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Pirineos Somontano Montesierra Macabeo Blanco 2001
The registered vineyard area of the Somontano is small- only 4,200 acres. The soils are well-drained chalk and sand. Glacial runoff provides moisture during summer drought while the Pyrenees provide north winds. Viticultural reorganization is currently in full swing, as plantings are mixed and of advanced age. Increasing investment, both from the government of Aragon and elsewhere, is backing experiments with French grape varieties and increasing plantations of the Tempranillo in an effort to join the elite of Europe's quality wine regions.
Varietal experimentation, however, only serves to cloud Somontano's most alluring story - the existence of and indigenous, high quality red grape called Moristel. It is a natural product of its mountain climate, being loose-bunched, delicate of skin, bright of flavor and low in oxidative enzymes. Although capable of aging, the young wine from this grape is simply delicious, with a velvety and tender texture, vibrant loganberry aroma and most importantly, individuality.
Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.
Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.