Calatayud wine region: Native Grenache. The result of heights and time, Garnacha Tinta is her greatest heritage

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The emissary of Parker, Luis Gutierrez said in 2014 of Calatayud that is a wine region of great potential and capable of producing the finest and most elegant wine of Aragón. But he uderstimated it: Calatayud is with Châteauneuf-du-Pape the best Grenache region in the Old World.

Calatayud wine region account about 7907 acres (almost like Graves wine region in Bordeaux) composed of 46 villages, of which 16 have a production cellar. The vines are between 650 and 1030 meters above sea level, but most of the vines are more than 700 meters high. It is the highest altitude vineyard and at the same time the youngest denomination (1989) of Aragón.

Mr Gutierrez in action


- Extreme weather: with an average annual temperature that doesn’t exceed 13º C and very common frosts during 6 months of the year. This hardness of the climate (aeration, cold night and large thermal oscillations) causes pests don’t develop and a healthy harvest is guaranteed.

- A complicated orography: This means that the plots are inclined and it is very difficult to use agricultural machinery. The mountainous foothills and a complex hydrographic network (formed by Jalón, Jiloca and other minor river) form a landscape of ravines, valleys and vineyards.

Calatayud, a (wine) region in Aragón

- Wide terrains variety: imagine the Calatayud region as a rhombus and the Jalón river as the axis marking the lowest point of altitude. This river and its glowings penetrate in two mountainous ranges ('de la Virgen' and 'Santa Cruz') rich in slate, shale and altitude.

After entering in the mountain range, the Jalón River and its flowings reach the level of Calatayud city (the 4th of Aragón region) with gravel, sand, gypsum and limestone. Already in the heart of the denomination the predominance of the slate soils gives the reds a subtle mineral touch.

From Calatayud city to the south-west is the river Jiloca which marks the territory, the climatic softness of the valley together with the fine texture of its limestone soils make them ideal for the cultivation of ‘Tempranillo’ and ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ grapes.

To the north, the Manubles and Ribota flowings draw ravines and gorges of stony soils and quality red clays, especially in Villaroya de la Sierra village. In the south, the Jiloca and Piedra flowings draw a rugged landscape, high thermal oscillation with a predominance of pebble over red clays but also limestone.

In general, the high, poor and stony areas are destined to an old Grenache with low yield per hectare. And, the soils of the lower part of the slope, with fine texture and less stony are reserved for Tempranillo, Syrah or Macabeo varieties.

                                                                     Grape varieties

Calatayud region is essentially a red grape vineyard: Garnacha tinta is the undisputed queen because it alone occupies 54% of the viticultural area. It is also possible to find other Mediterranean and French red varieties (french incorporated more recently).

White varieties represent only 7% of Caltayud vine surface, but it get to offer many types of wine: dry, Cava and sweet ( fortified or late harvest). In this section the most important variety is the Macabeo.

Normally the harvest in Calatayud begins at the end September, a harvest normally staggered thanks to the wide range of varieties according to their maturity. See the 14 varieties allowed in the D.O. Calatayud, in bold the commonnest.

Wine cellars to follow

The 16 wineries of Calatayud are specialized in Garnacha from old vines (consideration established after 50 years). I have allowed myself to make a selection of the wines that I liked the most and that I want to share with you.

Bodegas Langa: located near Huérmeda village (NE in Calatayud wine region), founded in 1867.

Virgen de la Sierra: Cooperative in Villarroya de la Sierra (N of the region) founded in 1954
A dry & fresh 1oo% Macabeo by the Coop. guys

San Alejandro: located in Miedes de Aragón (East of the region), founded in 1962
Old Vines Garnacha from the most dinamic region cellar

Augusta Bilbilis: located in Mara village (E of the region), founded in 2006
Very awarded wines by Jose Antonio Ibarra

Breca Cellar: located in Munébrega (center of the region) by Jorge Ordóñez Group in 2010
Perhaps the most powerfull Old Garnacha I ever taste

To finish I just encourage you to visit this interesting vineyard in Spain and Aragón. I hope you taste your Grenache and I hope your comments. Thank you.

2 comentarios:

  1. me encantan sus vinos y la granacha es de 10. muy buen trabajo


  2. estuve hace unos años y Calatayud me fascino, el centro era como entrar en la edad media totalmente, una autentica preciosidad....lo recomiendo.