This week we discuss one of my favorite recent travel discoveries and the wine that introduced me to the area. That wine is one of the great bargains currently available, though some retailers don’t yet know of it. Being undiscovered is one reason why it’s still a bargain. I almost hate to tell everyone about it.
Earlier this month lot of eWine Samplers—dozens, actually, including official eWine staff members—expressed surprise at how a wine this good could sell at this price.
Taste something good this week!
I’ve had several questions about the parts of Spain that I’ve been visiting recently, and one of my favorites is Calatayud. It’s the name of the town and the surrounding wine region.
As with a lot of my favorite places, it’s off the tourist track, at least for Americans and, as is often the case, that means great, authentic regional cuisine and great wine bargains.
Two weeks ago I was standing in a vineyard that was over a century old. They said I was the eighth American to ever see it. I hope I can find it again, as I’m taking a small group to this area next September.
The area’s best red wines are made from old, bushvine grenache vineyards, many of which have been in the same family for years, passed down from generation to generation. They sit in the arid foothills below the peak of Virgen de la Sierra, about an hour west of Zaragoza (Aragon Province), in the direction of Madrid. Yields from these stubby, gnarled, dry-farmed vines are often as low as one-half ton per acre. Six times that yield is considered low in California!
There is a wine available in our area from Calatayud’s old bushvine grenache vineyards. When we tasted it at this month’s eWine Samplings, it amazed many in attendance that such a rich, flavorful, well-made wine could be sold for such a great price. That’s one reason I first visited Calatayud.
2005 Cruz de Piedra, named for the stone crosses that still mark the pathways of those whose pilgrimage takes them through these scenic mountains. Made at the local grape growers cooperative (Bodega Virgen de la Sierra), whose gleaming stainless steel equipment yields wines of consistent quality and value. The vineyards used in this bottling average over 50 years of age, and yield juice that is deep in color, rich in red-berry flavors, with a finish that is lingering and smooth. At about $10 a bottle it’s one of the best bargains I know.