21-07-2016

Gettin’ Grenachey – Cellers de Scala Dei & RAR

There are those who, if a wine hasn’t spent at least a year in the finest French oak and isn’t from the finest block of vines, then they consider it to have little worth. Honestly, most of California’s “top” wine regions are based upon this premise and the ridiculous prices show it.

One of the elements of wine generally missing in the US is the “young” wine level, essentially a wine produced only in stainless steel and designed to be fruity, expressive, and drunk within a year or so of its release. About the only thing I ever hear that gets close to this in American wine parlance is “barbecue wine” and usually they’re imports or if domestic, some kind of blocky hot climate Zinfandel.

It’s this level of wine in Europe that is really the motor of the continent as while wineries do indeed produce their “icon” wines, what often keeps the lights on is the other 95% of the production which is the “young” wines. All of this was to provide a an introduction to the oft-ignored “Garnatxa” from Cellers de Scala Dei.

This is not a fancy wine. It is not a wine to “lay down in the cellar” for years. It’s a wine to buy now and drink before the end of the year because at 10€ or less it offers one of the best quality for value wines in the region. It’s just straight-up red cherry notes of Grenache with a good, crisp acidity to pull it along. Super agreeable, drinkable and whatever or ‘ble’ you want to toss into the bucket of adjectives about it, there are many who might dismiss it uncomplicated but for me, it’s a perfect everyday wine that year after year is incredibly reliable (yes, another ‘ble’.)

But winemaker, Ricard Rofes isn’t a one trick pony. Scala Dei has higher-end wines that show massive leaps in terms of elegant, quality old vines and refined aging treatments. But, it’s Ricard’s side project, RAR that’s always been quite interesting. Each year he’s bought in some grapes to make a smaller quantity of wine based upon Grenache. I had the chance to pick up a bottle his 2010 RAR 4 the other day and that’s just a tremendously fine wine. It shows exactly how you can take older Grenache vines, age them gently and end up with something refined and simply savory beyond belief. I don’t know if Ricard is continuing with the project as he’s an insanely busy guy these days but it’s definitely worth checking out if you want to see something a bit different.

Cellers de Scala Dei Garnatxa 2015
Red cherry, red currant, raspberry, and white pepper aromas that give way to refreshing acidity and juicy, mouthwatering fruit.

95% Grenache, 5% “Others” 14.5% 10€
**- Q

RAR 4 2010
Prune, fig, dark cherry, vanilla, licorice, nutmeg and spices in the nose that shows vanilla and fruit-driven notes in the body with both the tannins and alcohol integrated wonderfully.

100% Grenache 15% 29€
**+