It’s almost time for Wine Club again! Thank you to everyone that made the 2 year anniversary of the Wine Club such a success over the past month.
For this month, we’ve chosen a grape very special to Grand Cata: carineña, better known by its French name, carignan.
Cariñena originates from northern Spain. As many of you know from March’s selection, we looove Priorat wines, which generally have a significant proportion of cariñena in their blends. What you may not know, however, is why you find the grape as far east as Italy, and in such abundance in Mediterranean France.
Over the course of nearly 400 years, an empire under the Crown of Aragón grew from a small Frankish feudal county at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains to encompass much of Mediterranean France, many of the islands between northern Spain and Italy (including Sicily), and the southern half of Italy itself at its height in the 1450s. And while they did this conquering, they brought with them their favorite grapes, including cariñena, which they planted everywhere!
(If you like to get a clearer picture of this piece of history, here’s a nice reference. Be sure to also read the comments to get a sense of the whole story, as the ramifications and ripples of this conquest still reverberate today.)
What types of wine does cariñena generally make? It varies quite a bit, but the grape has naturally high acidity and naturally high tannins, but moderate sugar levels. This leads to bold wines with excellent structure and depth that also don’t weigh too heavily on your palate. Tell-tale signs of cariñena include a distinct smokey aroma and flavor that can range from barbecue to cigar, a fruit profile that’s best described as “wild,” a very often a touch of kalamata olive
Sota els Angeles, Flow White Blanc de Noir Carignan 2015 - Catalonia, Spain
This wine's extremely aromatic with tones of flowers, oranges, melon, peaches and pinneapple. On the palate, you’ll find a fascinating flavor of pomegranate, which you generally don’t find in white wines. Well balanced between acid, alcohol, and a slightly salty finish, this wine pairs well with richer seafood dishes such as pan-fried flounder.
And yes, this is a white wine, made by fermenting the free-run juice after light pressing. There is no skin contact at all during this process, with is how you end up with a "blanc de noir," or "a white wine from black grapes."
Terra Noble Gran Reserva Carignan 2012 - Maule Valley, Chile
An absolutely spot on, classic rendition of the grape, with a dusty tannin profile, electric acidity, smoky aromas and wild berries for the fruit profile. Enjoy with a hearty dish able to stand up to the tannin, such as lamb.
As always, thank you for supporting Grand Cata and our Wine Club. We can’t wait to hear your feedback about this month’s selections! See you the 24th!