With its harsh landscape, Calatayud would appear inhospitable to grapevines. But this hidden gem is considered one of the world’s ideal regions for growing garnacha grapes.
These grapes groomed in Calatayud were crafted into our wine-of-the-week winner — Las Rocas, 2014 Garnacha, Spain at $14.
This is a tasty wine that over-delivers. It has generous blackberry and dark cherry fruit, with notes of herbs and black pepper spice. It’s balanced and has nice length.
“Nowhere is garnacha more at home than on the rocky slopes of Calatayud, Spain,” said wine manager Yolanda Diaz. “Las Rocas translates to ‘the rocks,’ and it is our way to pay homage to the complex, unique region where the wine is grown.”
Calatayud is a viticulture region in the northeastern interior of Spain. The roots of the vines struggle to find their way through the limestone rocks and hard soils, yet still produce rich, robust wines that express the character, Diaz explained.
A quest to travel the world is what made Diaz a perfect fit for a wine manager.
“Early on in my career, I discovered my deep passion for international business and a desire to learn about cultures from around the world,” she said. “As a native of Calatayud, working with Bodegas San Alejandro has allowed me to continue learning about far away regions…”
As managing director, Diaz is a part of all aspects of the business, from sales and marketing to winegrowing and winemaking.
After joining Bodegas San Alejandro, Diaz, in her 40s, earned her MBA with specializations in wine marketing and horticulture from Columbus University, while working at the winery.
Producing garnacha can be tricky when the weather fluctuates, Diaz said.
“If we happen to experience colder than usual temperatures, the growing season can become more difficult,” she said. “But our community of winegrowers and winemakers are more than equipped to manage and maintain the unique growing conditions of this region.”
As the vines struggle to survive, they concentrate their energy into fewer berry clusters, yielding garnacha grapes with rich, robust flavors. The porous rocks retain rainwater and heat, delivering enough water to the vines while protecting them from harsh winter conditions. The rocks here give Las Rocas garnacha its signature spiciness and minerality.
“I love being able to share the story of Las Rocas wines and Calatayud with the rest of the world,” Diaz said.