Thursday, November 17, 2016

Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado, One of Spain's (and Europe's) Truly Great Rosé Wines

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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating 

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"You ask about rosé?  Blended from tempranillo and garnacha (red grapes), verdejo and alvillo (white), the Hermanos Merino Viña Catajarros rosado ($14.99), from the Cigales region, was seamless and displayed a certain seriousness under its flirtatiousness."  Howard G. Goldberg

Bodegas Hermanos Merino, Corcos del Valle (Valladolid), Castilla y León 
Viña Catajarros Elite Rosado 2014 D. O. Cigales 13.0% 12/750ML $14.99 SRP
(A blend of 80% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha Tinta, 5% Verdejo, 5% Alvillo, the latter two white wine grapes.)

Appearance:  Pretty, bright, strawberry-raspberry rosé (please don't call my rosados pink).

Nose:  strawberry-cherry fruit with hints of spices such as cloves and cinnamon.

Palate:  A delicious, lively wine with excellent acidity, bright strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavors and spices, with a dry classic finish and nice light, but firm tannins from the red grape skins and a lingering minerality that makes it a great food wine.

This is a wine that begs for a second bottle.  I also would not hesitate to cellar this wine for seven to eight years.

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"Hermanos Merino Catajarros Cigales Rosado, a mix of two red grapes (tempranillo and garnacha) and two white grapes (verdejo and alvillo). The latter had a slight spritz, and lots of body without being weighty; it is an unmitigated bargain and will become our house pour for the summer. If I can lay my hands on some." - - Rozanne Gold, Waiting For Godello: The New Wines of Spain, The Huffington Post

Eugenio Merino of Bodegas Hermanos Merino, producers of Catajarros Rosado, Cigales, Castilla y León, Spain, with one of his magnificently tended Tempranillo vines (note the stony floor of the vineyard, which is reminiscent of the vineyards of Chateaunuef-du-Pape.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Viña Catajarros Elite Rosado is the best rosado from Cigales I have ever tasted and one of the greatest rosados of Spain.  The wine is made from 80% Tinto del País, as it is known here (Tempranillo), Garnacha (10%) and two white wine grapes, Verdejo (5%)  y Alvillo (5%).  The wine is fermented in stainless steel and bottled in March or later.  In January 2012, The Spanish Artisan Wine Group chose to bring in the 2010 rather than wait for the 2011, because serious rosados like Viña Catajarros are even better with extra time in bottle.  I have had Catajarros Rosado when it was ten years old and the wine was still drinking beautifully.

Viña Catajarros is made by the Merino brothers, led by Eugenio Merino, a man who works his own vineyards and treats each goblet-pruned vine like it is one of his children. One of the primary premises of Bodega Hijos de Crescencia Merino is to take meticulous care of their vines with the objective of obtaining high quality wine and they consider that the success of their wines begins in the vineyard. The family has 17 hectares (42 acres) of vines around the tiny village of Corcos del Valle, north of the historic provincial capital of Valladolid.  

Eighty per cent of the vineyards are planted in Tinto del País (Tempranillo), the principal variety of the D.O. Cigales, the other 20% is a mix Garnacha and white wine grapes, Verdejo, Viura and Alvillo.  Seven and a half acres of the vines are more than 50 years old and some 1,200 of the vines are at least 100 years old.  More than 30 acres of the vines are goblet pruned and growing on rock-strewn ground reminiscent of vineyards in Chateaunuef-du-Pape.

The Merino brothers work their vines all year long and try to keep sulphur treatments of the vines to a mínimum.  This area is very dry, so mildew and oidum threats are rarely a problem. To reduce yields, in the section of the vineyards on wires (only 12 acres), grapes are green harvested, but the other 30 acres are pruned back in the winter months to leave three branches each with three shoots and a “thumb” with two shoots with the intention of keeping the yields at under five tons per hectare (less than 2.25 tons per acre), the yield that the Merinos consider optimum to obtain high quality wines.  As with the majority of my artisan producers, there is no irrigation in these vineyards. 

Catajarros was originally vinified in the family's classic hand-hewn wine cave bodega, where the grapes were pressed with a rustic stone-and-timber Roman style wine press. Thousands of these caves* dot the soft-stone hillsides of Castilla y León and where were many of the region's artisan wines and artisanal cheeses were historically made.  Just fifteen years ago, the Merino Brothers stopped making wine in their cave and built a small, functional bodega in Corcos de Valle.

When I discovered this wine, I went immediately to see Eugenio Merino and visited him at least four times before acquiring his wines for the U.S.  At the time, he was using a plastic stopper in his wines, but I convinced him to seal his wines with Amorim cork and he became my first supplier to switch to Amorim corks, which we guarantee 100% against cork taint. 

All the corks that seal our bottles come from Amorim and the corks in my artisan wines are double checked at the cork factory.  In all my tastings which includes several hundred bottles since I began acquiring wines for The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections, I have less than half a dozen bottles of white wine, none of which were sealed with an Amorim cork (that supplier switched to Amorim right away) and virtually no rosados with cork taint.

"Rosé makes people happy. Especially this one."  
Comment & photo posted by Dr. Vino on Twitter.
As part of a wine trip connected to the annual Zarcillo de Oro wine competition, I was invited to a tasting of Cigales wines at the Consejo Regulador offices in Cigales.   Many of the wines were the beefy, high alcohol reds now being made in this region that was once famous for its rosados.  I tasted Catajarros and, as soon as the tasting was over, I asked where I could find the producer.

That tasting led to a meeting with Eugenio Merino and a visit to Corcos, where on several occasions over a period of four years, I tasted the wines from vintages going back five years--and this was when this wines were bottled with plastic stoppers. 

Among all the wines in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections portfolio Viña Catajarros is one of several wines that consistently draw the most praise from the experience tasters who come to my tasting luncheons (see below).  
Even though the  Merinos make mostly rosado (and a small amount of red wine) right now, I consider them to be one of my most prized artisan suppliers. 

Hermanos Merino Viña Catajarros Slide Show


About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés.

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at;
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