Programming note: I’m introducing a semi-regular new feature, One Great Buy, on standout wines under $15. While there are plenty of drinkable bottles out there at this price point, I’m looking for wines that offer not only value, but also personality, distinctiveness, and food-friendliness.
I picked up this wine a few weeks ago at a hit-or-miss liquor store in my neighborhood. I’ve bought some real gems, as well as a few losers, at this shop. Fortunately, the Evodia falls into the former category. The wine hails from the Calatayud region in northeasternish Spain. Summers here are hot and dry–no fun for people, but potentially very good for grapes, especially Garnacha. (Which you may know by its French name, Grenache.) Garnacha, as they call it en España, loves the heat. So do I, which is one of the many reasons I feel a special affinity for this variety. I also have a soft spot for Garnacha/Grenache because it plays a central role in some of my favorite wines: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the intense, concentrated wines of Priorat, in Catalonia, and the rich sweet reds of Banyuls, in France’s Roussillon region, which marry perfectly with chocolate. This grape is not a wallflower. If you want the delicacy of a cool climate Pinot Noir, look elsewhere. Wines made from Garnacha/Grenache tend to be high in alcohol, full-bodied, and full of ripe fruit.
Evodia is no exception. Made from 100% old vines Garnacha, and without any oak aging, this guy is all about the fruit. Blackberries, raspberries, cherries (even a hint of cherry cola) — they’re all in here. An undercurrent of earthiness happily keeps things from going off the fruity deep end. This is a terrific buy for $10.99 — probably the best wine bargain I’ve picked up in the past 6 months. The wine is imported by Eric Solomon, who specializes in Spain, and for the life of me I have no idea how he’s able to price it so reasonably.
It would go wonderfully with barbecued chicken or spicy grilled sausages — a great excuse to bust out the merguez. One word of advice: this bottle, and a lot of Garnacha-based wines, taste best when they’re a little bit cool. The lower temperature keeps the alcohol and fruitiness in check. If, like me, you live in an apartment that lacks central AC, ten minutes or so in the fridge should be just fine.