The story of the red grape Cariñena is a bit of a rollercoaster. It was once favored for the high yields its able to produce, then despised by the lack of fruit characters when not ripen fully, to being praised again for the quality of its wines when made from old vines and its resistance to drought. It is believed to be originally from Aragón in northwest Spain, and it is named in reference to the village of Cariñena. From there it traveled to Sardinia in Italy, Languedoc in France and other areas of the Mediterranean coast, looking for much needed sun and heat to ripen fully, expressing aromas of cranberry, tobacco, and smoked meats.
Cariñena is regarded as an important blending grape, adding deep color, bright acidity, and sharp tannins suitable for long bottle ageing. In Languedoc, where it is known as Carignan, this full body grape is combined with Grenache and Syrah, and in the 1970’s it was the most planted grape in the area. In Rioja, Spain, it is called Mazuelo and it’s part of the traditional combination with Tempranillo and Garnacha.
Only 3% of the vineyards of Rioja are planted with this grape today. Bodegas Arizcuren produces a unique monovarietal wine called Solomazuelo from old family vineyards, bursting with flavors of black fruits, cocoa and balsamic. Due to its structured tannins, this wine while continue developing in the bottle for 10 years or more!
Cariñena is perfect for the holiday season since it marries beautifully
with baked ham and roasted pork. Bring a
bottle of something different to the next family gathering, share, and enjoy!
Author: Maytte Rivera