In my last post, I introduced you to the affordable wines of Cariñena D.O.P in northwest Spain. If you missed it, you might want to go back and glance at it now. I was so impressed by these wines that I have been scouring the area wine shops for these super-value wines. Having found five wines at Trader Joe’s, I hosted an impromptu wine tasting with some friends and neighbors to help me evaluate these finds.
Part Two: Finding Cariñena
All of the wines are red. Four were blends, and one was a Tempranillo. Unfortunately, none were strictly Garnacha, but the hunt is not over. Excluding sales tax, the five wines combined cost $28.95. These are classic Trader Joe’s value wines that I would normally shy away from them but Cariñena is calling my name, and I had to listen.
The Tasting Party
There were seven of us tasting the wines. Other than Gary and me, none of the others had much experience in the “art of wine tasting,” so it was really fun to share the experience with folks that love wine and wanted to learn how to taste. So I got out some tasting sheets and my Wine Folly, The Essential Guide to Wine and off we went.
LaGranja 360 Red Blend | Tempranillo and Garnacha, Cariñena, Spain
We started with the La Granja blend which sells for $4.99. This wine is shows purple with ruby edges. Prior to a good swirling of the wine, the alcohol seemed to be front and center. With a bit of aeration, the earthiness and red fruits emerged on the nose.
The wine is medium-bodied with medium-low acid and tannins. Mild cherry and ripe raspberry notes come through on the palate as well as the earthiness of river rocks and ash. This wine is very drinkable and easy as a super value wine should be.
Pizza and other tomato-based dishes would go well with this wine.
Bodegas Paniza Agostón | Garnacha and Syrah Blend, Cariñena, Spain
We then moved to the Bodegas Paniza Agostón which had I tasted earlier; I would have tasted first because it was a much lighter style wine. This wine sells for $5.99. The color of Agostón is a semi-opaque garnet. The nose is full of tart cherry and general red fruit flavors.
This wine is light-bodied and would be a great summer wine with a slight chill.The blend is 50% Garnacha and 50% Syrah. On the palate, the cherry notes followed from the nose, but I also tasted mild tobacco flavors. As a group, we were all over the board as far as ranking this wine. Many placed it right in the middle, but one taster did rank it number one on his list, and I put it at number two.
While this was not one of the wines I tasted at the Wine Blogger’s Conference, it is from Bodegas Paniza, one of the companies represented.
Trader Joe’s has a hard time keeping this wine in stock here in Charleston, so when it is available, I will buy it up at this price.
LaGranja 360 | Tempranillo, Cariñena, Spain
I stuck this Tempranillo is the middle and I wish I would have had it follow the LaGranja blend. Oh well, live and learn.
This is the least expensive of all the wines that we tasted coming in at $3.99 a bottle. The nose is filled with spice, licorice and a hint of blackberry. Some found this wine more acidic than others, but we were all in agreement that black licorice and baking spices ruled the palate as well. What I find interesting is that the tech sheet mentions none of this and finds the predominant flavor to be rich, ripe raspberries. I guess that is the beauty of wine in that we all taste differently.
This wine would be a great barbeque or grilling wine.
Bodegas Paniza | Paniza Reserva Red Blend 2012, Cariñena, Spain
This Paniza Reserva 2012 was my favorite of the five Cariñena wines we tasted last Saturday. It is a steal selling for $6.99. This is a wine I will continue to buy as long as it is available.
This wine showed a surprising level of complexity for a value wine which really makes this wine stand out in the crowd. Six of the seven of us ranked this wine as our number one wine of the evening.
The nose is intense with dark chocolate covered cherries followed by old-fashioned black licorice on the palate. The finish lingers a bit turning earthy. It has a smooth, soft mouthfeel with just enough acidity to make you come back for sip after sip. Other words used to describe this wine include mocha, berry, black raspberry, and cocoa.
80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Garnacha.
Bodegas San Valero | Monte Ducay Red Blend, Parchment Reserva 2013, Cariñena, Spain
The Monte Ducay Parchment Reserva 2013 also sells for $6.99. The blend includes Garnacha, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfortunately, there is no information on the percentage of each varietal.
This wine was the most different from the other five in that it had a dusty, ash quality that the others did not. The wine is dark purple. The nose is of tart cherry and a bit of spice. The cherry fades on the palate and the dusty, dry nature of this wine come through with medium plus tannins. Dry earth dominates the finish.
Gary and Natalie were definitely more a fan of this wine than the rest of us. The dusty nature of this wine makes it a challenge for the fruit-forward crowd. That said it is a wine that I would drink with a meal. I would pair it with red meats, hearty stews, lamb, and roast dishes.
A note from the winemaker about the parchment paper wrapping: The parchment wrapped around it is the product of the careful handiwork of two disadvantaged groups in Cariñena: unemployed women and young people with intellectual disabilities from the Fundación Benito Ardid. This is the social stake assumed by BSV in its local environment and the quality of life of the people with a high risk of unemployment.
A Tasting Party?
Want to do a tasting party for you, your family and/or friends? Contact me through the blog and we can talk about all the options.
Chili recipe will come separately in my next post. This one is long enough.
Well, that is all for now.
Thank you to Lyn Farmer for the incredible images of the region and for sharing your knowledge of Cariñena at the Wine Blogger’s Conference.