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We have long sung the praises of old-vine Garnacha from the Gredos Mountains west of Madrid. The first mention of the Gredos Mountains was when we described this 2009 wine of the week, a 2006 red blend made by the talented Dani Landi when he was still at the family outfit Jiménez-Landi.
In 2012, when our Spanish specialist was Luis Gutiérrez, before the sainted Ferran Centelles joined us, we published this introduction to Gredos Garnacha with its tangle of DOs, valleys and provinces. There was this 2015 wine of the week, a Garnacha this time, again made by Dani Landi, swiftly followed by Ferran's Garnacha – now the height of fashion and, last year, Gredos Pinot-like Garnacha and my Dani Landi goes it alone.
Sorry to sound like a stuck record but I was just enchanted by Comando G, La Bruja de Rozas 2016 when I tried a glass of it with a meal at Brat, Shoreditch, in London recently cooked by the team from the wonderful seafood restaurant Elkano just outside San Sebastian in Spanish Basque country.
It has such seductive fruit – juicy but ethereal, sweet but in a Pinot Noir-like way rather than a sickly way – and also a very fine, sandy texture that seems to communicate the granitic sand on which these ancient Garnacha bush vines are grown. It was so delightfully juicy and persistent that I looked it up on Wine-Searcher.com as soon as we got home and found that in the UK the 2016 is still available from Vin Cognito. But Vin Cognito's James Bloom told me that Les Caves de Pyrène were the UK importers and that at Vin Cognito they loved the wine so much that 'we placed an order for 300 bottles in February and received 12, which we've been sharing out like Shackleton's last biscuit'. Vin Cognito, by no means the only UK stockist, expect to move on to the 2017 any minute.
Les Caves kindly and promptly sent me a bottle of Comando G, La Bruja de Rozas 2017 to try and I enjoyed it, while not finding it quite as seductive as the 2016, which may just be a function of age. It had that meaty note that Grenache/Garnacha can often have and seemed just a little less obviously textured. I see that in our 176,000-strong database of tasting notes we have consistently enthusiastic reviews of this wine for vintages 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2017 – and both Ferran and I reckon these wines will drink well for up to five or six years after they were made.
Comando G is a joint enterprise between Dani Landi and Fernando Garcia, who makes wine for Bodega Marañones, thus provider of this white wine of the week in 2011 – oh, I am so predictable… La Bruja de Rozas is the 'village'-level wine they produce from several vineyards at around 850 m/2,800 ft (really high) with 60- to 70-year-old Garnacha vines around the village of Las Rozas de Puerto Real. I have not tasted the supposedly superior version Rozas 1er Cru but saw someone raving on Twitter about it recently. Here's how Eric Solomon of European Cellars, provider of the images above, describes it: '[a] lithe and winsome example of mountain Garnacha but with a deeper minerality and slightly firmer tannin, hence the Burgundian inspired name'.
The grapes are hand-picked and given a very long maceration of 40 to 60 days and then nine months in big, old oak. The result should delight those looking for well-priced alternatives to the build and delight of red burgundy, even if the flavours and provenance are quite different.
The wine is very widely available around the world – in most European countries and also in Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, Canada, Hong Kong and the US. There seems to be a range of vintages available, with vintages 2014 to 2016 widely available in the US and the 2017 the dominant vintage in the UK, Norway, Denmark and Australia. Happy hunting!