To reach the Xiloca estate one must first climb a steep, narrow road into the rugged heart of Aragon. There is no sign to show the way. Instead, a massive orchard of century-old cherry trees with ancient Garnacha vines interspersed among the trees greet visitors brave enough to make the venture, and only this stand of cherry trees confirms to the rare visitor that he has indeed arrived at Xiloca. Whether it is the proximity of the cherry orchard or the propensity for old vine Garnacha to offer savory scents of black cherry, the intensely colored 2015 Xiloca Garnacha offers a deep draught of ripe black cherry in its aroma, with subtle hints of plum, earth and minerals to add complexity and lift. In the mouth, the 2015 Xiloca Garnacha offers plenty of plush fruit flavors born of Jiloca’s old, heirloom Garnacha vines. The wine’s pleasant minerality and ripe tannins offer fine counterpoint to its intense fruit, which makes for uncomplicated, unadulterated enjoyment. The 2015 Xiloca Garnacha weighs in at 14.5% alcohol, yet it never appears weighty in the mouth, making it come across as both fresh and medium-bodied. The 2015 Xiloca Garnacha offers both bold flavors along with Old World charm. For optimal enjoyment, allow this old vine Garnacha at least 20-30 minutes of aeration before serving it at cool room temperature (59°-64° F).
Wines made from old vine Garnacha or Grenache, such as the 2015 Xiloca Garnacha, are some of the easiest wines to pair with all kinds of foods, making them popular companions in Spain and elsewhere to everything from the simplest of tapas to the most complex paellas. A savory chicken and black bean chili, chicken with black olives and wild herbs, as well as roast leg of lamb, rubbed with garlic, olive oil and wild Mediterranean herbs provide wonderful foils to Xiloca’s bold-flavored Garnacha. Roast squab rubbed with garlic, anise or herbes de Provence and wrapped in bacon offers another tasty accompaniment to the 2015 Xiloca Garnacha. Fresh pasta and roasted Acorn Squash with Manchego Cheese provides another opportunity to let the 2015 Xiloca shine. Spicy eggplant and zucchini dishes pair nicely with this wine, too. In fact, most highly seasoned Mediterranean dishes, whether meat, cheese, pasta or vegetable offer excellent opportunities to showcase Xiloca’s flavorful, plush old vine Garnacha.
The wealth of sheep and cow’s milk cheeses that proliferate throughout Spain provide superb complements to Xiloca’s 2015 Garnacha. A mild Spanish cheese such as Tetilla as well more robust flavored cheeses such as Cabrales, Mahon, Majorero, and Manchego all provide wonderful companionship to Xiloca’s old vine Garnacha. For more tasty wine and cheese pairings or to learn more about the world’s finest cheeses, contact us at www.cheesemonthclub.com
Bodega Sommos’ Xiloca estate lies off the beaten path, high up in the hills of the rugged Jiloca River Valley in the ancient province of Aragon. A visit to the Xiloca estate is a voyage back in time – literally. Xiloca’s vineyards range in elevation from 2,900 to 4,000 feet, and their slopes, which consist of exposed slate, harbor enormous Cambrian fossil deposits of trilobites murerienses and other prehistoric remnants that paleontologist’s routinely journey to Xiloca to study.
Bodegas Sommos recently acquired Xiloca from José Antonio Martín, who was born and raised in the remote Jiloca River Valley and who worked assiduously to restore the property and revive the estate’s ancient vineyards. Martín possessed a love for this land from spending his youth among the vineyards of his forefathers in nearby Murero's Pago de la Moratilla. He returned to Jiloca in 2001 with friends, including noted Spanish wine authorities, and formed a partnership to resuscitate Jiloca’s nearly forgotten old heirloom Garnacha vines. He revitalized plots of ancient vines (some 100 years of age) that he purchased from local growers looking to retire. Two years later he completed a new bodega in time for Xiloca’s debut 2003 harvest. Under the direction of Bodega Sommos, the revitalization endures and the quality of Xiloca’s old vine Garnacha continues to soar, setting the bar for Garnacha in Jiloca.
The Jiloca area is the highest growing region in Calatayud in the Zaragoza province of Aragon where it is widely thought that the Garnacha variety originated, which makes Xiloca’s vineyards some of the highest in Spain. With an average age of 80 years and yields as low as 700 pounds (a miniscule 1/3 ton) per acre, Xiloca’s yields are also among the tiniest in Spain. Xiloca’s specialty is this month’s selection, unoaked, heirloom Garnacha from hand-picked vines from the estate’s steep, nearly inaccessible slopes. The very old, low-yielding Garnacha vines develop firm tannins to balance the wine’s concentrated fruit and pronounced minerality.
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