Since most people visiting this site are from the Northern Hemisphere, a quick update about how things are going Down Under: it’s getting cold. I dug out some cashmere earlier this week and expect to be wrapped in some form of the same for the next five months. And sadly, that means this Artadi Artazuri Rosada Garnacha 2010 is likely the last rosé you’ll see on these pages for a while.
Just to decode the name, Artadi is the producer, Artazuri is the name of this line of their wines from around Artazu in Navarra, Spain, Rosada is the Spanish term for what is known as rosé in English, and Garnacha is another name for the grape that is more commonly called Grenache in English.
Working backwards from that, this is the first varietal Grenache/Garnacha in this blog, which seems like a bit of an oversight. Then again, I didn’t have a straight Shiraz/Syrah until this week, and I live within spitting distance of Barossa. I do like Grenache, and while these days I’d probably put a half dozen other red varieties ahead of it on my list of wines I like, I first encountered it in a red Châteauneuf-du-Pape and it’s held a special place in my heart ever since. I remember being at a tasting of barrel samples which were almost exclusively Shiraz and coming across a winemaker who was offering Grenache instead. I was so impressed I ended up buying a case of his wines at auction the next day.
I did mention Grenache when I wrote about Télégramme but it was before the exam and my brain was so much of a muddle that I didn’t cover the basics. If you just say “Grenache” you’re generally talking about the red grape of that name, but in fact it’s a family of grapes like Pinot, so there are actually three grapes: Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Grenache Blanc. Its origin is not entirely clear – both Spain and France have claims, and it continues to be popular in both countries, as well as throughout the New World. It is made into varietal wines, but at least as often found as part of a blend, be it in Rioja with Tempranillo, in the southern Rhône with dozens of blending partners, or in Australia with Shiraz and Mourvèdre.
It buds early and ripens somewhat late, requiring a long growing season. Fortunately, it does well in warm, dry areas where it can get just that. The downside for some though is that over such a long ripening period the sugar levels, and resulting alcohol levels, can easily top 15%, particularly with the use of efficient cultivated yeasts. As with so many grapes, control of cropping levels can result in better quality wine. With thin, relatively pale skins, it often produces somewhat pale wine, though older vines, like the hundred year old vines in Barossa, can produce very concentrated and deeply coloured wines. The vines themselves are noteworthy in that they’re more upright and solid than most, and so are both suited to bush vines and able to withstand strong winds such as the Mistral of the Rhône.
While I’ve covered a few rosé wines in the past, I’m not sure I’ve addressed any of the winemaking required to produce such a wine. Most juice from grapes is clear, and so white wine is typically produced from juice that is pressed, and then separated from the skins, thus remaining close to colourless. Red wine is made from juice that is still in contact with the skins, often but not always crushed, and the juice becomes coloured through contact with the skins. Rosé is typically made with red grapes which are crushed and kept in contact with their skins for some short amount of time, depending on the desired colour. Then typically the grapes and skins are pressed, with the resulting pink juice being fermented into wine. In some cases, such as with this wine, a method known as saignée is employed where some amount of pink juice is drawn off to be made into rosé while the remaining must (grape juice and skins) is made into red wine with a higher ratio of skins to juice, resulting in more concentrated colour and tannins.
Navarra is a region in the northeast of Spain where the country narrows toward the border with France. The climate is influenced by both the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Biscay in fact) and the Mediterranean Sea. The summers are hot and dry, while the winters are cold and humid. Grenache, or Garnacha as it is locally known, is the dominant grape, though plantings of Tempranillo are on the rise. Some white wines are produced though they account for less than a tenth of production, with red and rosé wine being the norm. The soil is reddish brown limestone and calcareous clay which is generally considered very poor as far as normal fertility considerations go, though for those who prefer to see vines suffer, it’s ideal for growing grapes.
Artadi Viñedos & Vinos is a modern producer making wine in a number of regions of northern Spain. They produce two Grenache based red wines in addition to this rosé in Navarra, two primarily Monastrell wines in Alicante, and a handful of reds in Rioja including a single vineyard wine. Founded in 1985, they are a mix of traditional, organic vineyard management with modern winemaking. They began production in Navarra in 1996 and have a mix of low yielding, 70 to 90 year old, free standing, head-pruned vines and 5-15 year old trellised vines. They use no chemical presicides or herbicides, nor do they irrigate.
This wine is a lovely colour – a medium plus pink, tending toward orange-red, with slow thin legs when swirled. On the nose it’s strawberry and cranberry, with medium minus intensity and at a youthful stage of development. On the palate it has notes of red fruit and cummin spice, some honeycomb, with a bit of peach and lime. It is dry with medium acidity, no real tannins, medium intensity, medium minus length, medium alcohol, and medium body.
This is a good wine. It’s certainly fun, from the lovely colour to the delicious complexity of fruit flavours. The peach notes caught me off guard but in a good way. It’s a shame I won’t be looking for another rosé for some time to come most likely, but I do keep telling myself that a summer spent drinking my way across Spain would be a summer well spent.