Another very interesting producer present at La Grande Degustation was Bodegas Alto de Moncayo from the Campo de Borja region in Spain.
Campo de Borja is part of the region of Aragon, the home of Henry VIII of England’s first wife, Catherine, and her mother, Spain’s famous Queen Isabella. Campo de Borja once belonged to the Borja family, one of Spain’s most famous noble clans. The name is familiar by its Italianized version – Borgia. Borja Popes and their infamous relatives had great influence throughout Renaissance Europe.
Winemaking has been a tradition in Campo de Borja for many centuries. Cistercian monks bought vineyards around there and started working with the Garnacha grape which is indigenous from there.
Campo de Borja lies between the Sierra de Moncayo mountain and the Ebro River valley. The area consists mainly of high plateaus and hills. Limestone soils predominate in Campo de Borja, but there are some areas with clay soils near the Sierra de Montayo. The climate is continental in character with very hot summers and cold winters.
As you might expect, Campo de Borja mostly produces red wine. Less than five percent of Campo de Borja’s vineyards are planted in white wine grapes, mainly macabeo. Garnacha rules here – the DO’s motto is “Empire of Garnacha” – 62 percent of the region’s vineyards are planted in garnacha. Tempranillo, the second most popular variety, lags behind at 12 percent. Grape production continues to increase, with wine sales expanding accordingly.
Alto de Moncayo is a partnership between U.S. based importer Jorge Ordoñez, Australian winemaker Chris Ringland and Borsao, the famous bodega. It debuted with the 2002 vintage. They are dense, ripe reds based on low-yield Garnacha, made with traditional methods, but aged in new oak. The wines of Moncayo have received some of the highest marks by Robert Parker.
Three Garnacha wines are made here. The top of the line Aquilon, the mid priced Moncayo, and the entry level Veraton. The wines are rich, layered, and intense, and have great potential for aging.
Alto de Moncayo Veraton 2012. SAQ Code: 11668241. Price: $31.50
On the nose, complex nuances of ripe sweet fruits bringing to mind raspberry and strawberry followed by a blast of blackberries. In addition, toasted coffee beans, smoke and mocha. On the mouth, full body, quite extracted with a good dollop of oak but well balanced and elegant. Ripe tannins with a powerful yet very smooth finale. Decant 3 hours if you want to drink on the same day. Could be kept well for a decade or two. 93\100
Alto de Moncayo Garnacha 2013. SAQ Code: 10860944. Price: $44.50
Monumental wine. Big nose of sweet red berry fruit, spice with lots of spice character and chocolate undertones. Just mindblowing. Full body. Racy and very elegant. Potent yet so elegant with ultra smooth tannins. A masterpiece of a wine. 97\100.