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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Spanish Garnacha Tasting Part 1: Garnacha Blanca


Garnacha Blanca [a mutation of the red Garnacha grape] has long been utilized as a blending grape in both France and Spain. Recently pioneering winemakers have been crafting lush, expressive single varietal Garnacha Blanca wines with complex texture, subtle fruit, good mineral and earth notes and a long finish. Most significantly, in Aragon, northeastern Spain, where it originated, five D.O regions [Calatayud, Terra Alta, Somontano, Campo de Borja and Cariñena] are producing exemplary wines that are at least eighty-five percent Garnacha. I recently had the pleasure of attending an Aragon Garnacha tasting at Bar Jamon in NYC with 8 red Garnacha and 2 white Garnacha. With its unique character and relatively scarce availability in many areas, the first installment of my review is devoted solely to the Garnacha Blanca wines.

La Fou Els Amelers 2013


Estate: LaFou Cellars [Fou translates to narrow pass or ravine, which is a dominant characteristic of the land of Terra Alta] was founded in 2007 by Ramon Roqueta Segalés, the youngest member of a family with a winemaking history that dates back to the 12th century. His aim is “to extract the best from our vineyards and land” and “relentlessly seek to express the history and identity of the native soil through its fruits, its wines”.

Winemaking: Left on the lees for 7 months, 10% of the wine rested in toasted barrels for 4 months “in order to develop tannins, complexity and structure, without aromas”.

Tasting Notes: Pale yellow in colour with aromas of apple and white flowers. Red apple and nectarine flavours were enveloped with a lively acidity, whilst citrus zest and nutty hints lingered invitingly between each sip.

100% White Grenache
Terra Alta
13% Alcohol
$17 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2016

Vinas del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca 2012


Estate: Viñas del Vero was founded in 1986 in the Somontano region of Aragon, northern Spain. Today with their 700 hectares of vineyards, they are the leading winery in Somontano for volume and quality of wines. They practice sustainable and organic viticulture. Along with initiatives to restore indigenous plants, many of the vineyards are located on steep slopes, where the vines act as a natural stabilizer for the land. The estate belongs to the prestigious Association of the Great Estates of Spain.

Philosophy: “To develop a quality, sustainable and environmentally-friendly viticulture industry.”

Winemaking: Vineyards are farmed both organically and sustainably. Grapes for La Miranda Garnacha Blanc were sourced from vines nearly 100 years old.

Tasting Notes: Gold in colour with aromas of lemon and white flowers. Ethereal flavours of lemon and minerals metaphorphosed into zippy citrus notes in the clean finish. Light and refreshing this is fantastic on its own or can be paired with a wide variety of dishes.

100% Garnacha Blanca
13.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2015


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Hob Nob Vineyards Wicked Red Blend 2012


An appropriately festive, limited edition red blend for All Hallows Eve.

Winery: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits and Les Vins Georges Dubœuf developed Hob Nob in 2007 with a goal of producing “approachable, yet stylish and sophisticated” wines. Deutsch Family was founded in 1981 by Bill Deutsch and has grown over the years with a portfolio of over 170 international brands, including giants such as Yellow Tail and Josh Cellars. Winemaker Georges Dubœuf is one of the largest and most famous wine merchants in France, and is viewed as “single handedly popularizing the annual Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon”.

Tasting Notes: Red violet in colour with aromas of cherry, chocolate and traces of menthol. Both black cherry and cherry flavours backed by chocolate, oak and earth elements, finishing with crushed black peppercorn and hints of plush cedar.

40% Grenache, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Shiraz, 10% Pinot Noir
Produced and Bottled by Hob Nob Vineyards
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2015

Symington Altano Douro DOC 2011


Confident and bold, this red blend is from the largest family estate in Portugal and craves to be paired with hearty dishes.

Estate: The Symington family has been involved with winemaking in the Douro Valley of Portugal since 1882, and through their great grandmother, can trace their winemaking back 14 generations to the mid 17th century. Today the family is the largest vineyard owner in the Douro Valley, with multiple vineyards extending across 947 hectares. They are recognised for being at the forefront of Douro winemaking and renowned for their “outstanding ports”.

Winemaking: With their vast holdings of land, the family places great importance on preserving the environment. All vineyards are farmed both organically and sustainably, and with their conservation efforts they have seen considerable results such as the return of indigenous animals and plants. Altano was crafted to be “ideal for everyday, informal drinking at home with family or with friends, a great wine to relax and unwind with”. Vinified in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, fresh herbs and hints of balsamic. Concentrated black cherry and plum flavours were contrasted by vegetal tomato leaf notes in the full body, whilst black peppercorn, lingering cherry and traces of tarry earth comprised the moderate finish.

A blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Barroca [the “proportions of each vary from year to year”]
Bottled by Symington Family Estates
13.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2015

Rated 91 points by Wine Spectator