When Calatayud achieved DO status in 1990, it became Aragon’s second largest quality wine-producing region after Cariñena. Since then, it has been upgrading and perfecting its wines with both cooperative and private bodegas undertaking progressive improvements. There has been considerable investment in new technology, new winemaking systems and vineyard research. Thanks to all of these factors, the Calatayud wines are now beginning to show their true potential.
Many of the new wines are exploring the possibilities of the Garnacha grape, harvested when fully mature. A new category of young red wines called Calatayud Superior is made from Garnacha tinta from vines that are at least fifty years old, with yields of no more than 3,500 kg per hectare.
Calatayud’s continental climate is typical of other Aragonese growing areas although some of the vineyards here are among Spain’s most arid.
Summer temperatures are mild, kept down by the winds which blow through the vineyards at the foot of the Sierra de la Virgen, where there is snow for five to seven months of the year. The significant differences in temperatures during the day and at night, particularly during the ripening period, have a decisive influence on the grapes. These show a remarkable balance between acidity and alcohol, giving rise to wines that are unique in Aragon.
Rainfall varies considerably from 300 - 550 mm, depending on the location of the vineyard. Frosts and high winds, very common in this area, have been known to cause problems in certain years.
The grape varieties authorised in this DO have broadened considerably in the last twenty years. They now include imported varieties alongside the traditional Garnacha Tinta, Mazuela, Viura and Garnacha Blanca. Replanted Tempranillo now occupies 16% of the vineyards and the most innovative growers are also experimenting with Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot.