Secastilla: Aragon’s Grand Cru

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Disclaimer: This article is way overdue. It was supposed to be posted last year. Howevr, due to severe personal problems, I was not able to deliver.

To say that Spain has many grand crus could be a very exxagerated overstatement. In my experience, there is only a handful of Spanish wineries that can boast this prestigious title. Of course, they are Spain finest and include mythical Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Lopez de Heredia, Alvaro Palacions, Abadia Retuerta and Senorio de San Vicente.To obtain the title of a Grand Cru, a winery must has in place a combination of several important elements. First, you need to have great vineyards-think old vines-. Second, you need to have a distinct terroir, and also a track record of making not good but outstanding wine. This leads to me the final factor which is typicity in the wine. This is a European term to describe the degress to which a wine reflects its cultural origins. For instance, even if you make the best Syrah in Ribera del Duero, the wine would not be a cru because there has never been a historical precedent in growing that grape in the Duero Valley of Spain.

In my last trip to Spain, I discovered the Spanish version of the French Hermitage hill: Secastilla. The Secastilla valley is situated 800 meters above sea level, the highest point in the appellation of Somontano. The valley boast a special micromediterranean climate with important fluctuations in temperature between day and night.Secastilla history began with the Romans, the great civilization that spread the culture of the vine. During my visit, I learnt that they established a recreational area not far from this terroir ( natural spa) and thus established viticulture to supply their thirst needsThe Secastilla valley, high in the foothills of the Pyrenees, is a hidden gem, with old Garnacha bush vines producing exceptional wines of exceptional intensity and character.

Viñas del VeroViñas del Vero started winemaking operations in 1986 and a decade later they discovered the Secastilla Terroir. According to Vinas del Vero winemaker Jose Ferrer terroir is: the soil, weather and landscape and the people.

The Tasting:

Secastilla Garnacha Blanco 2017

( Aged 4 months in French oak)

Highly aromatic. Subdued aromas of jazmin and quartz complemented by white fruit. A little touch of oak brings out the character of the bouquet. On the mouth, structured with a bright acidity. This white Garnacha has an echo of a white HermitageSecastilla Garnacha 2016 joven

Delicious crunchy cherry fruit with a touch of violets and Licorice. Very spicy. Fruity with nice acidity and minerality. Beautiful and precise fruit concentration. Amazing freshness in the finale.

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Secastilla Garnacha old vines 2014

( Coming from the vineyards of Guardia Miranda and Botiguero. Aged 10 months in Allier french oak barrels)

Fluid black cherry fruit with a touch of smoked jalapeno and Tapenade olive.Incredible balance, ripe fruit with touches of lead pencil shavings, pepper spice and fresh rosemary. Such an extraordinary wine.

After the tasting we had a lovely picnic overlooking the Secastilla Vineyards with some delicious Spanish specialties

Monasterio de Las Vinas Old Vine Garnacha

Monasterio de Las Vinas is one of the favorite Spanish wines of the Quebec consumer. As a matter of fact, it formed part of my Spanish introductory wines and Cariñena as well. So, I was very pleased to visit Grandes Vinos y Viñedos, the powerhouse coop that makes this great little gem.

This is one of the best wine cooperatives in Spain and the world. It’s a pretty cool union of forward thinking 700 viticultural families. Since 1950’s they have been captains of industry of the appellation always taking it to the next level

Grandes Vinos y Vinedos is one of the participants of the Wines of Garnacha/Grenache program. This is an historical joint venture initiative between the Spanish and French Government for the promotion of Garnacha in Spain and France. As I write this lines, I am ending the Spanish part of my trip and heading to Rousillon to continue the French part. During this trip I learnt that Canada is a the most important market for this Carinena company ( they send about 2.5 million bottles)

Carinena is the oldest appellations in Aragon and one of the oldest of Spain. Indeed, its production area was formally established in 1933 but its good reputation goes back to the Roman times. It was the favorite wine of famous Spanish comic playwright Pedro Munoz Seca. In his best known play ” La venganza de Don Mendo (Don Mendo’s Revenge, 1918), there is a reference of Carinena wine through the central character Don Mendo who loses a card game also known as ” las siete y media” because he had too much wine

¡Serena, escúchame, Magdalena, porque no fui yo… no fui!
Fue el maldito cariñena, que se apoderó de mí

Carinena is located 50 km away from Zaragoza to the the south of the Ebro river, in Campo de Cariñena. Garnacha and Carignan are the leading grape varietals planted in the appellation which is notorious for his extreme climate and rude terroir. It is very hot during the day. cold at nights and the rain seems that is always missing. The vines thrive in tough soils such as slate. That’s why it earn its famous phrase: El Vino de Las Piedras.

I tasted the Old Vine Garnacha 2016 which was just was terrific. It had aromas of slate, eucalyptus, anis with deep red fruit notes. On the palate, it was generous, fruit foward and quite easy to drink. Kind of old world meet new world. Soft tannins with delicate nuances of cacao and cumin. The 2015 is available at the moment at the SAQ ( 13838646, $14.55). This is a wine that delivers so much for the quality and it was a pleasure for me to rediscover it at the source.

The Garnacha that goes in this wine is 40 years old and the wine see a slight passage in French oak for 4 months. This is a great wine to have for your weekday BBQ’s or even something more simple such as Serrano ham with tomato and bread which is something very classic to eat in Spanish Gastronomy.

Although Grandes Vinos is not biological, it is important to note that they take quite seriously their environmental impact. For instance, they use the Sexual Confusion Technique as an alternative to chemical control of the Grapevine moth. Basically, this is a technique that employs the pheromones of female moths to confuse the male moths in order to prevent breeding

That’s it for now and see you soon. Hasta luego!!