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The region’s name may prove a greater obstacle to successful marketing than the quality of the wine. Catalayud is derived from the Moorish castle of Qalat that was built by the ruler Ayub. Qalat-ayub became distorted to Calatayud. Spanish wine-growing was started here by the Celts, long before the arrival of the Romans. The great improvement in quality though is of very recent origin. The soil of Calatayud consists of chalk on marl with a top layer of sand and loam in the north and of slate and gypsum in the south.

The more elevated vineyards at the foot of the Sierra del Virgen are situated at almost 2,952 feet(900 metres), while the average height of the vineyards in the Jalón valley is about 1,476 feet (450 metres). The entire area has a continental climate with hot summers and harsh winters. The elevated position of the vineyards and presence of cooling mountain winds keeps the vineyards cooler than in Campo de Borja and Cariñena. It would be a mistake to assume that with such favourable circumstances the local growers concentrate on making quality Spanish wines. Fortunately there are some younger growers who now seem set to achieve the area’s potential. There first results are very promising. These modern Spanish wine-makers are succeeding through the replacement of hopelessly decrepit equipment but also by forging a better link between terroir, climate, and grape variety to create wines with bouquets of individual character rather than the former concentration on alcohol and volume.

The Spanish wines are produced with Viura (Macabeo) and Malvasia grapes, sometimes supplemented with a little Garnacha Blanca and the native Juan Ibáñez. Drink this Spanish wine at 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C). The rosados are somewhat better in quality, full-bodied and fresh, but also very fruity. They are chiefly made with Garnacha Tinto. A warning though: read the label carefully to see the level of alcohol! There are Rosados de Catalayud that are 14% alcohol. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine: 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

The reds (Tinto) are predominantly vinos jovenes. Drink this Spanish wine at: 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).

The rarer Crianzas, Reservas, and Gran Reservas of Garnacha, Mazuela, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon are certainly worth seeking out. They offer a warm, full flavour, combined with a certain freshness and elegance. Drinking temperature for a good Spanish wine at: 60.8-62.6°F (16-17°C).

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