Although the Valley of Valdizarbe has always been considered one of the best areas of production in Navarra and viticulture there is centuries-old, it almost disappeared due to the depressed prices of grapes and extreme weather conditions. This winery is one of the first to bring the vineyards back to the valley by the hands of an energetic winemaker, Concha Vecino, and an innovative vineyard manager, Jose Manuel Urricelqui.
Learn More About Merlot
Merlot (mehr-LOW) No second fiddle
Merlot is coming back into its own. High popularity led to mass production, which then led to a backlash towards the variety (remember Miles in Sideways?). But passionate Merlot producers, and of course the right bank of Bordeaux, continued to produce quality versions of this grape. Merlot remains the principle grape of top chateaux in St-Émilion
(think Petrus), not to mention its growth in popularity and quality in California and Washington State.
Merlot flourishes both as a single varietal and as a blending agent. It's known
for adding softness to the austere Cabernet
Sauvignon in Bordeaux blends in France, California and elsewhere. Chateau
Petrus, perhaps one of the most expensive and sought-after wines of the world,
is almost 100% Merlot. The grape exudes soft fruit flavors of plum and blackberry,
but it's versatile - the style can change depending on the climate and soil.
Merlot from mountain areas are usually more Cabernet like, with stronger structure
and tannins, while Merlot from valley floor areas and clay-based soils are opulent, with velvelty texture, often approachable when young.
Summing it up
Successful Sites: Bordeaux, California, Washington State, Chile
plum, cherry, blackberry, spice, raspberry
Learn More About Spain
The third largest country in production, Spain ranks first in land under vine. Diversity and innovation are the key factors bringing Spain back into the world wine market.
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monestrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 55 Dos scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
Other regions of Spain include:
Home of most of the Airen grapes planted as well as Don Quioxte, La Mancha is a vast desert-like area of flat land and penetrating sun.
The Sherry region is located near Spain’s southernmost point along the coast. Sherry produces white varietals used to make the fortified wines from which it received its namesake such as Palomino, Palomino Fino, Palomino de Jerez, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel.
The Penedés wine region is located in the province of Barcelona, along the eastern coast of Spain. The Penedés wine region consists of 185 vineyards. Penedes is home to Spain’s sparkling wine, Cava, and also produces Garnacha, Merlot, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Monastrell, Carignane, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (reds), as well as Macabeo (Viura), Parellada, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Moscatel de Alejandria.
Located in southeastern Spain, Yecla is situated in the province of Murica. Neighboring the Jumilla region, Yecla is one of Spain’s smallest wine regions. Common red varietals include Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cencibel, Merlot, Tintorera and Syrah. White varietals include Merseguera, Airen, Macabeo, Malvasia and Chardonnay.