BODEGAS SAN VALERO
Our partner in Cariñena is Bodegas San Valero, which was created in 1945 by 60 grape growers as a winemaking cooperative. Today it has grown to include around 700 growers who cultivate a total of 4000 hectares of vineyard.
The company has a technical team which includes viticultural and winemaking experts who closely monitor the growth of the vines, from the pruning season to the maturation of the grape, thus determining the optimum time for the grape harvest and the final destination of each parcel of grapes once they are picked.
The bodega’s winemaking facility was modernised starting in 1999, with a five-year investment plan totalling 8 million Euros (US$10m). As a result, the bodega now has a state-of-the-art winery with 12,000 small oak barrels and an annual production of 1.5 million cases. The two bottling lines each have a capacity of 12,000 bottles per hour and there is also a bag-in-box line. The bottling facility is certified to the IFS, BRC and ISO 9001 standards.
The Cariñena vineyard controlled by Bodegas San Valero covers 3200 hectares. White grape varieties include Muscat and Chardonnay and the red varieties are Tempranillo, Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan.
The majority of the vines are head-pruned bush vines and there is a significant proportion of old vines, planted 50 to 80 years ago. Old vines typically produce low yields of high quality grapes. The average yield for Castillo de Monséran Garnacha Vieja is just 1.8 tons per hectare, lower than many of the top classed growths of Bordeaux.
The climate is fully continental, with hot summers (up to 38°C) and cold winters (-8°C). Though the vineyards are protected by the surrounding Moncayo Mountains like an amphitheatre, a cool northerly breeze called the Cierzo influences the ripening season of the grapes, enhancing fruit flavours. Rainfall averages just 350-400mm per year.
There are three main soil types on the slopes surrounding the town of Cariñena, each adding complexity to the wine:
• Stone deposits from the glacial period
• Yellow-white limestone
• Red clay
Subsoils range from loose limestone in the higher vineyards to slate and alluvial types nearer the river. The lower altitude vineyards are ideal for ripening the Garnacha grape, bringing structure and body to the wines, while grapes from the cooler high-altitude vineyards bring fresh fruit flavours.
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