ABOVE, TOP: Grandes Vinos migas (toasted breadcrumbs) with eggs and grapes at
ABOVE, MIDDLE: Bodegas Aragonesas tasting room with jamon serrano.
ABOVE, BOTTOM: Cellers Unió vineyard in Terra Alta.
Launched in 1984, Bodegas Aragonesas,
sells about 50 brands, from Aragonia to Coto de
Hayas and Fagus. The winery has helped overturn
garnacha’s reputation for inability to age because
of naturally low tannin levels. Because of careful
integration of oak, the winery’s Galiano label has
gained repute for aging. The garnacha vines for
Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria are nearly
100 years old.
Sommelier Rebecca Connelly finds the Fagus
brand fits well with the seasonal, full-flavored
menu at The Market, a wine-oriented restaurant
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Though she stocks
300 bottles of Spanish wine, she often turns to
garnacha for its bold robustness, high acid to pair
with food and earthy, leathery aromas.
A key pairing factor for garnacha, says
Connelly, is its ability to stand up to fatty foods. The Fagus is a
full-bodied, red fruit-driven wine with aromatics of tobacco and
herbaceous spice. “Fagus pairs exceptionally well with charred
pork belly over collard greens with pork ‘caramel’ glaze drizzled
on top. The fat component is well-tempered by the Fagus.”
Somontano DO (Aragon)
The name of the northernmost Aragon DO means “at the
foot of the mountains.” Somontana borders the Pyrenees and
evokes the winemaking prowess of Italy’s Piedmont, and the
area is garnering a reputation to match. The small DO with 32
wineries produces red wine with a depth of fruit and chocolate
spice influenced by red sandstone and clay soils.
Andrew Sinclair, fine wines manager for González Byass
USA, Chicago, has observed sommeliers starting to embrace the
Somontano region. Known more for Tio Pepe sherry, González
Byass was attracted to Vinas del Valero in Somontano for its
sustainably farmed, high-altitude Secastilla vineyards and
winemaking skills. Vinas del Valero has other labels, but the
Secastilla brand has evolved into the flagship wine.
Catalonia: Terra Alta DO (Catalonia)
Catalonia lies east of Aragon province. In the rural
Southern region, the Terra Alta DO is home to several wineries
producing quality red and 80% of Spain’s and a third of the
world’s white garnacha.
Cellers Unió is a large co-op group with four wineries in
five Catalonian appellations, including the highly rated Priorat
DO. The winery experiments with white garnacha production
to yield a softer, creamier style with the Clos Dalian label.
The Clos Dalian pairs well—and is a major ingredient for—
traditional white Catalan risotto served at the picnic area in the
Terra Alta vineyards.