestrian Spanish Garnacha, especially at this price point, but this bottle was anything but. It’s fragrant and zesty, with spicy red-fruited notes that run the gamut of cherry aromas: fruit, pit, and blossom. The palate offers a bridge-wine experience between old world and new (Spain is good for those too), with ripe cherry fruit, star anise, and lovely earthy/mineral nuance that elevate this one well beyond its humble tariff. There’s plenty of stuffing and balance here, and it provides an outstanding summer-party red, with enough gluggability to pleasure the uninterested, and enough complexity to delight the interested.

As usual, there are no accidents in the wine world. This wine is good for a reason.

Let’s start with vine age. These average 40 years old, and give a natural yield of 1 ton/acre. How any of our Spanish compatriots can make money harvesting those meager yields, vinifying, aging, bottling, *shipping over an ocean*, clearing customs, distributing, and slotting on a retail shelf for $10 is beyond me. If I could figure it out, I’d write a business-school case study, but for now, we’ll have to settle for a shrug of the shoulders and a smile on my face as I think of cracking one of these open with cheeseburgers smoldering on the grill.

Bodega San Isidro is a cooperative cellar founded in 1965 and based in Maluenda (location here). We’re inside DO Calatayud (here’s the map), in the hotter interior of Spain (with a climate not so different from eastern Washington). These older vines are tended by a number of different growers and then are produced cooperatively under the direction of a single winemaker (Sebastián Hernández Oliván). Most of the soils for this bottling are on slate and quartzite slopes, which helps to explain the lovely minerality that plays perfect complement to the lush red fruit that Grenache (or Garnacha) is known for.

Please note: this is not the regular Fabla Garnacha, nor the Fabla Tempranillo-Garnacha. Both of those are a little cheaper, and while both provide fine value, this old vine Garnacha is the way to go. For just a few bucks more, we get a huge return, in polish, class, and old-vine intensity.

The only drawback: there’s not too much of this remaining in Seattle, so we may have to allocate if orders come in hot. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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