Sunday, September 1, 2013

Las Colinas del Ebro Garnatxa Blanca (2012)

The year was 1938. The situation was dire.  For years, the Republican Army battled the Nationalist Army for control of Spain.  However, the tide had turned against the Republicans.  The Republican Army had suffered substantial losses during the winter of 1937-1938 during the battle at Teruel.  The Nationalist Army, led by General Franco, pressed the Republicans during an offensive in Aragon and Catalonia.  That offensive led to the Nationalists gaining control of the hydroelectric dams at Lleida, which powered much of the industrial sector in one of the last Republican strongholds, Catalonia.  Morale amongst Republican leaders was low.  The international community seemed resigned to General Franco's eventual victory. 

Nevertheless, the Republican Army engaged in one last offensive, which led to the Battle of Ebro.  The fighting was mainly concentrated in two areas along the lower course of the Ebro River.  The battle was the longest of the Spanish Civil War, taking place between July and November 1938.  It was also one of the bloodiest, with estimates ranging between 55,000 to 110,000 soldiers dying in the conflict.

Nearly 75 years later, if one were to retrace the footsteps of the Republican soldiers and volunteers, he or she would be walking through vineyards.  Terra Alta is now an established Denominación de Origen or Denominació d’Origen in Catalan).  A wide range of grapes are grown in this DO, including but not limited to the Garnatxa Blanca, which is the Catalonian name for a grape that is also known as Garnacha blanca, Grenache blanc or white Grenache. 


The Garnatxa Blanca varietal generally produces substantial wines, with high alcohol contents and low acidity.  The winemakers at Bodega Abanico have produced a Garnatxa Blanca from 20 to 40 year old vines.  The grapes were lightly crushed before pressing.  The must was cold-settled and a portion of the must, which the winemakers allowed to be macerated with the skins for 12 hours, was added prior to fermentation to provide for more complexity in the wine.  

When it comes to the appearance, aroma and taste, the winemakers describe the Las Colinas del Ebro as being medium, straw colored, with an "attractive perfume" of "minerals, spring flowers, white peach and melon."  They also describe the taste as having "vibrant and spicy fruit."

The Las Colinas del Ebro Garnatxa Blanca did pour a pale, light straw color.  As the winemakers note, there is a lot of white peach and melon in the aroma.  There was also a slight earthiness, a kind of a slate or chalk in the nose.  As for the taste of the wine, the elements reminded me very much of a Vouvray ... a lot of melon and honey, with some peach and pear notes.  Any earthiness in the aroma was not present in the wine, which provided a dry, yet subtly sweet taste that was very good.

With respect to pairing, this Garnatxa Blanca would probably follow the rules of a more substantial (as opposed to fruity) wine.  This wine would pair well with fish and vegetable dishes, and, as we discovered, it is a good pairing with paella.  On this occasion, I paired the Las Colinas del Ebro with Turkey Paella.

I found this bottle of wine at a local grocery store.  It sells for about $12.99 a bottle. 

ENJOY!

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