Azul y Garanza, "Naturaleza Salvaje" Garnacha 2019
"Vinos del Desierto" – wines of the desert. Azul Y Garanza is a project founded by Dani Sánchez, María Barrena and Fernando Barrena – three fanatical, talented winemakers who fell in love with some really incredibly unique old vines in a preserved habitat inside the Bardenas Reales National Park in Navarra, northeast Spain. These old Garnacha vines were discovered growing wild in an utterly lunar-like landscape – a literal desert – where the grapes struggle in the raw, infertile soils to produce highly concentrated grapes with a true sense of place and flavor.
Monoculture farming is undoubtedly bad for the planet. Beside the obvious lack of diversity, it strips the soil of nutrients and requires large amounts of water, chemicals, and fossil fuels. This extends to grapevines: large, commercial plots of industrial vineyards harm us and the planet and, simply put, don't make exciting wine.
That’s why these vines are so exciting; in this untouched habitat they're dry-farmed with as little intervention as possible, surrounded by a panoply of native insects, birds, wildlife, and desert scrub. A truly postmodern wine, it's made much as pre-industrial Spanish wines had been made for decades. Hand-picked by the trio, the grapes are fermented from ambient “wild” yeasts in concrete tanks, then transferred to clay amphorae where they’re refined for a period of six months.
In the glass you’ll find a deep ruby color, with aromas of candied cherry, violets, rosemary, and coriander. Notes of cedar and campfire lead into red licorice, cherry candy, forest floor, sage, and other desert herbs. There's so much going on here! With more air, the wine continues to unfold – it doesn't reach its peak until open 2-3 hours, so decant this for maximum pleasure!
Most so-called “natural” wines are riddled with cider-y flaws or a thick haze in an effort to signal affinity with the “nothing added, nothing taken away” clique. Not here – this is indeed a minimalist wine made from indigenous, naturally growing grapes but tastes fresh, pure, and clean with strapping deep fruit and plenty of stuffing.
It’s a blend of both shades of Garnacha (white and red), although just from sipping you wouldn’t know this is up to 50% Garnacha Blanca! It gets a beautiful aromatic lift from the Blanca without sacrificing any rugged deep plumminess its red sibling is known for. In their words: “Our wines can be authentic only by letting nature act freely.” This is the bold, innovative new face of Spanish red. It's exciting, totally raw and natural, and delicious!
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