Producer: Bodegas Ignacio Marin
Country Hierarchy: Aragon, Spain
Grape/Blend: Cabernet Sauvignon
Food Suggestion: Lamb
Wine Style: Red – Rich and Intense
Carinena is just one of several DO titles used for the wines of Aragon, northern Spain. Its winegrowing area is situated to the south of the River Ebro, and north-east of Calatayud. The town from which it takes its name has also been adopted by the Carinena grape variety(known as Carignan in other parts of the world), which once dominated the local vineyards.
The region sits in the Ebro Valley upon one its vast plains. Rocks and pebbles abound and, fittingly, wines are known locally as el vino de las piedras, or ‘wine of the rocks’. Carinena boasts a long history of winemaking and the region is one of the oldest demarcated appellations in Europe, having been awarded DO status in 1932.
The flag of Carinena © Wikimedia/Willtron
Winemaking in the area dates back to at least Roman times, and records from that era confirm that locals drank Carinena wines mixed with honey. Many other historical records attest to the quality of the wines from Carinena; King Ferdinand I of Aragon listed it as his preferred wine above all others and the French philosopher Voltaire thought it heavenly. Wine has long been the economic mainstay of the region and a source of great pride and renown.
The majority of Carinena’s vineyards are located at relatively high altitudes, between 1312ft and 2625ft (400–800m). They are scattered along the plains of the Ebro River, extending all the way up to the slopes of the Sierra de Algairén mountain range to the west.
The region’s climate is decidedly continental, with extreme seasonal and daily temperature variations, although a cold northerly wind – the Cierzo – helps to moderate summer temperatures and keep humidity low. This, along with the diurnal temperature variation, assists in imparting characteristic intensity to the local grapes, especially Carinena, although today, Garnacha (Grenache) is the most favored grape here, thanks to both market demand and its adaptability to local conditions.
With a change in market forces, the Carinena region has rearranged its wine production rapidly and significantly. The hefty, alcoholic red wines produced by local co-operatives and destined for the bulk blending market have given way to more balanced styles. Small estates have focused on quality rather than quantity, and successful experimentation with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah has also added to the region’s standing as a quality wine producer.
Carinena boasts a wide variety of wine styles, ranging from its signature oak-aged reds to dry white wines from Viura (Macabeo) grapes, fruity rosados (rosés) and sweet Moscatels.
The core of Carinena’s designated area also produces sparkling wines under the Cava DO, from Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay.
Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled in this regard only by its Bordeaux stablemate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir. From its origins in Bordeaux, Cabernet has successfully spread to almost every winegrowing country in the world. It is now the key grape variety in many first-rate New World wine regions, most notably Napa Valley, Coonawarra and Maipo Valley. Wherever they come from, Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedarwood.
Used as frequently in blends as in varietal wines, Cabernet Sauvignon has a large number of common blending partners. Apart from the obvious Merlot and Cabernet Franc, the most prevalent of these are Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere (the ingredients of a classic Bordeaux Blend), Shiraz (in Australia’s favorite blend) and in Spain and South America, a Cabernet – Tempranillo blend is now commonplace. Even the bold Tannat-based wines of Madiran are now generally softened with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes © Jonathan Reeve
DNA profiling carried out in California in 1997 confirmed that Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic crossing between key Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Most wine authorities agree that this crossing happened only within the past few centuries, making the variety’s global fame and dominance all the more impressive. (© Wine-Searcher)
There are two key reasons for Cabernet Sauvignon’s rise to dominance. The most simple and primordial of these is that its vines are highly adaptable to different soil types and climates; it is grown at latitudes as disparate as 50°N (Okanagan in Canada) and 20°S (northern Argentina), and in soils as different as the Pessac-Leognan gravels and the iron-rich terra rossa of Coonawarra. Secondary to this, but just as important, is that despite the diversity of terroirs in which the vine is grown, Cabernet Sauvignon wines retain an inimitable “Cab” character, nuanced with hints of provenance in the best-made examples. There is just a single reason, however, for the durability of the variety’s fame and that is simple economics; the familiarity and marketability of the Cabernet Sauvignon name has an irresistible lure to wine companies looking for a reliable return on their investment.
A vigorous variety (another characteristic in its favor), Cabernet Sauvignon produces a dense leaf canopy and relatively high grape yields, giving wine producers a fairly open choice between quantity and quality. Careful vineyard management is essential, however, to coax the best out of the fruit.
As a late-flowering and late-ripening variety, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes mature slowly. This can also work for or against wine quality; in a cold season or climate there is a risk of the grapes failing to ripen fully, while in most other conditions the steady rate of progress offers producers a wider choice of harvest dates.
Few would argue that the finest examples of Cabernet Sauvignon wine are found in Bordeaux and California, a standpoint supported by the 1976 Judgment of Paris. The past two decades have seen a raft of quality Cabernets emerging from New World regions such as Maipo in Chile and Coonawarra in Australia. These are gaining popularity with an increasingly broad consumer base as the world’s most prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon wines become prohibitively expensive. The variety has now made its way even into such established and traditional Italian names as Chianti and Carmignano (albeit restricted to 15 percent of the permitted blend), evidence that even the oldest and most traditional wine institutions now recognize the value of this most famous of grapes.
Synonyms include: Bidure, Bouche, Bordo, Bouchet, Burdeos Tinto, Lafite, Vidure.
Food matches for Cabernet Sauvignon include:
- Fillet steak with foie gras and truffles
- Beef wellington with honey roasted carrots
- Korean-style beef stir fried in garlic, soy and sesame
(sources : wine-searcher)