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  • Writer's pictureJohn Paul Kaminga

21st Century Garnacha: Frontonio

If you want to learn about wine you need to taste. Taste, taste, taste, and taste some more. Also, read.

When it comes to reading about wine, I think you can hardly do better than reading Jancis Robinson's writing (lots of great free content on her site, by the way). She's brilliant and has been doing it for a long time. Her tasting notes are pretty much the opposite of mine: pithy, and concise, but goodness she does impart quite a lot in her brevity. She seems to quite like the wines of Bodegas Frontonio, as do we, and in her notes on their wines I found it interesting that more than once she called them "very 21st century". What does she mean by this? It seems clear to me that she means to point out that there's a movement toward lighter high-acid wines that are fully ripe, though it's also clear that she could mean a great many things by that turn of phrase and would likely take some time explaining. In any case, a small group of winemakers is making Garnacha worth comparing to elegant red Burgundy, or even light Nebbiolo, wines with bright incisive acids and more of a red fruit profile, sometimes (hopefully?) low in alcohol, wines built for refreshment and versatility - basically the opposite of most Chateauneuf du Pape and Priorat* - and this new style of Garnacha is very much a 21st century thing.**

We try not to miss new releases of Frontonio's Microcosmico Garnacha. It is made from high-elevation old-vine certified organic vineyards and it's always gorgeous: a bright and lively expression of a grape that often turns out thick and heavy styles. Microcosmico is also one of the greatest values we can offer every year, and it seems to get better and better with each passing vintage. Frontonio is on a roll, and if you haven't checked them out yet you should do so soon. Don't let the $17 price tag fool you, this is a special bottle of wine.

Frontonio Garnacha 'Microcosmico' 2020 - $17

Maybe the best vintage I've had so far, the winemaking at Frontonio is stylish and impeccable. This is intense and fully ripe Garnacha, but light on its feet and super elegant. Aromas of kirsch, raspberry liqueur, roses, airy spice and Mediterranean herbs, a little blood orange, pomegranate molasses, woodsy peppercorns and petrichor too. On the palate it is tight and tense for a second before exploding with sour cherry and raspberry notes, and it takes quite some time for that wave of fruit to recede and let delicate mineral and herbal tones take over. Tannins are fine and grip lightly, while the acidity is bright and cutting, this is quite tart for Garnacha, but beautifully ripe to be sure. Surely worth following at least a few years. I love this rather rare style of Garnacha.

* We still love Chateauneuf and Priorat, don't get us wrong

** Unless you're talking about Rayas, I guess? But honestly, who gets to drink Rayas these days? drinking Rayas was for the 20th century, now we must worship it, lol

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