Las Rocas: A Wine like No Other, From a Place like No Other

la roca BOTTLE_LAR_GarnachaCalatayud_750_09Deep in the interior of Aragon, Spain, lies a place few have heard of: Calatayud. Here, the air is dry, the terrain is unforgiving, and shattered rock stretches as far as the eye can see. It would seem that nothing could grow here.

Yet somehow, Garnacha vines thrive on the arid, rocky slopes of Calatayud , creating some of the world’s most sought-after wines. Spain is one of the few places on Earth where vintners bottle pure Garnacha – or Grenache, as it is called outside of Spain – and Calatayud is home to some of the country’s highest Garnacha vineyards.

Rooted deep in rocky, limestone soils at elevations of up to 3,500 feet, these vines see intense sunlight, prompting thicker skins and, ultimately, grapes with richer flavors. Cool evening temperatures mean fruit with greater acidity, giving Las Rocas wines a unique elegance and structure.

Many of Calatayud’s Garnacha vines are nearly a century old, producing rich, robust wines. With flavors and tannins reminiscent of a Cabernet Sauvignon, matched by a structure similar to Pinot Noir, Las Rocas Garnacha has a distinct palate of red fruit, black pepper and earthy notes.

“Las Rocas wines are unique in every sense of the word,” says Yolanda Diaz, managing director of Bodegas San Alejandro, a co-operative of 350 local farmers who grow the grapes for Las Rocas wines. “The rocky slopes create vines that can only be found in Calatayud. The precise combination of climate, soil and elevation here makes our Garnacha unlike any other wine, anywhere else in the world.”

Founded in 1962, Bodegas San Alejandro is located in Miedes, a town of 530 inhabitants about 55 miles north of Madrid, in the valley of the Ebro River. The dynamic winegrowers and winemakers of Bodegas San Alejandro bring the distinct characteristics of Calatayud and the unique flavors of Garnacha into every bottle of Las Rocas. The collection includes a Garnacha made from 30- to 50-year old vines, a Viñas Viejas Garnacha made from vines that are 60 to nearly 100 years old, and a Spanish Red Blend that brings Garnacha together with Tempranillo and Syrah.


Las Rocas® 2009 Garnacha  (Pictured Above)

SRP: $14

Las Rocas wines hail from Calatayud, in the southeastern corner of Spain’s Aragon region, where the air is dry and the terrain is unforgiving. Against all odds, Garnacha vines thrive on the steep, rocky slopes here, creating some of the world’s most sought-after wines. The Bodegas San Alejandro growers’ cooperative cultivates grapes from hundreds of small vineyards in Calatayud – many with vines more than 80 years old – to create the rich, robust flavors of Las Rocas.
About the Wine:

The vibrant red color of our 2009 Garnacha hints at its rich dark cherry and blackberry aromas and flavors. This well-structured wine integrates nuances of oak with round tannins to deliver a rich palate of decadent fruit flavors.

Viticulture Notes:
Las Rocas wines come from the steep, rocky vineyards in Calatayud that rest at elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. The vines for our Garnacha are 30 to 50 years old, with loose, rocky limestone soils. The 2009 vintage brought exceptionally dry and hot conditions to the Calatayud region, resulting in a slightly higher alcohol level in the finished wine. Despite the warm weather, careful guidance in the vineyard yielded exceptional grapes with rich flavor characteristics.

Winemaking Notes:
Following harvest at the end of October, the Garnacha grapes were cold soaked for several days to extract the deep, intense flavors of the fruit. During fermentation, which occurred at temperatures between 75°F and 82°F, the juice remained in contact with the skins for 15 days. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation, which softened the mouthfeel and added depth and nuance to the Garnacha. A portion of the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for nearly one year.
Varietal Content: Garnacha
Varietal Origin: Calatayud DO, Spain
Titratable Acidity: 0.57g/100ml
pH: 3.63
Alcohol Level: 15.20%
Residual Sugar: 0.1 g/100ml
Residual Sugar: 0.1 g/100ml

We liked the dark fruit colors, depth and food friendliness of this Garnacha wine. The red blend was more fruity and terrific for a picnic or easy going dinner (perfect for coq au vin) . The king (and what value for $20  . . . well worth double the price . . . ) was the Vinas Viejas. Bursting with cranberry and dark cherries, the tannins were subtle, but indicate good aging potential. Go with cheese, game, dark fish or Brazil nuts.

Spanish wines rule.

Copyright 2012 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure

La Roca 1 BOTTLE_LAR_Garnacha_750_09
Las Rocas® 2009 Garnacha Viñas Viejas

SRP: $20
Las Rocas wines hail from Calatayud, in the southeastern corner of Spain’s Aragon region, where the air is dry and the terrain is unforgiving. Against all odds, Garnacha vines thrive on the steep, rocky slopes here, creating some of the world’s most sought-after wines. The Bodegas San Alejandro growers’ cooperative cultivates grapes from hundreds of small vineyards in Calatayud – many with vines more than 80 years old – to create the rich, robust flavors of Las Rocas.
About the Wine:
Our 2009 Garnacha Viñas Viejas exhibits a deep ruby color, with a spicy, rich cranberry bouquet. This well-structured wine has dark cherry flavors and elegant hints of oak, with round, supple tannins and a fruit-filled finish.
Viticulture Notes:
Las Rocas wines come from the steep, rocky vineyards in Calatayud that rest at elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. The vines for our Garnacha Viñas Viejas are 60 to nearly 100 years old, with soils comprised of chalk and black slate, which encourage small clusters of intensely flavored grapes. The 2009 vintage brought exceptionally dry and hot conditions to the Calatayud region, resulting in a slightly higher alcohol level in the finished wine. Despite the warm weather, careful guidance in the vineyard yielded exceptional grapes with rich flavor characteristics.
Winemaking Notes:
Following harvest at the end of October, the Garnacha grapes were cold soaked for two weeks to extract the deep, intense flavors of the old-vine fruit. Fermentation occurred for 10 days at temperatures ranging from 75°F to 80°F. The wine then underwent malolactic fermentation, which softened the mouthfeel and added depth and nuance to the Garnacha. A portion of the wine was aged in mainly French oak and some American oak barrels for 10 months following fermentation.
Varietal Content: Garnacha
Varietal Origin: Calatayud DO, Spain
Titratable Acidity: 0.54 g/100mL
pH: 3.56
Alcohol Level: 15.2%
Residual Sugar: 0.26 g/100mL


la roca BOTTLE _LAR_RedSpanishBlend_750_09.
Las Rocas® 2009 Red Blend

SRP: $14
Las Rocas wines hail from Calatayud, in the southeastern corner of Spain’s Aragon region, where the air is dry and the terrain is unforgiving. Against all odds, Garnacha vines thrive on the steep, rocky slopes here, creating some of the world’s most sought-after wines. The Bodegas San Alejandro growers’ cooperative cultivates grapes from hundreds of small vineyards in Calatayud – many with vines more than 80 years old – to create the rich, robust flavors of Las Rocas.
About the Wine:
The bright red color of our 2009 Red Blend leads to ripe, jammy aromas and nuances of oak. These aromas extend to the palate, creating a bright, medium-bodied wine with a round, smooth finish.
Viticulture Notes:
Las Rocas wines come from the steep, rocky vineyards in Calatayud that rest at elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. A majority of the grapes for this blend were selected from our 30 to 50-year-old Garnacha vines that are grown in loose, rocky limestone soils. The 2009 vintage brought exceptionally dry and hot conditions to the Calatayud region, resulting in a slightly higher alcohol level in the finished wine. Despite the warm weather, careful guidance in the vineyard yielded exceptional Garnacha grapes with rich flavor characteristics.
Winemaking Notes:
Following harvest at the end of October, the grapes were cold soaked for several days to extract the deep, intense flavors of the old-vine fruit. During fermentation, which occurred at temperatures between 75°F and 82°F, the juice remained in contact with the skins for 15 days. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation, which softened the mouthfeel and added depth and nuance to the Garnacha. A portion of the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for nearly one year.
Varietal Content: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah
Varietal Origin: Calatayud DO, Spain
Titratable Acidity: 0.57g/100ml
pH: 3.63
Alcohol Level: 15.20%
Residual Sugar: 0.1 g/100ml


Yolanda Diaz: A View of the World from Calatayud

Yolanda Diaz entered the world of wine somewhat by accident. A native of Calatayud, Spain, Yolanda traveled the globe for her studies and returned home in 1997 with plans to pursue her MBA. Meanwhile, Bodegas San Alejandro – a Calatayud-based growers’ cooperative – tapped Yolanda for her international business savvy to spearhead its burgeoning wine export business. What was intended to be a brief stint before graduate school quickly turned into a life-changing career move – one that has placed Yolanda in the prestigious post of managing director at Bodegas San Alejandro.

“I didn’t know much about wine when I joined Bodegas San Alejandro,” admits Yolanda, “but it wasn’t long before it became my greatest passion. I can’t imagine working in any other industry.”

While earning her bachelor’s degree in business from Columbus University in Zaragoza, Spain, Yolanda gained a global perspective through semesters abroad at Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Paris and Hogeschool Zeeland in Holland. She interned at the World Trade Center in Irvine, CA, and spent time studying finance and marketing at Catholic University in Washington, DC.

A native Spanish speaker, Yolanda has mastered English, German and French, making her the ideal candidate to represent Las Rocas wines in the global marketplace. After joining Bodegas San Alejandro, Yolanda remained committed to her education, earning her MBA with specializations in wine marketing and horticulture from Columbus University, while ascending the ranks of the winery.

Today, as managing director of Bodegas San Alejandro, Yolanda touches every aspect of the business, from winegrowing and winemaking to sales and marketing. She travels extensively to bring the wines of Las Rocas to new markets. And, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Traveling has exposed me to so many cultures and so many different types of wine and food,” explains Yolanda. “I am able to bring these rich experiences back to the winery and, in turn, I get to share the unique story of Calatayud and Las Rocas wines with the rest of the world.”

It seems it was no accident that Bodegas San Alejandro found Yolanda Diaz. She is right at home in the world of wine.


Garnacha: At Home in Calatayud

Garnacha, called Grenache in the U.S. and France, is one of the world’s most widely planted red grapes. But nowhere is it more at home than on the rocky slopes of Calatayud, Spain. Here, Garnacha has ascended to extraordinary heights, giving the acclaimed wines of Las Rocas their rich, robust flavors.

Some believe that Garnacha found its way to Spain from its original home in Sardinia, when the kingdom of Aragon ruled that island during the 14th and 15th centuries. Other research supports the notion that Garnacha’s ancient origins lie in the same region of Spanish Aragon where the wines of Las Rocas are made today. The enticing flavors in Las Rocas Garnacha offer a compelling case for the latter theory.

Easy to grow and easy to ferment, Garnacha is also easy on the palate. In the glass, it tends to be low in acid and tannin, with a soft mouthfeel and pronounced flavors of berry and spice.   In the vineyard, Garnacha takes its time to ripen, and it flourishes in sunlight and warm weather, making it perfectly suited for the long, hot summer growing season of Calatayud. The old vines of the region, ranging from 30 to 100 years old, curtail the natural vigor of the Garnacha vine, yielding fewer grape clusters. The result is a wine with a richer concentration of color and flavor.

Garnacha is typically used as a blending grape across the globe, but it is the centerpiece of Las Rocas wines. The rocky terroir of Calatayud grants Las Rocas’ Garnacha its signature palate of spice and minerality.

Tucked in the southwest corner of the Spanish province of Zaragoza, the dynamic Calatayud winegrowing region was awarded Denominación de Origen status in 1989. Here, in the Ebro River Valley, a network of tributaries creates a series of smaller valleys, each with its own unique mesoclimate.

The Calatayud DO includes 14,000 acres of vineyard in 46 small towns along the river valleys. Most of the vines rest at altitudes of 2,500 to 3,500 feet above sea level, on diverse soils ranging from chalk and limestone, to clay and marl.

We can trace the region’s name back to the Moorish occupation of Spain, when the local governor, Ayud, had a fortress called a Qalat, where the town of Calatayud now stands. Wine has been made here for 2,000 years.

The region enjoys a continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters. While summer temperatures occasionally soar to 100°F and the winter months pose a frost risk, the vines generally enjoy a temperate climate year-round. Most of the vineyards have loose, rocky limestone soils with low nutrient levels and high lime content. With an average annual rainfall between 12 and 20 inches. The vines in this region have to work their way deep into the fractured soils to find the water and nutrients they need.

Calatayud is famous for its red wines, which represent 85% of yearly wine production in the region. Out of the 11 wine grape varieties approved for the DO, Garnacha is by far the most widely planted.

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