Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Drunk on Geology - Las Rocas

The next up in our Drunk on Geology series is Las Rocas wines (specifically Garnacha in this post) by the Las Rocas Winery

 Las Rocas literally translates to "The Rocks" in spanish. So it is a fitting inclusion to the Drunk on Geology series.

 The source of the name is described on the website:
"The wines of Las Rocas come from the rocky, sunlit slopes of Spain's dynamic Calatayud growing region. Nestled in the Zaragoza province of Aragon, Calatayud is comprised of a network of tributaries and valleys, each with its own unique mesoclimate.
The mountains of Calatayud soar to 3,500 feet, with nearly 20 different soil types dotting the slopes, from chalk and limestone to clay and marl. As the elevation rises, the terrain transforms into shattered rock and slate. With its harsh landscape and extreme weather conditions - dry, hot summers and cold, snowy winters - Calatayud, at first glance, would appear inhospitable to grapevines. But, this hidden gem is heralded as one of the world's ideal regions for growing Garnacha grapes.
Rocky, nutrient-poor soils are the key to Calatayud's phenomenal terroir. 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."

 From the bottle:
"Las Rocas wines hail from the steep, rocky vineyards of Calatayud, Spain. Our Garnacha offers a taste as uniquely intriguing as its origin, with exotic dark cherry and blackberry flavors. This wine is well-structures with round tannins and subtle hints of oak."
 The rocks in the area of the winery are mostly evaporative (mainly gypsum) rocks deposited within an intermontane basin. Here is a good summary of the geology of the region:
"Calatayud is situated in the central sector of Calatayud Graben, a major Neogene intermontane basin in the Iberian Range, developed during the post-orogenic stage of the Alpine Orogen. The basin fill is mainly subhorizontal, Miocene to Lower Pliocene, continental sedimentary rocks grading from alluvial deposits at the margins to lacustrine and palustrine evaporites and carbonates in the centre. In the environs of Calatayud city, located close to the depositional centre of the basin, the Neogene sedimentary rocks form an evaporite sequence around 500 m thick called the Calatayud Gypsum."  (Gutiérrez and Cooper, 2002)

And of course, my glory shot of the wine bottle.

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