Cariñena is a wine grape as well as a village in central-northeastern Spain. Over the border in France it’s Carignan, and takes a back-seat to more widespread red varietals in the blends of modern Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon reds.
But that’s all much of a muchness, because “El Bombero” is a turncoat Garnacha-led blend, that packs a hell of a punch in its 15% alcohol level, which is advertised on the chiefly dark label as being a criterion for distinction as “Selection Especial”.
Such a high volume of booze will put off all but the most robust of red wine lovers. Many feel that alcohol, like oak, can kill the subtleties of blend or varietal alike. Citation required, perhaps – but that’s my anecdotal evidence, and if any of the anecdotes I have that evidence that statement were worth relating, I’d be spending this space doing so.
But wine is such a personal thing. I don’t tend to mind a high weight of alcohol. Sure, you usually notice it at first. But as soon as your tastebuds have adjusted, I reckon they can begin to pick up the other elements at work.
This is usually an issue that accompanies New World Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon, mind you. Not so much Old World, old-vine medium-bodied, relatively soft red wine grapes like Grenache. (Pardon my French.)
I was expecting it to pack a punch, but that didn’t really come through until it hit the back of my throat. Before that it was a joy to behold: jet black, heavy liquid creating a hologram of the ventral-pleated jaw of a blue whale on the side of the glass, as opposed to the odd couple of drips that drippy wine buffs call “legs”. Obviously there’s a flush of violet around the edges, but the depth of this really is devoid of light.
And the smell was amazing too – but chimeric. Now a hint of woody licorice root and now a touch of flowery lavender (although, to be fair, we were in the garden at the time). Overall though, it’s an intensely fruity affair. Undoubtedly dry on the palate but with a basket full of plums and blackcurrants to hold it all together.
It’s still going to bother those who are sensitive to their alcohol intake, but for anyone who liked a big red (or even an average-sized red in big boots) this is a decent bottle. It’s certainly made me rethink what I know (or thought I knew) about Grenache. (Although post-review research leads me to believe about 40% of the blend is made up of Cab Sav and Tempranillo.)
It retails for around £7, but I can’t find any direct buy-links so you’ll have to do your own detective work if you fancy trying it.