My neighbor Bob is a retired San Francisco police officer. He enjoys all kinds of alcoholic beverages, including wine. He is fun and my kind of guy and he can tell a lot of interesting stories, but frankly he is not a fine wine connoisseur. He buys wine quite often and has an interesting collection of mostly domestic wines, each with a funny name or label: Fat Basterd Chardonnay, Evil (it’s just wrong), Unruly Red, Beauze Aux (bo-zo), Ménage à Trois, etc.
I don’t know where he buys these funny-named wines, but every time he finds something new he gives me a bottle, and now I have some of those wines in my closet (um... wine cellar). I have not opened any of them yet, but they are resting on the shelf next to the prestigious and elegant French wines in my collection that are waiting for a glorious wine tasting event in the near future. And I must select special guests for that, but I haven’t figured out who I should invite.
Anyway, when I saw these cute labels on Spanish wines at Trader Joe’s, I loved them immediately and I purchased the wines without hesitation, not even checking varietal or vintage. Yes, I just bought them as Bob would. I bought a couple bottles of each – one each for my dining table decoration and another for drinking, of course. The first time I tasted them I was not too impressed, but I don’t mind paying for these wines because I really like the labels ... and for the price the taste is not bad! Since then I have been giving them to my secret admirers, and everyone says, “that’s so cute.” They love the bottles, as I do.
These wines are LAGRANJA 360, Cariñena, Denominacion de Origen. From the back label: “LA GRANJA 360 (AKA The Farm 360) winery is located in the North of Spain. La Granja is there to entertain and bring happiness to all the people. A different wine – 360° turnaround – for different people. “
Cariñena is one of the oldest protected (DO) wine growing areas in Europe, and is considered the birthplace of the Carignan grape, for which it is named (although it is now mostly planted with Garnacha/Grenache). Worth checking out!
LAGRANJA 360 tempranillo/2011 (large lovely hog on the label) $3.99: “An everyday drinking, soft, round, juicy red wine with ripe raspberry flavours. A great match for barbeque, roasted meat, grilled vegetables or cheese.”
It’s not too bad, and I have never found Tempranillo wine this cheap.
LAGRANJA 360 tempranillo/garnacha/2011 (label shows a zebra with its rear half painted in red stripes) $4.99: “Cherry red colour. Plenty of red fruit aromas, full flavour and velvet finish due to 2 months oak aging. A great match with red meats, pizzas or Manchego cheese. “
It is made with 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha. Both grapes are native Spanish varietals. I like it.
LAGRANJA 360 garnacha/syrah/2011 (this one sports a handsome rooster with a golden egg) $4.99: “Deep dark red colour. Plenty of dark red fruit like blackberry. Full flavour and velvet finish due to 2 months oak aging. A great match with white meat, spicy Mexican food or tapas.”
It is made with 50% Garnacha and 50% Syrah. It “lays” on some pretty good body and flavor... great for burgers and barbequed meat. Many of my young guy friends like it.
Conclusion: I really admire the wine buyers at Trader Joe’s. They know their wines and always bring us good wine at a great price. Where else can you get decent wine this cheap? Anyway, LAGRANJA wines are definitely worth trying. I am pretty sure you are going to enjoy them; if not, well, at least they make great decorative items for your kitchen.
Here is the whole lineup of La Granja labels: http://www.lagranja360.com/#!La%20Granja%20360%20family/cwc0