Winery: Located in the Cariñena region of northern Spain, the San Valero Cooperative was founded in 1944 [making it the oldest winery in Cariñena] by 60 growers who at the time were producing bulk wines. Today the cooperative consists of more than 700 members that cultivate 3500 hectares of vineyards located between the rivers Huerva and Jalón. They focus on producing high quality wines using modern technology.
Winemaking: Grapes are from vines more than 25 years old. Aged for at least 6 months in French oak.
Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of black cherry, plum, black pepper and a wisp of sweet smoky earth. Dense, dark fruits are dusted with crushed black peppercorn. Velvety tannins and a trace of menthol supplement the rich, plush texture. Baking chocolate and a drop of espresso compliment the fruity finish. Engaging and expressive, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.
Estate Bottled by Bodegas San Valero S. Coop
$10 [average price]
Rated 85 points and a “Best Buy” by Wine Enthusiast
Sample submitted for review purpose.
Estate: Grandes Vinos y Viñedos 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: Grapes were sourced from old vine, high elevation vineyards, aged for 4 months in French oak barrels.
Tasting Notes: Garnet in colour with aromas of wild berries, black cherry, cinnamon, anise and a hint of vanilla. Abounding with all the cherries, plus red currant and cozy baking spices. Wooly tannins and a streak of granite minerality highlight crushed black peppercorn on the dry, fruity finish. Super food friendly, and great on its own.
Produced & Bottled by Grandes Vinos y Viñedos
$11 [average price]
Sample submitted for review purpose.
Estate: 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 vineyards with schist, chalk, loams and red clay soils, located in hilly terrain at the base of the Iberian Mountains.
Tasting Notes: Cherry red in colour with aromas of pomegranate, green tea and white pepper. Bursting with strawberry, raspberry and watermelon, with a subtle hint of violets. Silky smooth tannins compliment the dry, lightly spiced finish. Thirst quenching and vibrant, this drinks more like a light red.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Ideal with seafood, pastas and poultry.
Bottled by Bodegas Paniza
$12 [average price]
Rated 85 points and a ‘Best Buy’ by Wine Enthusiast
Sample submitted fro review purpose.
Estate: Domaine Lafage was officially established by Jean-Marc along with his wife, winemaker Eliane Lafage in 1996, however Jean-Marc Lafage’s family have been growing grapes in the Roussillon for 6 generations. The estate encompasses more than 200 hectares in the Roussillon, 138 hectares of which are vineyards. Jean-Marc transformed the family vineyards into a domaine and began estate bottling the grapes. Jean-Marc Lafage’s wines have gained such notoriety that he is now one of “the most sought-after winemakers of Europe”. He consults at several of the top estates in both France and Spain, and crafts ‘Las Rocas’ wines with renowned importer Eric Solomon.
Philosophy: “A healthy form of viticulture that respects the environment through a sound culture”.
Winemaking: Focusing on their old vines, they employ both recent technology such as foliage analysis and field monitoring, along with traditional methods such as organic and sustainable farming, hand harvesting and only minimal intervention during production.
Grapes are sourced from terraced vineyards surrounded by garrigue at the foot of the Pyrenees. Soils are a mix of “schisto-marbreux” gravel. 20% of the wine was aged for 10 months in Burgundian barrels of French wood.
Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, raspberry, black pepper, earth and traces of cigar box. Silky tannins wrap around cherry, black currant, black cherry and crushed black peppercorn. Fruit and clove notes linger between each sip. A great value, fantastic on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. [It was excellent with faux sausage, basil, ricotta pizza.]
Côtes Catalanes IGP
Mis en Bouteille au Domaine [front label] Bottled by S.C.E.A. Maison Lafage Mas Miraflors [back label]
Rated 92 points by Wine Advocate
Brand: Produced by one of the “oldest winemaking families in Rioja”, with the intention of inspiring “a resurgence of the Garnacha varietal in the Rioja region of showcasing that world-class Garnacha can still be produced there”. The name ‘La Maldita’ means cursed, and is what many winemakers in Rioja refer to Garnacha as. Thin, sensitive skin and low yields were one of the reasons that most Garnacha vineyards have been replanted with “less temperamental varieties”. Although historically the Garnacha used to represent “roughly half of the entire region under vine, today it accounts for less than 10% of all vineyard plantings in Rioja”.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed, estate-owned, high elevation vineyards with gravel and alluvial silt “which help with drainage and contribute a hint of minerality to the wine”. The majority of the wine rested on its lees in stainless steel for a few months, whilst a small percentage was aged in small French and American oak barrels “for a hint of complexity”.
Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries, black pepper and brambly shrubs. Flinty mineral driven, with fresh blackberry and tart cherry flavours. Crushed black peppercorn and fresh berries linger on the dry finish. Simple and pleasant, best with food, a cheerful, gluggable Garnacha.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Enjoy with everyday favorites such as pizza, pastas, burgers, and grilled vegetables.
Produced and Bottled by Viñeds La Maldita
Rated 89 points by the Wine Advocate