The SOMM Journal

October / November 2016

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Page 98 of 132

98 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 { appellations } MIDWAY BETWEEN MADRID AND BARCELONA, IN THE heart of the Ebro River Valley, lies the winemaking region of DOP Cariñena. The region surrounds the city of Zaragoza in the high plains of Aragon, an arid, windswept area south of Rioja. With a his- tory dating back to Roman times, Cariñena's winemaking roots run deep. It was the second wine region in Spain to gain denomination of origin status, in 1932. Yet, for all its history as a winemaking region, DOP Cariñena is a relative newcomer on the modern wine scene in Spain, having only gained traction in the collective consciousness in the last decade or so, thanks to a new generation of growers and producers who have come together to create a vision for their brands and help re-establish Cariñena as a region to consider. While the Cariñena grape variety is grown in this area, the main grape of focus in DOP Cariñena is Garnacha, which thrives in the area's mostly shale and clay soils. In fact, Cariñena has the most plantings of old-vine Garnacha in Spain. Plantings average 30 to 40 years and some top the century mark. Altitude plays a significant role in grape-growing, and Cariñena's is among the highest in Spain, with vineyards ranging from a low point of 1,300 feet to over 2,800 feet. The fierce, dry Cierzo winds that sweep through Cariñena help prevent disease from affecting the vines, reducing the need for treatment. Most of the vineyards meet organic standards and a motion is currently on the table to certify the entire region. Cariñena is also the first region in the world to adopt a 100% pheromone pest control platform. Historically, Cariñena's inland location and high altitude protected the vines from the phylloxera blight of the late 19th century. While there are a number of growers, the wines are made by three key producers, all cooperatives: Bodegas San Valero (estab - lished 1944), Bodegas Paniza (established 1953) and Grandes Vinos y Viñedos (established 1997). While there are obvious themes in the winemaking, there are no set restrictions on what can be produced. The Wineries Located just outside the town of Cariñena in the village of Paniza, Bodegas Paniza makes some of DOP Cariñena's most distinctive wines. Winemaker Antonio Serrano, a native of neighboring Navarra, oversees a cooperative comprised of over 400 individual growers— in a village of only 800 people—encompassing 6,200 acres. The win - by David Ransom IN ARAGON ALL BETS ARE ON EMERGING INTEREST IN DOP CARIÑENA, SPAIN'S GARNACHA CAPITAL IN ARAGON High Hopes

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