The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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SPAIN The typical pink Rioja of today, like those of Marqués de Cáceres, are around 85% Tempranillo (shown) and just 15% Garnacha. of $12 per bottle, this has made for a compelling product. More than 40,000 cases of Rioja rosado were sold in the U.S. in 2011. Fabiano says this also has to do with evolutionary changes in the landscape of Rioja. "In 1973 there was more Garnacha Tinta than Tempranillo planted in Rioja. In the 90s, when Ribera del Duero started coming into the picture, Tempranillo began to replace Garnacha to the point where, today, only about 9% of Rioja consists of Garnacha." It was the modern day push towards higher quality red wine, of course, that caused the radical reduction of Garnacha as well as grapes like Graciano (once in danger of becoming extinct, but still holding on in 2% of Rioja's vineyards) in the DOC. During the process, there was also a change in the complexion of the rosados coming out of the region. Adds Fabiano, "In earlier days, Garnacha was commonly used as a 112 / the tasting panel / june 2012 100% varietal in rosé wines, but these have become very rare. Pure Garnacha makes a fuller bodied, rounder style of rosé, but the typical pink Rioja of today, like those of Marqués de Cáceres, are around 85% Tempranillo and just 15% Garnacha. This makes a more austere, structured rosé that goes better with shellfish, dishes made with vinaigrettes and even lemon soup. Some wineries, such as Bodegas Muga, use white wine grapes like Viura in their rosé, and this adds even more acid. All these changes have created a little more diversity of rosados, and I believe this is what consumers have found very appealing." Says Cristina Forner, President of Marqués de Cáceres and daughter of founder Enrique Forner, "You can taste the strawberry and raspberry of the grapes in our rosado, but I can always smell the breath of minerality that you can only get in grapes grown in Rioja." Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco's first vintage, in 2006, came just as the interest in rosado began to explode. Their pink wine, however, is actually a saignée—the free run juice bled from their red wine. According to winemaker/proprietor Rafael Vivanco, "Garnacha gives a lot of strawberry fruit, but tends to be high in alcohol—as much as 15%. So our rosado ends up being about 70% Tempranillo, which really gives the wine its density, acidity and balance, while adding a nice licorice taste to the fruitiness." Unlike Dinastia Vivanco, Bodegas Muga grows grapes specifically for rosado, and has remained fairly faithful to their original formula since the founding of the company, way back in 1932: primarily Garnacha (about 60%), Viura (30%), and just a little Tempranillo (10%). Current General Manager Juan Muga says, "My grandfather preferred a lighter color and more delicate body for his rosado, and we maintain the tradition. Tempranillo adds body, and Viura gives good acidity, but the personality, for us, comes from the Garnacha—this is where we get the freshness and fruitiness." PHOTO COURTESY OF MARQUÉS DE CÁCERES

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