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Exploring A Few Wines From Cariñena

Cariñena wine region is the largest and oldest of the Aragonese DOs (Denominación de Origen) located in the Ebro Valley of northern Spain. It is sited to the south of the Ebro River, which is the second-longest river in the Iberian Peninsula.

Cariñena was awarded DO status in 1932 making it one of Spain’s earliest areas to be demarcated. However, its winemaking history dates back to before Roman times. In the 15th century, the wines from Cariñena were the top choice for King Ferdinand I of Aragon as well as Voltaire, the French philosopher.

Cariñena is a native red wine grape that most likely has its origins in Cariñena. This grape is also known as Carginan in France. It is thought that this grape was transplanted from the northern region of Spain to other parts of the world. Cariñena and Garnacha are the major red grapes grown in this region with Garnacha being the most widely planted. The majority of the wines made here are from Garnacha grapes. Small quantities of other local and international red and white grapes are grown here as well. Many wine styles are produced in Cariñena such as dry white wines, oak-aged reds, rosés, sparkling, fortified and sweet wines.

Most of the vineyards in Cariñena are located at altitudes between 1,300 to 2,600 feet with vines on average between 30 to 100 years old. Soil is mostly composed of slate, limestone over rock and alluvial soils. The climate is Continental with cold winters and hot summers. In addition to the dramatic day and night temperature variations, the dry and cold Cierzo wind helps to moderate the semiarid climate in the summer. All of this contributes to the characteristics and intensity of the grapes and also slows down the ripening process and helps to soften the tannins.
Here are two samples of Cariñena wines.

Bodegas Paniza Fábula Garnacha Rosada DO 2018
Bodegas Paniza is a cooperative with approximately 300 winegrowers, established in 1953. Most of the vineyards are located in the highest altitudes of Cariñena. 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss
This wine is 100% Garnacha. Grapes were handpicked from vineyards located at an altitude of 2,297 feet with soil comprised of schist, chalk, loams and red clay. An inviting vibrant coral pink color sets the stage for this easy-drinking wine. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry and floral segue onto the palate with a hint of lemon zest on the finish. This is a dry, light and refreshing wine with just the right amount of acidity. Serve with seafood, light pasta and salads.

Alcohol:  13.5%
SRP:  $8.99

Bodegas San Valero Particular Chardonnay Fermentado En Barrica DO 2017
Bodegas San Valero is a cooperative established in 1944. There are approximately 700 growers with vineyards covering a 3,500 hectares area at an altitude between 400 and 800 meters. 

Photo credit: Penny Weiss
This wine is 100% Chardonnay. Grapes were handpicked from high altitude vineyards. This wine was aged in French oak barrels for three months with weekly stirring of the settled lees back into the wine. This process helps to extract flavor, aroma and texture. A soft yellow color with green hues gives way to a very aromatic wine filled with white flowers, fresh fruit and hints of sweet apple and hazelnut. Pear, pineapple, vanilla, floral and hints of toasted nuts add to the creamy mouthfeel and richness of this wine. Serve as an aperitif or with seafood, grilled white meat and appetizers.

Alcohol:  12.5%
SRP:  $10-$15

The above wines have whetted my palate and I’m ready to explore more wines from Cariñena!  Are you?
Until next time…



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