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Spanish Garnacha Tasting Part 2: Cariñena


Cariñena is the second Denomination of Origin of Spain, it was established in 1932 and is one of the oldest protected growing areas in Europe, located near the autonomous community of Aragón in northeastern Spain. In addition to being the birthplace of the grape of the same name, [or Carignan, Mazuelo], it has an extremely long winemaking history that dates all the way back to ancient Roman times. The slogan “the wine of stones” refers to its incredibly stony soil that provides distinct character to its robust reds and fresh white wines.

Wine Regions of Spain. Image courtesy of Exploring Wine, 2nd Edition

I recently had the pleasure of attending an Aragon Garnacha tasting at Bar Jamon in NYC where I enjoyed 10 fantastic wines, below are 3 distinctive, charming wines crafted by passionate winemakers that express the striking character of such an ancient wine producing region.

Viñas Viejas de Paniza Garnacha 2012


Winery: Bodegas Paniza is located at the foot of the Sistema Ibérico in northeastern Spain. Paniza has a total of 4760 hectares of land, 2500 of which are vineyards, 76 hectares contain vines that are 50 to over 100 years old. Encompassing a wide variety of microclimates, the vineyards move seamlessly between the bottom of the mountains and the mountainsides.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vines up to 100 years old “from the higher areas around Paniza, in the region of Carignan.” Fermented in stainless steel then aged in American and French oak for 6 months. “Viñas Viejas is a tribute to the old tradition that still continues in the picturesque village of Paniza.”

Tasting Notes: A great example of the depth of character old vines can bring, with aromas of dusty earth and subtle cherry hints, light cherry flavours glided along a sea of sweet, dry resins and earth, whilst cigar box spice and clean tobacco notes elongated the velvety finish.

100% Garnacha
Bottled by Bodegas Paniza S. Coop.
14% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Viñedos y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Selección Garnacha 2011


Estate: Viñedos y Bodegas Pablo is a family estate headed by José Pablo Casao and his sisters, and is located in the province of Zaragoza in the foothills of the Sierra de Algairén. The winery’s origins date back to 1760 when José Pablo’s ancestors began producing wine for “commercial venture”. The vineyards are located between 550 and 750 meters high with an average vine age of between 30 and 100 years. The family focuses on indigenous grapes such as Garnacha, Vidadillo and Cariñena, and does not use any type of chemical in any of the processes in the vineyards.

Philosophy: “To transmit the essence of their land and the unique flavour of their indigenous grapes by creating wines that respect its terroir.”

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of sweet raisin and black pepper. Easy drinking and straightforward, with notes of concentrated cherry and wild berries, spicy crushed black peppercorn and lingering fruit elements comprising the lengthy finish.

Garnacha [At least 85%, I could not verify percentage]
Bottled by Viñedos y Bodegas Pablo
14% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Grandes Vinos y Viñedos Anayón Garnacha 2011


Estate: Grandes Vinos y Vinedos is located in the heart of Cariñena, the vineyards are spread across 14 towns in the region at the bottom of the Algairén and Pecos mountain ranges. The estate is “committed to combining environmental protection with the best quality possible of wine production”. Environmental preservation methods as rainfall irrigation and solar energy have led them to become a leader in the region for environmental research and innovation.

Philosophy: The “wines are produced based on three fundamental aspects that form the essence of each one of them: the land, the climate and the variety”.

Winemaking: Anayón is only made during “exceptional vintages” and is always of limited production. The 2011 vintage is limited to only 4792 bottles. Grapes were sourced from a 2.5 hectare single vineyard plot of vines that are over 75 years old. The vines are irrigated only by rainwater; the yield is so low “that only 1 bottle is made from the vine stock robe”. The wine is not clarified or cold stabilized and is left unfiltered in order to “naturally conserve all the intensity”.

Tasting Notes: Displaying an intense, unspoiled bucolic demeanor, with wild berries and hints of warm summer earth. White pepper, toasted oak and rich smoky elements comprising the velvety finish.

Garnacha [At least 85%, I could not verify percentage]
Bottled by Grandes Vinos y Viñedos
14.5% Alcohol
$22 [average price]

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