Spanish Wine Review: Peña Caballera Garnacha 2011

by mary on July 16, 2013

Peña Caballera Garnacha: great Spanish wine from the Madrid region

I was back in Madrid and my first Spanish wine had to be from Madrid region and a Garnacha. It was a bit of a risk as I was having a perfect steak experience at the Vaca Nostra restaurant and elegant, lean Madrid Grenache might not be everyone’s first choice. But I couldn’t resist the Peña Caballera, a top bottling from Bodega Marañones, especially at such a great price. What a joy to be back where wine markups, even in expensive restaurants, are so reasonable! The Grenache turned out to be a great match for both the steak tartare and the very special 4 month dry aged Galician steak. Great balance, freshness, and a good tannic structure were the perfect, subtle framework for the meats. So happy to be drinking some great Garnacha back in Madrid!

Bodegas Marañones has been one of the wineries that has brought recognition to the San Martín de Valdeiglesias sub-zone of the Madrid wine region. I wrote about the Madrid wine region, Vinos de Madrid and the three sub-zones in a previous blog article.

With respect for their terroir and environment as mainstays, Bodega Marañones focuses on producing reds from old-vine Grenache and white from Albillo. On their website they say that preserving the special qualities of St Martín Grenache is a top priority. They cite those qualities as being very floral, elegant and delicate, with good acidity and mineral notes.

The Peña Caballera is a single vineyard bottling from 50-70 year old vines that is farmed ecologically. The Grenache is fermented in 500 liter open-top barrels, followed by 12 months of aging in used 500 liter French oak barrels. The wine is not filtered, fined or cold stabilization.

The winery produces four reds and the Peña is its top wine…it costs a very reasonable 25 euros retail In Spain and I was delighted to pay 30 euros at the restaurant for it. For a lower price point, you can try the Treinta Mil Maravedies, the Marañones, and the Labros, costing 11€, 16€, and 17€ respectively.

The 2011 Peña Caballera is lean and fresh, with bright, elegant fruit, and great acidity. Though it has 14.5% alcohol, it has great balance and you get no sense of alcohol heat. Tannic structure is noticeable but the tannins are very smooth, adding to the long finish. Great food wine…Grenache is a very versatile matcher and the elegance of this one makes it even more so.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Gerry Raftery July 24, 2013 at 5:43 pm

we have just enjoyed a 2010 Garnacha from Bodegas Maronones. What a surprise. I expected a dense overpowering red, probably over-ripe & jammy, but we get a lean elegant wine giving the impression of some significant aging. One of my friends thought it was a Pinot Noir.
What a find. This bodega needs watching.
Keep up the good work on Spain


mary July 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Hi Gerry! Thanks for your comment. So glad you tried one of these great Garnacha’s from Bodegas Marañones and enjoyed it. The Garnacha’s from the Madrid sub-zone of St Martín are very Pinot Noir-like, particularly in the nose. They are so much lighter and more elegant than one would expect given their origin. Such unique and interesting wines…some of my favorite Spanish bottles at the moment. Still not so easy to find in all markets here in the US…glad you can find them in Ireland!


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