ARTADI 'PAGOS VIEJOS' TEMPRANILLO 2009 MAGNUM
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Spain is definitely one of the new-world players to keep an eye on. It is the land of old-vines, american oak and sherry! The main varieties grown in Spain are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) in the reds, and Airén, Viura/Macabeo, Verdejo and Albarino for the whites. Lesser grown whites include Palomino. Other reds successfully cultivated include Carignan, Mourvedre and Mencia.
Although Spain can be quite a warm country, the vast majority of vineyards are 600m or so above sea level, so the cooler nights allow the grapes to develop full colour and acidity.
Rioja is undoubtedly the long-standing king of all the Spanish wine regions, where Tempranillo and Garnacha are commonly blended. However more recently many more regions have come to the forefront of interest. Ribera Del Duero is producing excellent Tempranillo blends rivalling those coming out of Rioja. Jerez in the South is the home of the fortified wine Sherry.
Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. These include:
- Denominación de Origen Calificada (formerly called DOCa) Priorat calls itself DOQ for Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan and has a track record of consistent quality and is meant to be a step above DO level.
- Denominación de Origen (DO)- Used for mainstream-quality wine regions. Nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain is within the boundaries of a DO region.
- Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) - This is somewhat of a stepping stone to DO status.
- Vinos de la Tierra (VdIT) - A level similar to France's vin de pays system, where the regions are much larger.
- Vino de Mesa (VdM)- The equivalent of 'table wines' from France or Italy
Rioja Oriental (formerly, Rioja Baja) is one of three subzones – the easternmost – of the Rioja wine region of Spain. It lies east of the major city of Logroño, with the Ebro River flowing through it. Similar in size to its Rioja Alta counterpart, this area faces hotter summers and more severe winters, thanks to less maritime influence from the Atlantic Ocean. In the northern part of the subzone, near the banks of the river, altitudes are reasonably low, and this area is indeed the warmest, driest part of Rioja. As such, it can be particularly susceptible to drought. Soil types are a combination of calcareous and ferrous clays, and average rainfall is 400mm annually. In addition to plantings of Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache) thrives in Rioja Oriental’s heat. The area does produce a good deal of bulk wine, but you can also find some truly rich Tempranillos here.
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