2021 Herència Altés, Garnatxa Nerga, Terra Alta D.O. Spain.
Coming from Spain’s Terra Alta region, the lush and full bodied Herència Altés Garnatxa Nerga, made from 100% organic Grenache vines, is loaded with black and red fruits, along with subtle pepper, kirsch and mineral notes on the nose, with dried flowers, lavender and truffle in the background. This ripe and plush vintage explodes on the palate with brambly raspberry, boysenberry, pomegranate and plum fruits, plus a bit of dusty earth, spice and garrigue notes that adds complexity. I’ve been a fan of the Herència Altés wines, imported by Eric Solomon and European Cellars for more than a decade now and it is really hard too find a better value and pure Grenache for the price and this 2021 Garnatxa Nerga is absolutely delicious, opulently fruit driven and a beautifully textured effort. The Terra Alta DOP, was founded as a modern wine region in 1972 and is located in the province of Tarragona, in the greater region of Catalonia and has mainly clay based soils, which adds to the concentration or fruit density here. Herència Altés does a solid lineup of wines, including this one, which is incredibly good, but I suggest also checking out their Rosé, made from the Grenache grapes and their exceptional Garnatxa Blanca bottling, all of which, impress for the price, and are lovely in their transparency and quaffability, these are wines that are true over achievers.
The Terra Alta with its climate that is mixture of Mediterranean and continental with long warm and dry Summers and harsh cold Winters, as noted, is a lesser known Catalan region, but the quality of this terroir is a proven winner for Garnatxa (Grenache), with both red and white versions of this grape excelling here. The region is set in the mountains, seeing lots of sun, but getting cool nights, in fact, this area with its remote beauty features in a number of the legendary Pablo Picasso’s paintings. Leading Herència Altés is Núria Altés, who was localy born in Batea (Terra Alta), and is the latest generation of her family to oversee the wines here and helped make this label, created in its modern form in 2010, a world wide sensation. All the grapes are harvested by hand and kept cool coming into the winery, where the Herència Altés (Grenache Noir) is cold macerated on skins and with a small percentage of whole clusters. The must sees a spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts which typically lasts for two weeks with daily pigeages, as the winery notes, ensures a smooth extraction of tannins and color. Following its fermentation in vats, the Herència Altés Garnatxa Negra ages for just four months in large, mostly neutral 5,000-litre Austrian oak foudres. These wines compare well with Côtes du Rhône Villages and are pretty easy to track down, and I highly recommend buying them by the case!
($15 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive