John Poplin on April 20, 2016 0 Comments In today’s wine world, there are a lot of buzz words that consumers hear that sends them to specific sections of a retail store or leads their eyes towards certain wines on a restaurant’s list, “organic” being one of them. Though the Old World wine growing regions have been utilizing some of these practices that the U.S. has seemingly just adopted, being “certified organic” is relatively new to them, and to keep up with the demand, they are complying. The Region Roughly three and a half hours west-northwest of Barcelona, Spain sits the ancient town of Borja, where vineyards are planted in the shadows of an ancient stone castle. The Campo de Borja region (officially recognized in 1980) is believed to have been planted by ancient Romans, but the first written reference to the region was in 1203 A.D., in the archives of a local monastery. Though the region does recognize its oldest vineyards as being planted in 1145 A.D. The soils are comprised of average sized brick red limestone rocks that allow for good drainage and are rich in nutrients. The dominant geological feature of this region is a mountain by the name of Moncayo, which combined with the low average annual precipitation and a climate greatly influenced by the Mediterranean creates a unique microclimate for the region, giving its wines specific characteristics. The Producer Founded in 1984, Bodegas Aragonesas today encompasses 9,200 acres (or 3,700 hectares) of vineyards in the Campo de Borja region. The vineyards are planted with Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mazuela, Chardonnay, Macabeo and Muscat; which allows Bodegas Aragonesas to produce a wide variety of wines, under multiple labels. In fact, unknowingly, I’ve had a number of wines from this one producer. With some of their vines over a hundred years old, the wines range from the young and approachable to more complex single vineyards wines, with the focus being on the Garnacha grape (also known as Grenache, Cannonau, or Alicante in other wine growing regions). Certified Organic Before I dive into the wine, I’ll address this certification. For this particular wine it has been certified organic by the CAAE (Comite Andaluz de Agricultura Ecologica), a Spanish non-profit organization that is developing organic farming practices for the protection of the environment and rural development, not just in Spain but in farming regions around the globe. And while, yes, it is great that attention is being directed towards sustainability, as I mentioned, a lot of producers have been following these practices for generations. Some growers have simply avoided the official certification in case something goes wrong in a particular vintage, forcing them from being able to sell their wines for a certain number of years. The 2012 Bodegas Aragonesas Aragus I was first attracted to the Bodegas Aragonesas Aragus bottle by its bright colors and fleur-de-lis-esque scrolling vine, and then the words “made with organic grapes” right on the front label. While some wines from Spain do keep to more traditional labels, I have noticed more and more eye catching labels with bright colors and unique designs. I realize this really has nothing to do with the wine itself, but kudos to the marketing teams who develop the labels. But these labels are also reflective of the culture and arts of the region. The wine is 100% Old Vine Garnacha (though the label says Red Wine) and comes from vineyards at 500 meters (roughly 1,640 feet) in elevation. This is in the upper altitudes of the Campo de Borja growing region, where wines are known to be more subtle and elegant. The grapes go through a fourteen day maceration period, that, once the desired characteristics of the juice are obtained, is drained off and the remaining grape musts pressed. The color of this wine is bright and an intense dark-Cherry red, with moderate legs streaming down the glass. With 14% alcohol by volume the nose does signify its higher alcohol, but concentrated aromas of blackberry, plum, black cherry and super ripe raspberries prevail. As I continued to swirl the wine and open it up, the minerality made its debut and notes of black pepper, orange zest and dried tea leaves came through. On the palate, the wine had supple tannins and a silky medium body. The fruit nuances of the wine continued to show through, but the terroir of the wine lurked in the back with a touch more spice and some dried herbs. Though with its relatively fruit forward style (making it a good daily sipper), I can easily see this wine being paired with grilled chicken, roasted duck, lighter beef entrees, and of course a nice selection of cheeses and charcuterie. Though I haven’t seen any press from the big American reviewers, I did see some medals the wine received in Germany and a couple of 90 point ratings from a regional Spanish periodical. For the price I paid (under $15), it’s definitely a good value wine, and certainly something worth returning to in the future.