Somontano was so unknown, so
overlooked, so insignificant on the Spanish wine scene,
the wineries practically had to invent it. Starting in the
1980s, and especially since the mid-1990s, this region has
exploded into one of the major forces in the Spanish wine
revolution. With a highly experimental philosophy, nearly
anything goes here. Both the range and the quality seem to
know no boundaries; whites, rosés and reds all grab raving
reviews. Grape varieties from home and abroad are widely
employed, allowing for new surprises to come out yearly.
Though not what they used to be, prices are still
reasonable, some are a steal, so chalk this one up as a
success on all fronts.
Before the days of
Somontano, the most emblematic wine in Aragon was without
a doubt that from D.O. Cariñena in the province Zaragoza.
The wine grape Carignan gets its name from here, though
the locals have done it injustice by barely employing it.
Cariñenas must have been pretty rugged years ago. Many
Spaniards I know shiver upon hearing them mentioned. The
wine soon fell out of fashion as more modern tastes
beckoned for something more delicate. The region had
slipped behind the times. There was little question about
Cariñena's potential, the philosophy just needed updated.
That has come and samples from the last five years have
all but confirmed a bright future. The offer improves in
leaps and bounds with the coming of each new year. Red
wine is what most typifies this region. It has a lot of
color, aroma and flavor. While toned down, it hasn’t given
up that solid character you would expect from a Cariñena.
There you have it. The perfect balance between the past
and the present. These are generally very economical wines
Moving north of Cariñena
takes us to D.O. Campo de Borja, a fairly unknown wine
region both at home and abroad. Produced in pretty and
hilly surroundings these wines were condemned for much of
the 20th Century to faraway lands or sold in anonymous
containers for local consumption. Now, it is making a name
for itself, and no longer in such a discreet way. The
grape Garnacha (Grenache), a classic variety in Spain, is
king here and is used to make the region’s delicious reds.
Campo de Borja also makes some fine rosés. The wines are
scandalously inexpensive in most cases.
Another very old region which has begun to show signs of
resurgence is D.O. Calatayud. This land was the birthplace
of the Roman poet Martial, who sang praises of his
hometown drink. Two thousand years later, it would seem
that the region was having difficulty living up to its
past, but that too might be changing. A couple of wineries
are finally proving what experts have been saying for
years: that fine wine can be made here. Like the others,
red is the color of preference but don’t pass up the
lively rosés. In equal measure, the prices are very much
Some very interesting
wines are also coming out of minor regions like V.T. Bajo
Teruel and V.T. Valle del Cinca. So, though still in the
early stages of its own personal revolution, we can
happily say that Aragon is finally rebuilding its original
status as a classic wine-producing land.
Feature written by Brian
Murdock, author of the book "Let's
Open a Bottle". You can
contact Brian at email@example.com