Aragón: Garnacha pride

Aragón is in north-eastern Spain, bordered by France to the north, La Rioja and Navarra to the west and Cataluña to the east. It’s flanked by two significant mountain ranges: the Pyrenees to the north, and the Sistema Ibérico to the south (separating the region from the Meseta).

The Ebro River flows through the central part of the region, creating a landscape of rolling hills and vast plains. The climate is continental, with wide diurnal temperature ranges and seasonal temperature swings. The cold “cierzo” winds blowing from the north, lead to a slower ripening of the grapes

A grape it’s impossible not to get excited about is Garnacha, which is without a doubt the signature grape and pride of Aragón. After a long-standing debate about the grape’s true homeland, the current consensus is that it’s indigenous to this region.

By the end of 19th century, Garnacha was still rather undervalued (due to its alleged oxidative character) and used solely in wine blends and even then, rarely playing a starring role. But after phylloxera hit Aragón it was fortunately replanted, and the grape has thus been revitalized in all its splendor.

In the 1990s, a number of producers from the region banded together to protect and uphold the vinous legacy of their older vines and showcase the uniqueness of their native grape.

Today, Garnacha is the most-planted variety in the three DOPs located south of the Ebro River (Calatayud, Campo de Borja and Cariñena). In contrast, in the northernmost DOP Somontano, international varieties have a stronghold, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay amounting to 65% of all vineyard land.

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