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Las Rocas Granacha 2008

A Must Have Wine at a Low, Low Price

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With the holidays over and the hustle and bustle of the season passed, things at work have started to wind down. The chaotic holiday party season has final ceased and things are back to a normal groove. This normal groove means wine distributors and beverage companies are back on the prowl to promote new wines and so forth, so when I get a call on my day off asking if I would be willing to come for a wine tasting to possibly add to our wine list, how can I pass this up? The day is set for three different distributors all coming with "outstanding" wines that we "must" add to our wine list. While the previous statements of "outstanding" and "must-haves” were far from truth for the majority of the wines, one in particular embodied both statements so much that I was compelled to immediately share this wine.

The day was filled with boring Pinot Grigios, typical Pinot Noirs, the same overwhelming vanilla flavored Cabernet Sauvignons and of course an abundance of flat Merlots. We were so far from what was promised of outstanding and must-haves until I met with the last distributor, whose wine was far from the boring and the typical. The bottle was the first thing that stood out from all the rest. The shape is a standard Syrah bottle, labeled in black, reading "Las Rocas Granacha" written in white bubble letters, and that was it-- no fancy picture, no fancy writing or colors, just simple and basic. Though I must admit, my first judgment of the bottle was that it was quite unusual compared to the other wine labels, but as far as creativity went -- I was not impressed, nor did I expect much.

After a day of tasting, the last wine is usually the hardest to judge and sometimes the hardest to swallow. I was ready to call it a day; I only had one more"mediocre" (or so I thought) wine that I need to taste and the day would be finished. The wine: 2008 Las Rocas Granacha, from the winery of San Alejeandro located in Calatayud, Spain. Though my knowledge of Spanish wines is not as extensive as others, I know that the varietal Grenache is one of my favorites (originally a Rhone varietal grape) and this was simply a different varietal of that grape. The location of the vineyard is high in altitude and warm in climate-- therefore two factors making this varietal different from a French version, but I still did not know what to expect.

The distributor was running through a list of flavor profiles and in a fit of anxiousness I quickly poured myself a taste from the bottle. I was pleasantly surprised as I poured the wine into my glass noticing the beautiful deep ruby almost purple like color this wine was producing and the wonderful legs, thick and long, slowly running down the side of the glass (it was the first wine all day that offered any dynamic color). The distributor was still going over details of the wine as I put the glass to my nose for the first smell. I do not remember much of what was said after I smelled the wine; for I had been completely intoxicated and encompassed by the unusual, and for the first time all day, the complex nose of this wine. It offered hints of vanilla, tobacco and black cherry, but what was most interesting was the hints of toast and smoke that abundantly exuded from the glass. The smoke was unlike any other smell I had encountered before -- reminiscent of sitting outside during a summer barbeque, carrying along with it different levels of smokiness -- such as toasted hickory. I was completely in shock-- I had not even tasted the wine yet and just from the nose I could tell this complexity was going to carry all the way through into the taste.

I was, for the first time all day, very excited to taste this wine, and who would have thought that the last wine of the day (the one I had been dreading) was the one wine I could not wait to taste. As I brought the glass to my mouth, it was hard to succumb to the flavors as the smokiness of the nose was a bit overpowering. Once getting past the smoke I was able to give way to the dynamic and full-body of flavors this wine produced. Notes of currants (red and black) and blackberry are abundant at first. Then a transition happens that is quite nice and a bit surprising; flavors of leather and dust come through while still holding on to the dark fruit flavors. The mouth feel is smooth and so are the medium tannins, while the body of the wine stays medium to full throughout drinking. The wine was full of fruit, yet offered a quite savory taste that was unbelievably enjoyable.

As I had mentioned before, the distributor was discussing different aspects of the wine as I poured myself a taste, and in the state of being engulfed by the wine I had not been giving the distributor my full attention--rather the wine. While talking he had mentioned the price, something I seemed to miss; because when I asked him the cost his response almost threw me off the chair. The bottle was $8.99--- this couldn't be true, all of this complexity under $10? As though this wine was not already my favorite of the day; the price sky rocketed this wine to "a must have" for me! Though the wine was offering complexity and brought great flavors, the price is another huge factor in rating this wine. Wine spectator gave this wine 88 points, I must continue in the same fashion and go just a bit above giving it 89 points and definitely making this wine Bombastic!

Angela Campanella--Wine Contributor

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