Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bodegas Paniza

Bodegas Paniza is a cooperative venture of three hundred grape growers in northeast/central Spain made possible by new world capital investment in proven European terroir.  Here's the story...

 In 1932 the Spanish government granted the wine production area, Carinena, one of its first DO's (Denominacion de Origen) or guarantee of production quality in line with historical standards. Ancient history tells us that the Roman Empire founded the city of Carae halfway between Barcelona and Madrid in the province of Zaragoza in 50 BC.  The region had concentrated on mead production since at least the third century BC but by the Middle Ages Roman Catholic monks had done what they always do and wine grape viticulture became the norm.  By the 16th century half of all arable land in Carinena was in vines.

Carinena has a number of advantages that lend itself to grape production.  The central Aragon region is actually home to Campo de Borja and Calatayud along with Carinena with all three grape venues lying in the high elevation Ebro River valley.  This venue provides rocky clay and slate soils and strong winds to keep pests off the vines.  Its continental climate of hot summers and cold winters along with the always desirable diurnal effect of hot days and cold nights completes the picture for optimal vineyard production. Terroir like this creates intense flavors in wine grapes.

Carinena is the home of the Carignan grape, known locally as Mazuelo.  Traditionally Spaniards enjoy Carignan as a strong and robust, high alcohol red and that is still the kind of wine enjoyed by the locals.  Today however, Carignan is one of the most widely planted, prolific red grapes worldwide and it fills a much needed slot in red blends everywhere.  Knowing that, along with the quality of Grenache and Tempranillo grown there, the new world capital investment mentioned above  makes a lot of sense.

By 1990 a more mature wine appreciation had taken hold in America and the popular palate appreciated fresher and lighter, more balanced and elegant red wines.  Spain couldn't have been a better fit for the needs of American consumers if modern wine making and mass production could be adapted to old world ways.  Bodegas Paniza demonstrates just how successful such a merger can be.

Using grapes from vines up to a hundred years old, the co-op night harvests its grapes, cold stabilizes its juice, and then uses malolactic fermentation and either stainless steel or French/American oak barrel aging to create the modern international wine styles of today.  Fifteen million kilos of grapes are grown annually with at least fifteen million liters of wine being cellared on-site at any given time.  The modern Paniza winery produces thirteen million bottles of wine a year in a bottling line that generates 8,000 per hour.  Ninety-five percent of the production of Bodegas Paniza is exported to forty different countries.

The 2013 Garnacha Vinas Viejas de Sinello is our $10 Paniza example stacked currently in the store.  Stop in today to learn just how good everyday wine can be.

Tommy Basham joins us here this afternoon, Thursday the 29th 5:30-6:30, with a tasting of Lincourt Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Chardonnay along with Uppercut Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Baron Fini Trentino Merlot.  We ask for ten dollars to taste which is applicable to a six bottle purchase of Tommy's wines.

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