Featured Winery: Bodega San Gregorio (Calatayud)

Cooperativa del Campo San Gregorio is located in the D.O. Calatayud in the region of Aragon (approximately two and a half hours northwest of Madrid). Calatayud covers almost 14,000 acres and consists of 15 bodegas producing a staggering 14 million liters of wine annually. Receiving D.O. status in 1990, Calatayud is Aragon's second-largest quality wine-producing region (behind Cariñena). The vineyards slope down on the south side of the Sierra de la Virgen at altitudes ranging from 1800-2800 feet while the area experiences a continental climate. The primary red varietals are Garnacha tinta, Mazuela, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah with the principal white varietals ) Macabeo, Malvasía, Chardonnay. Bodega San Gregorio is a cooperative established in 1965 and now boasts 160 members with an eye for producing wines for an international market (lucky for us). The bodega sits in the Ribota River Valley, approximately nine miles from the city of Calatayud. The co-op  tends to about 2000 acres of vine with the predominant varietal Garnacha (62%). Tempranillo (22%), Macabeo (7%), and a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot (9%) rounding out the lot. Most vines in the area are at least 40 years old with many sporting more than 50. The vines are not irrigated (relying much on Mother Nature to do her best work) which provides for lower, higher quality yields. My experience with two of the bodegas wines (Tres Ojos Rosado and Old Vines Garnacha) were just that - excellent quality. Incidentally, the name Tres Ojos (translated "Three Eyes") originates from a local bridge in the city of Calatayud with three arches.

2009 Tres Ojos Rosado

This 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo instantly wafts aromas of strawberries and raspberries. On the palate juicy red fruits and plum carry through on the smooth, dry, and crisp finish. Medium acidity allows you the pleasure of enjoying it just a few moments longer. An extremely pleasant rosado, this wine is versatile enough to drink alone or serve with a salad. I (thoroughly) enjoyed it with butifarra (Catalan white sausage) with mushrooms, gazpacho, and gambas ajillo. This wine is a tremendous value at between $8-10. (8.0/10.0)

2008 Tres Ojos Old Vines Garnacha Tinto

This 100% Old Vines Garnacha is sourced from 40- to 50-year-old vines. Fermenting for seven days followed by a 14-day maceration on the skins, it is aged 12 months in stainless steel vats. In the glass this wine is dark red with aromas of bitter cherries, raspberries, and mulled spice. In the mouth, bitter cherries again appear with juicy blackberries and a nice amount of cracked pepper. Tangy and tannic this wine finishes with a medium acidity and begs for another taste. Another great value at $8-10. (8.0/10.0) The wines of Bodega San Gregorio (at least the Tres Ojos label) are worth seeking out. They represent what Spanish wine is all about - quality wines at value prices. If you happen to come across it, they also produce a white wine - 2009 Tres Ojos Blanco - made from 100% Macabeo. Enjoy! Life is short. Drink Spanish wine!