BODEGAS ARAGONESAS, DO CAMPO DE BORJA
MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY FAGUS ALONE!
Avid readers (so that’s Claire, my brother and my Aunty Joyce, I guess) may remember my December article ‘The Costa News Top Ten’. This annual article is gaining interest and, dare I say, fame and influence each year. For me it’s very difficult to write as I have to squeeze into just 10 places the best Spanish wines I have tasted for Cork Talk during the year.
You can imagine the difficulty as there are so many wonderful exclusively Spanish wines from which to choose. It end’s up with me having to split the points I award to each wine, by decimal point to reach a final top ten conclusion and even then there are usually two who share a place, 3= for example, as it is just impossible to decide between them.
As is my custom, when the list is finally completed and awaiting publication in all four titles of the Costa News Group, I send it also to those bodegas who have made it into the Top Ten. Whilst I’m not saying that this is the major ‘prize’ that such bodegas receive each year it is nevertheless important recognition to them as it is often the English speaking public, i.e. Costa News readers, who are buying their wines here in Spain.
I often receive letters of acknowledgement and thanks. In the case of Bodegas Aragonesas, DO Campo De Borja, a leading light in the DO that sadly seems to be overshadowed in many consumers’ blinkered minds by the perhaps more illustrious and certainly more famous DOs that surround it (La Rioja, Navarra and Cariñena), I received further samples too!
Our friends John and Mary have long been admirers of Bodegas Aragonesas’ perhaps most famous wine, Fagus de Coto de Hayas. Indeed it is this wine that causes John, a confessed Cabernet Sauvignon aficionado and dedicated fan, to stray away from his favoured variety and appreciate (equally?) the charm of Garnacha – the variety responsible for this super wine (90 points in Vinos de España’s excellent Gold Guide; and 91 points in Peñin).
In November 2009 we went to their house for a top tasting which included Fagus and made me re-consider the placing for that year’s Top Ten. Fagus made it, with 92·5 Costa News Points, in 5th place.
Luis Maza, Commercial Director of Bodegas Aragonesas sent me 4 wines to sample so it was only fair to repay the compliment and invite John and Mary too. Of course hangers-on(!) Hal & Jan, Ron, Jean & Eileen(!) got wind of it and suddenly we had a quorum!
The first wine was the Coto de Hayas Roble 2008 made from a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon and with the benefit of 3 months in new American Oak. Each variety is harvested and fermented separately and subsequently blended together for the oak and ageing. For the purposes of this tasting the wine was the entry level – a considerable step up from many entry levels for sure. Good fruit, some noticeable acidity and tannin which mellowed during the evening and in fact was very laid-back the next day when I enjoyed the wine even more. Decant the wine and it will be instantly ready!
Coto de Hayas 2008 Garnacha Centenaria is the sort of wine that will convert any slave to Cabernet! This wine, as the name implies, is made from Garnacha vines of more than a hundred years of age, vines planted in the 19th Century! The low consequently low yield is harvested by hand and there follows a long maceration where the rich juice takes on colour, tannins, acidity and flavour – bags of it!
Must (juice) from vines of this age should be handled with care – oak ageing is good, but it has to be subtle and not too long. French oak and three months only seems to be perfect as this wine is excellent. On the nose it’s full of rich dark, brambly fruit initially which with some time in the glass develops into a rich well-toasted coffee bean aroma too. In the mouth the richness fills the senses as well as the palate and there is a long finish as well.
Coto de Hayas 2005 Reserva is made from Garnacha too, 40 years old this time and with characteristic dark fruit aromas and flavours. However it’s relative youth allows the winemaker to be a little more generous with the oak. It’s had 15 months in French and American oak plus of course time in bottle maturing in the heart of the bodega until the time for its release onto the market.
The rich, mature fruit handles the oak perfectly and the two combine to give depth of flavour and a lasting finish. There’s the brambly blackberry fruit with some toasted vanilla from the American oak and some leather notes from the French with a slight dark chocolate note as you swallow. Lovely.
Well the above proves that man shall not live by Fagus alone – but if you had to, it drink only Fagus it wouldn’t be a bad option! Fagus de Coto de Hayas 2006 certainly deserves its place in the Costa News Top Ten, and in your cellar.