The wine region of Andalucia, Spain, wines, Andalucia, Andalusia, Spain
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Wine in Spain - Aragon wine

Aragon just might be most famous to history buffs for playing home to Henry the VIII's first wife. I am not sure if Catherine was a fan of wine or not, but the land she came from sure was steeped in it. In fact, Aragon can proudly claim to be one of Spain's most famous traditional wine-producing lands, a strong reputation based on strong wines when strong wines were in. No kid’s stuff, that’s for sure.

   

In addition to local consumption, much of it found markets abroad as bulk wine because its heartiness served well as a booster for weaker versions made up north in France. But that was decades ago. Soon these former powerhouses floundered desperately for a new look and renewed respect. Fortunately, the seem to have found both.

 

Ironically, the first major signs of a serious turnaround came from a wine region with practically no tradition whatsoever. It is called D.O. Somontano and its vineyards thrive at the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in the northern Aragonese province of Huesca

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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 too.

 

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 consumer-friendly.

 

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 murflo@eresmas.net

 
   
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