May 2021: Exploring Garnacha with Chelsea Coleman | Eater Wine Club

Eater Wine Club

May 2021: Exploring Garnacha with Chelsea Coleman

Portrait of somm Chelsea Coleman. A young female with long curly hair stands in front of a bar stocked with liquor and wine bottles. She is wearing a button down shirt with a fun Hawaiian-style print.

Our May host Chelsea Coleman, proprietress of wine bar the Rose in San Diego, urged us to grab our suits and shades and take a dive into garnacha, or grenache — a beautifully versatile grape that’s one of the most widely planted varietals in the world. The wines Chelsea picked showed that whether garnacha is coming from France’s Rhône Valley, Spain (where garnacha is a native grape), or the hills of San Diego County, it can translate into a most summer-appropriate sipper that only gets better with a little time spent in fridge.

A few things that make garnacha so versatile: It's easy to grow and graft, aka to propagate more vines. It's also great in warm climates — the pinot noir of warm climes, some say — which is why it does as well in San Diego as it does in France, Spain, or Sardinia.

That said, a grape's expression in wine is going to depend on the specifics of its climate. The Los Pilares grenache in our May box, for example, is grown in San Diego county, which has a seaside, Mediterranean-like climate with big diurnal shifts: hot in the day, then cool at night. Big temperature changes do wonders for grapes, with the warmth concentrating the sugars and juices and the cool temps upping the acidity. A climate that's overall warmer may yield a fuller-bodied grenache. 

Also contributing to a grape's expression: how it actually goes from grape to wine. The garnarcha grapes that make up the Gulp/Hablo in our May box, for example, spent less time on the skins before being pressed than the Los Pilares, making it a bit lighter. 

A line-up of bottles from our May release.

Get to know more about the garnacha/grenache wines we opened in May:

Still can’t get enough garnacha? Stock up on more bottles from this month’s lineup to get you through the summer.