Friday, August 19, 2011

Circles/Seis Circles

"Circles/Seis Circles" is one of the most successful labels in the store this year. It hails from Bodega Aguila in the Carinena region of Spain. Before delving into the wine specifically, let's look at the place.

Carinena is located northeast of center on the Spanish map. It is in the middle of Aragon in the province of Zaragoza on a plateau called "Campo de Carinena". Its locale is east of Calatayud, south of Campo de Borja, and between Rioja and Ribero del Duero. Nice neighborhood. Bodega Aguila is one of sixty bodegas (vineyards) in historic Carinena, which received its DO (denominacion de origen) in 1932, the second overall after Rioja.

Wine grape growing in this region was first documented in the third century BC and by the middle ages one half of the area was planted in vineyards. Carinena, itself is named after the Carignan grape which is believed to have originated there (see June 7th blog) but oddly enough is called Mazuelo in the locale.

Carinena has a continental climate, meaning hot days and cold nights which typically bring out intense flavors in wines. The soil is limestone over loose rock of slate and calcium carbonate with clay in places.

Historically the wines of Carinena have been strong, high alcohol reds but around 1990 coinciding with the construction of a new research center in the area, a decision was made to produce commercially popular wines that would be lighter, fruitier, and well-balanced. Sales of these wines have quadrupled since 1995.

Garnacha grapes now produce 55% of all wine from Carinena and it is made using the carbonic maceration method in which whole berry clusters are sealed in a container with carbon dioxide pumped into it. In this carbon dioxide rich environment the grape skins are permeated stimulating fermentation at an intracellular level. Fermentation in this way, prior to crushing, activates phenolics creating fruity flavor compounds while decreasing malic acid, resulting in a low tannin wine.

Viura (see June 25th blog) is the primary white grape accounting for 20% of the total regional production. Carbonic Maceration is not used in white wine production relying instead on steel barrel fermentation for lightness.

Circles and its sibling, Seis Circles, reflect the style of winemaking just described. They are marketed at two different price points that seem arbitrary to me. The public clearly prefers the higher tier red and the lower tier white. Pick them up for the remainder of the month at $9.99/btl by citing this blog. Pick up Spanish Manchego, Mitibleu, or Drunken Goat to accompany your wine with a 20% discount by mentioning the blog.

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