A Closer Look at Spain's Garnacha Wines From Aragon

The Aragon region of Spain is filled with castles, cathedrals, monasteries, and UNESCO World Heritage sites dotting the Pyrenees foothills and the bustling city of Zaragoza. In addition to being a major cultural and agricultural powerhouse, Aragon's vineyards are renowned not only for their Tempranillo but for increasing Garnacha's popularity.

This is the land where Garnacha cultivation began in Roman times yet was under siege by market forces until the 1990s when Aragon vineyards banded together forming the five Designations of Origin (DOs) of Somontano, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Calatayud and Terra Alta. Tired of watching French vintners growing their namesake heritage grapes for prestigious labels like Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Vacqueyras, they developed a plan to reclaim their heritage.

First DO members had to resist the temptation to uproot their gnarled heritage vines ranging in age from 40 to over 100 years that each yielded, on average, a measly two pounds of grapes. This was particularly challenging since farmers were being offered EU subsidies to rip them out to raise more profitable crops like almonds, olives, avocados, and other more market-oriented grapes. Next, members determined that many of the inferiorities plaguing their Garnachas, like quick oxidation and mediocre flavors, resulted from their grapes being a commodity rather than specialty heirlooms showcasing their unique, richly-concentrated expressions.

Steve Mirsky

I firmly believe that distinctive cuisine and life-changing travel experiences are best savored by those driven by curiosity rather than solely on the recommendations of wine connoisseurs, gourmands, and jet setters. Classic hotels, signature boutique properties, and epic dining experiences provide some of the best opportunities for an authentic introduction to new cultures and cuisine. I shar...(Read More)

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