Saturday, May 9, 2020

Bodega San Valero Delivers Cariñena Wine Goodness To The World

Located in the Aragón region of Spain, Bodegas San Valero is both a historic winery and a pioneering wine group that includes 500 winegrowers.

Celebrities Garnacha with Patatas Bravas75 Harvests

In 1944 a group of 60 winegrowers in Cariñena, who mainly produced bulk wine, founded Cooperativa Vinícola San Valero. Seventy-five harvests later, that number has grown to 500 members who are focused on technology and vineyard management to produce quality wines.

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Cooperatives allow grape growers to band together to share production facilities and market their wines more efficiently. Under the banner of Bodega San Valero, Cooperativa Vinícola San Valero has been exporting its wine for 25 years reaching more than 30 countries.

Bodega San Valero and its partners cultivate more than 8,500 acres on a high plateau in the Cariñena wine region. The vineyards are planted at 2,600-foot altitude with a significant diurnal temperature swing and cool, dry Cierzo winds from the north. The conditions, along with mostly stony soil, result in wines with fresh minerality, structure and deep expression.

During our recent #winestudio education program we were able to experience the breadth and quality of the Bodega San Valero wines. Our culinary team created outstanding dishes to pair with these Spanish beauties.

Gran Ducay Rosé with Lump Crab CakeCava In Cariñena?

We flagged Cariñena as an up and coming region in a recent story. We love Spanish wines and bottles from Cariñena display variety and an ever-improving quality. What caught me off-guard was learning that Cava is produced in the region.

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During my visit to Spain, I toured wineries in Penedès – the home of Spain’s famous sparkling Cava. Ninety-five percent of Spanish Cava originates in Catalonia – but it is produced in Cariñena as well. Bodegas San Valero has several labels, including Grand Ducay, which is its Cava brand.

We sampled the Grand Ducay Brut Nature Blanco and Rosado. Both are made in the traditional method with fermentation in the bottle. The Blanco is made with Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo, traditional Cava grapes. The Rosado, a beautiful rosé sparkler, is made with Garnacha (Grenache).

Paired with Maryland-style lump crab cake, tri-color potatoes and roasted broccoli and cauliflower, both wines were delicious. At a price tag of $11 SRP, these are affordable enough to make any day special with bubbles.

Celebrities - Garnacha and CariñenaDon’t Forget The Garnacha

One of the hallmarks of the wine revolution in Cariñena is the diversity of grapes and wines produced. You best not forget the reputation of the region was built on Garnacha and its namesake grape, though.

We uncorked wines from three different vintages: The Celebrities 2019 Garnacha, Celebrities 2016 Old Vines Garnacha and the 2017 Cariñena. Our culinary team whipped up gazpacho, rosemary grilled lamb chops and vegan Patatas Bravas.

The 2019 Garnacha is smooth and accessible, while the Cariñena is a spicy and engaging wine. Formerly a workhorse grape added to blends, the Celebrities single varietal Cariñena shows it can shine on its own. My favorite was the Old Vines Garnacha – the extra aging and select vines make this refined and elegant. All three of these bottles retail for $15, an amazing value.

International Varieties Emerge

Our Cariñena education continued as we uncorked a quartet of bottles featuring international varieties. Featured wines were the 2018 vintages of the Celebrities Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. We capped our tasting adventure with 500 Manos, a special Bordeaux-style blend. Affordability is the byword in Cariñena, with the Celebrities Merlot, Syrah and Cab just $15 and 500 Manos $5 more.

Culinary team was wowed by Celebrities SyrahFor the Celebrities wines we dined on Estofado de Carne con Verduras, Spanish beef stew with vegetables. We also enjoyed Papas Aliñás, Andalusian-style potatoes popular as tapas. The 2018 Celebrities Merlot has warm notes of red berries, cherry and cedar with noticeable tannins. Certainly a step up in complexity from a simple Merlot. The Cabernet has a black fruit profile with blueberry, cassis and blackberry. There are loose tannins and a smooth texture.

The culinary team (and I) picked the Syrah as the favorite of this trio. It has bold flavors of plum and raisin with some spice on the back end.

The 500 Manos is a special bottle. Its label has a close-up photo of a hand (“manos” is hands in Spanish) clenching some soil. The 500 hands represent members of the cooperative.

It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. This is a limited production of 98,000 bottles and Bottle #56 sure tasted fine. It has an initial rush of ripe berries and rhubarb followed by dusty earth notes and beautiful tannins. An expressive and refined wine – it is usually shared just with the Bodegas San Valero partners.

Not only did we enjoy a tour of Cariñena wine – but grand epicurean tastings as well. Our meal for the 500 Manos was NY Strip Steak served with Thai Green Chile Pesto, lemon-parsley potatoes and grilled corn with lime compound butter. The wine and meal were spectacular.

The wines of Bodega San Valero pulse with the flavors of adventure and life. They are fun, affordable and eminently food-friendly. Explore these tasteful Spanish wines and unlock a new experience.

500 Manos - Bodega San Valero

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