Cariñena wine region: a stony land, but with a lot of work to do, vineyards and great stories

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Cariñena D.O. smells of brumel, urine and naphthalene. Smells like a 90 years old man. When this "Denomination of Origin" based on self-supply was created in 1933, the harakiri had already been done: reduce the plantation of its flagship grape variety: Cariñena (Crujillón or Mazuelo for those of the village). Its golden age lasted as long as exports to France because of phylloxera. From then on, a line has been followed between mediocrity and Grenache over-production, the great beneficiary to the detriment of the autochthonous Cariñena. That is why the category <Denomination of Origin> is too big for it, not to say that it does not correspond to it. This D.O commits the sins of his age: arrogance, altanería and the complex of a Spanish cousin of Bordeaux AOP.


'The wine of the stones'

The marketing watchword for the Cariñena denomination is 'the wine of the stones', but it has nothing to do with the fact that 10% of its vineyard has boulders, but rather with what those of the Regulatory Council have for brains. Its advertising campaigns have failed to change the general perception of D.O. Cariñena: Garnacha red wines (sometimes with Syrah) with 14 degrees of alcohol well watered with SO2 and infused with oenological chip (then on the back label they say that it has passed through the barrel...). We better not talk about whites. In summary, the marketing plan of the D.O. Cariñena is like the rain in the sea or the injustice of its very existence, which sells Vino de la Tierra with a Protected Designation of Origin label (protected should be the consumer of them).


In the other dossier of Aragonese denominations of this blog (Calatayud and Borja) we name the red and white varieties authorized to make their wines, but in the "D.O." Cariñena we will make a summary: red Grenache and thirteen more. Its vast majority in the most shameful oblivion like a certain Juan Ibáñez, Vidalillo or Garnacha Blanca. In other words, having its own varieties that can add value to the final product, it is dying to the stick of the Garnachas of fourteen degrees and the Macabeos sulphurous overdosed. Then there is the section on wine typology, and we will make another summary: little supermarket red wine and six other types that appear in the Specifications of the D.O. Where are the red and white carbonic maceration? And the semi-sweet? And the 'quality sparkling wines'? And the usefulness of the band that is in the Regulatory Council? (…)


Human potential

Cariñena village peaked at the beginning of the XX century thanks to the fact that France, affected by phylloxera, began to import wine from neighboring Spain. The Cariñena region grew then, also helped by the recently opened Zaragoza-Cariñena railway line. But what goes up comes down and today Cariñena needs its Romanian community to boost agriculture, production and services. The businessmen community of the village  profits especially from this fact, and in wine it is no less: grape pickers, cellar workers and waitresses here come mostly from România. Wine is the main activity in Cariñena village and this fact leaves us with several local characters to dust off.


The problems of the Cariñena 'Vino de la Tierra' (for us it is not a D.O) would be solved by closing the tent but that will not happen because there they like mafia banquets, postureo and self-suctions too much. Too accustomed to good things, to immobility, to see them coming and to make up numbers that the Heraldo newspaper will later publish and will justify the 837th banquet of the month. At the product level, there would not only be the production of enormous volumes destined for large distribution, but also its fidelity to the sulfur dioxide on the vines and to the bags of chemicals in the cellar. With all these elements, the Cariñena appellation is today among those with the worst reputation in Spain, along with La Mancha and Cava, and that can't be lifted by insisting on reds without personality for four euros (80% +- of its production).


Normally we usually recommend wines and wineries, but this time we are going to do the opposite: we are going to focus on the wine factories that you have to be careful with and that are responsible for a large part of the production of the Cariñena D.O. Most of its brands do not go beyond the neighborhood supermarkets and Chinese bars in Zaragoza city. There are quite a few comments on these wines on this blog, which reinforces the judgment issued. Note that the criticism is not destructive, it only seeks to encourage the Regulatory Council and some producers to get their act together and look the monster they have created in the eye:

San Valero winery (BSV):

One of the giants of the D.O, a giant with feet of clay focused on mass production. He fulfills most of the sins described above. Village mentality and Bordeaux airs. Reputation very swollen by the Zaragoza writen press.

Grandes Vinos y Viñedos winery (GVV):

Cooperative that is the other giant of the D.O, self-styled Cariñena ambassadors (...) There is a little wine in its sulphites and its vines can be seen from the N-330... road wine? Be careful with the 'monastery' range.

Virgen del Águila Cooperative:

In Paniza, a satellite village of Cariñena. Beware of its Paniza brand that does not even reach two euros. People from the town say that the wines from this factory están de muerte...

Ignacio Marin winery:

With a market in China, a country where wine production standards in terms of additives such as tartaric acid, sulfurous acid, clarifying agents or preservatives totally differ from those of the EU. Let each make conclusions. Will dictator Franco's stickers still be around the corners of the winery?


The declassification would be the best solution for a denomination of origin that walks towards the precipice. An old "D.O" conceived to accompany an aging clientele in the winter months, when its reds are drinkable. It has not been able to connect with new consumers and that opportunity has been taken advantage of by true appellations such as Calatayud or Terra Alta, to name two neighboring areas. When Mr Ubide, Iturbe or Casamityana realize this (it will not happen) it will already be too late because they will be smelling of brumel, urine, naphthalene and death.

1 comentario:

  1. Si eres de fuera de cariñena tengo entendido que cuesta ser aceptado. Aunque te hayas casado con alguien de allí y lleves 30 años sin dar un solo problema.