Spanish Red “El Burro” Kicks

I went to a local wine shop last night looking for a wine a friend recommended, but could not remember the name (the wine, not friend).  I thought it was a budget wine from Italy or Spain produced by Banfi.  Sentimo or something like that.  The clerk had not heard of it but recommended several Spanish wines.  One she described as kickass.   What?  Kickass?  Is this a new winetasting term?  Or is she just a cashier with no knowledge of wine.  Or maybe she was so taken with the memory of this wine that she could not contain her enthusiasm.  Could it be that she thought I was some dolt who might only understand a crude adjective?  She said the wine was fruity, with soft tannins and a nice spicy finish.  Sounded good enough to me.  $12.99 – a little more than my $10 general rule, but I thought if this wine is truly kickass, maybe it’d be worth an extra 3 bucks.  As I walked to the register, bottle in hand, I noticed on the label just below El Burro, these words:  kickass garnacha.

I have a copy of the Wine Lover’s Companion published in 1995 that says the garnacha grape is widely planted in Spain and Southern France, where it is called Grenache.  The grape is also grown in Algeria, Israel and Morroco and in California’s Central Valley.  Garnacha is generally blended but frequently the dominant grape.  Characteristically fruity with low tannins, 100% Garnacha wines are rare, according to the Wine Lover’s Companion.

El Burro is just that, 100% Garnacha and quite rare tasting; certainly not kickass, but does have a spicy finishing kick.  The Well Oiled marketing company, no doubt responsible for the catchy name, El Burro kickass, published the vintner’s winetasting notes:

Color: Vivid purple with bright red rim
Nose: Raspberry, cherry fruit with earthy notes of spice, leather, vanilla and mocha
Palate: Full bodied with fine, soft tannins and well balanced acidity
Finish: Raspberry and wild berry fruits give way to a long, smooth, spicy finish.

When I popped the cork, my impression of the nose was similar, but I could not distinguish the fruit – certainly not fruit forward, the minerality came through though as did the vanilla.  No mocha – maybe a hint of freshly ground coffee.   Upon tasting, the tannins stood out – I felt my mouth go dry for a instant; on the second sip the dryness dissipated as the wine had a chance to breathe.  The acids were apparent too, giving a little kick to the fruit I could not quite identify.  Slightly spiced on the finish – vanilla, cinnamon and some bitter chocolate.

I don’t know yet if I like this wine, but I have half a bottle left.  By the way, I tried a little food accompaniment with this red – swiss on a cracker with salami.  Bad idea!!  Chocolate didn’t pair much better – granted it was a bite-sized snickers bar, but I didn’t happen to have any good stuff on hand.


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