Cariñena may not be very well known, but according to Wine Enthusiast, it is the “region to watch.” Located in the heart of the Ebro Valley, between Barcelona and Madrid, in Spain’s northeast region of Aragón, Cariñena is the birthplace of the garnacha grape and the second oldest wine region in Spain after Rioja, receiving its DO status in 1932.
I was introduced to this up-and-coming region at the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa. Miami-based wine educator and writer Lyn Farmer led the seminar covering what he says is one of his favorite regions.
Cariñena, in addition to being its own appellation, also has its own grape variety, cariñena. Tight clusters with thick skins and thick stalks, the resulting wine has high acidity, medium tannins and alcohol, medium plus body and a deep red/purple color. Cariñena typically has aromas of raspberry, cranberry sauce and spice (cinnamon and star anise). As this wine ages, it can develop notes of cured and smoked meats.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Last year, I attended a seminar featuring wines from Lodi. A region historically known for mass production of large brands and higher alcohol wines, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of wines I tasted. From old vine carignane and zinfandel grapes to Spanish, Rhone and Italian varieties, I was introduced to quality wines from Lodi and wrote a column titled “Rethinking Lodi.”
When the Wine Bloggers Conference announced that the ninth annual conference would take place in Lodi, I thought it was a good opportunity to get to know the region a little bit more. Lodi, with 110,000 acres of wine grapes that make up 24 percent of the annual crop of California, is home to 750 grape growers. These grape growers are all family business, most having been growing grapes for three, four and five generations. For many years, they sold their grapes to areas such as Napa. But in the 1990s, some of the growers started making wines. Today, there are 80 wineries in Lodi.
One of these multi-generational family wineries is Van Ruiten Family Vineyards. I had the pleasure of visiting them during one of the nights of the Wine Bloggers Conference.