Cariñena – A Discovery Waiting for You

Hidden treasure map to Cariñena wine is courtesy of

In Cariñena, Value is Hidden
Here’s some excellent advice in wine: look where others are not looking. Undiscovered regions are often filled with delicious wines that are superb values. You could do some research to find out the Cariñena region in Spain is located in the larger region of Aragon.  But that would be of little help. Digging deeper you could find out that Cariñena received a DO designation (designated origin, a quality designation similar to AOC in France and DOC in Italy) back in 1932. It was the second area in Spain to achieve DO status. Recently, the region has started to promote itself as a great value source of Garnacha (Grenache), which is true, and the wines are offered at good value.  You need to look past the Garnacha to see the hidden gem, namesake of the region: Cariñena, also known as Carignan.  In most places, Carignan is thought of as a blending grape and is rarely bottled on its’ own. But here, it merits its’ own bottle and is well worth discovering!

Disclosure: I received these bottles of Cariñena as promotional samples. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are mine.

We put these wines through their paces with three separate meals. The wines showed their great flexibility in pairing with foods, each one was a delicious partner at the dinner table, capable of pairing with chicken, lamb and smoked pot roast. Looking for quality wines at bargain prices? Think Cariñena; the region and the grape!

Grandes Vinos
Grandes Vinos is a cooperative of over 700 family winegrowers in the Cariñena region who have partnered for many years to produce wines. They thoughtfully provide youtube video cameo’s of several of their growers, a very nice way to put individual faces on the people who are farming the grapes!

Grandes Vinos Y Vinedos 3C Cariñena DOP (sample, $15 SRP)
Eye: Clear, medium intensity ruby with a cool, purple edge. Legs with very light staining
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. First impression is a bit of vanilla from oak. Red fruits, ripe cranberry, red cherry, with a bit of earth behind.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity flavors. Red fruits, peppery. Medium acidity, medium- tannins. Red fruits, a bit of earth. Medium body, medium texture. Nice medium+ lingering finish of the red fruits with a bit of earth. Delicious with the peppery Chicken Chilindron.

Chicken Chilindron from Cariñena
Chicken Chilindron is a dish typical to the region, and it was delicious with the 3C Cariñena. It’s an easy dish to make, so double-up the recipe and freeze some for another dinner.  The Cariñena website has the recipe posted  here.

Bodegas Paniza
Another cooperative, Bodegas Paniza was formed in 1953 from winegrowers in the Paniza community. They have a very nice overview of the Carignan grape on their website, available here.

Bodegas Paniza Carinena DOP 2016 (sample, $15 SRP)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a cool toned edge. Legs,but no visible staining
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity ripe red fruit: strawberry candy, hints of pepper and chocolate. A touch of leather in the background, but predominantly ripe candied fruit on the nose.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ flavor intensity. Ripe red fruit is up front. Medium+ acidity, medium- tannins. Medium body and medium alcohol. Nice medium length plush fruit and cooking spices, cinnamon linger in the finish. Good quality wine, with plush flavors that stand up to the grilled lamb chops nicely. This was the most modern, international style wine of the three, so if that’s your preference, look to Bodegas Paniza first.

Bodegas San Valero
Here’s some nice background from the Bodegas San Valero website:

“A leading winery since 1944, Bodegas San Valero (Grupo BSV) has the longest history in Cariñena and has benefitted from access to some of the most prominent vineyards in the region for over 70 years.

Vineyards – San Valero manages 700 grape growers cultivating over 8,600 acres of vineyard as active members of the cooperative. 100% of the vineyards surround the winery facility near the village of Cariñena (with many qualifying for a single vineyard designation); the region’s day-to-night temperature variations, high winds, and notable elevation all support consistent ripening with minimal treatments.

San Valero focuses on indigenous varieties which account for 70% of plantings, including 25% dedicated to Garnacha. A long history in the region brings key advantages – some 20% of their Garnacha is classified as “old vines”, ranging from 30 to 100 years of age and situated at extreme altitudes in very rocky soils. These low-yield plots are cultivated with meticulous care to produce complex wines with rich flavors and a signature minerality drawn from ancient layers of stone.

Grupo BSV is considered one of the most progressive wineries in Cariñena, combining a passion and respect for tradition with the most modern winemaking techniques that Europe has to offer.”

Bodegas San Valero “Particular” Carinena 2016 (sample, $11 SRP or online here)
Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a cool tinged ruby edge. Light staining in the legs.
Nose: Clean, medium- intensity. Savory nose with ripe cherry woven in. A touch of sage in the background. Faint aromas of roasting meat. Mellow nose, perhaps aged in older oak.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity. Medium+ acidity, medium- tannins. Medium body, medium alcohol. Very nice lighter texture with mild flavors of cherries with a savory side, medium length finish.





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