Spain is a vast country comprised of 13 wine regions with over 2,000 vineyard acres and 200+ grape varieties. Situated in the north-eastern region of Spain between La Rioja and Navarra, near the town of Pamplona lies Hacienda de Arínzano. Arínzano is not just another Spanish winery, they are the first winery in northern Spain to be recognized as Pago status, Spain’s highest winery recognition, as well as established a relationship with the World Wildlife Fund to guarantee their agricultural practices are sustainable and environmentally sound. If a winery goes to this much effort to be socially and environmentally conscious imagine the quality of the wines.
Arínzano has a history of nobility, founded in the 11th century when he noble Sancho Fortuñones de Arínzano began producing wines on the property. By the 16th century the estate fell into the hands of another nobleman, Mosén Lope de Eulate. Eulate was an advisor to King Juan de Labrit. In the 18th century it changed hands again, this time into the hands of Marquess of Zabalegui, who built a rural mansion to enjoy the beauty of the estate. However, the Spanish nobility began to fall apart and with it the estate fell into disrepair, but not before a small chapel was built dedicated to San Martin de Tours, the patron saint of winemaking.
The estate was rediscovered in 1988 by the Chivite family. After vigorous testing it was determined the estate was comprised of a singular microclimate, ideal for growing high quality grapes. Vitis vinifera was carefully planted, matching the ideal grape to the parcel best suited for its success. The historic buildings were rehabilitated and the winery, designed by famed architect Rafael Moneo, the only Pritzker Prize awarded architect in Spain, was built. At the turn of the 21st century Spain’s King and Queen inaugurated Arinzano to celebrate the rebirth of a noble tradition more than a thousand years old. The winery is designed to maintain its noble tradition as well as its philosophy of environmental consciousness. Utilizing modern techniques it upholds the artisanal methods of grape production with an organic flow through the wine making process to guarantee delicate treatment juxtaposed with precision.
“Our family´s aim is to create wines that express the singular character of the Arínzano estate vineyards. We use the most advanced and careful techniques to guarantee an artisan treatment through the whole winemaking process, and we pursue a viticulture that not only respects, but actually favors the natural environment.” ~ via Grandes Pagos de España
As mentioned above, Arínzano contacted the WWF to insure the protection of their flora and fauna on the estate. Their efforts with the WWF revolve around four points:
- The conservation and restoration of the natural environment: half of the estate is reserved for autoctonous flora and fauna.
- Organic viticulture with a low-environmental impact, and integrated pest control.
- Use of only certified environmental materials in the construction of the winery.
- Natural waste water filtration through a series of lagoons.
Over time some of Spain’s wine regions became over-run with purchases of bulk juice to produce cheap, low-quality wines. In 2003 a group of winery owners formed Grandes Pagos de España as a certification higher than Spain’s DOCa. This certification may only be achieved through a rigorous process lasting ten years to prove uniqueness of terroir, soil, and climate, along with chemical analysis of the wine achieves its highest quality for ten years in a row to demonstrate consistency. The aim of the certification as explained by Grandes Pagos de España is to “highlight the unique personality of wines made from the best vineyards and to promote the culture of single vineyard estates…expanding this unique approach to winemaking and oenological understanding.” Only 30 wineries in all of Spain hold this certification.
In 2015, Stoli Group USA added Arínzano to its luxury wine holdings which only aids in increasing the US wine consumers opportunity to purchase Arínzano’s award-winning wines. Furthermore, if a trip to Spain is in your future (highly recommended) consider adding a stay in Arínzano’s luxury accommodations, or just stop in for a tasting and some food. Visit their web site to learn more about events, tastings, and accommodations.
2014 Hacienda de Arinzano White Vino de Pago Spain ($19): 100% Chardonnay; medium lemon in the glass; pronounced aromas of baked yellow apples, pears, and citrus; warm caramel, toasted graham cracker crust, and coconut; creamy texture that coats the palate, medium+ acidity balancing out creaminess, full body, rich wine that is lush on the palate with a long, tart citrus finish.
2010 Hacienda de Arinzano Gran Vino Blanco Vino de Pago Spain ($81): 100% Chardonnay; medium lemon in the glass; medium+ aromas of cinnamon dusted ripe apples, warm caramel, toasted graham crackers, crème brulee, and lemon curd; smooth and silky on the palate with an explosion of lemon zest, medium+ acidity creates a nice mouth pucker in this rich, full body wine with a long tart citrus finish, elegantly balanced.
2011 Hacienda de Arinzano Tinto Vino de Pago Spain ($18.99): 80% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; deep ruby with scarlet hues; pronounced aromas of stewed cherries, plums, blackberries, and currants, dried violets, fresh picked tobacco, milk chocolate, sweet baking spice, black pepper, and vanilla; youthful silky tannins on the palate, medium acidity, full body wine with pronounced dusty earth and spice notes on the palate, long peppery finish.
2008 Hacienda de Arinzano La Casona Vino de Pago Spain ($36): 75% Tempranillo and 15% Merlot; deep ruby with scarlet hues in the glass; pronounced aromas of baked red fruits including cherries, raspberries, plums and currants, with dried rose petals, sweet baking spice, dried tobacco, smoke, black currant leaf, and vanilla; incredibly youthful with years of further cellar potential; rich and elegant on the palate with youthful tannins that feel like silk on the palate, medium acidity, full body, long fruit forward finish; a beautiful balance of fruit and earth in a wine that delivers way beyond its price.
2008 Hacienda de Arinzano Gran Vino Vino de Pago Spain ($83): 100% Tempranillo; deep garnet in the glass; medium aromas of restrained blackberries, black cherries, plums, and currants, dried herbal notes with eucalyptus, medicinal, damp underbrush, leather, Chinese Five spice, espresso, and vanilla; pronounced dusty tannins that feel grippy on the palate, medium+ acidity adds balance, depth of texture with tension between rustic nature and elegance, full body with a long, dusty earth finish, a really outstanding wine.
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