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08 March 2005

Odd Grape Week: Las Rocas

Technically this isn't an odd grape - more like an 'odd' (read: fairly unknown) wine region.  Las Rocas is an inexpensive, super-hyped wine from the Spanish wine producing region of Calatayud (Castle of Ayub).  Calatayud is in the province of Aragon, located in northern Spain.

CalatayudCalatayud is a relatively youngish wine producing region.  It was granted DO status in 1990.  And there has been considerable investment in modern wine making facilities.  As a result it seems Calatayud is poised to produce New world style wines.

Eric Solomon of the "European Cellars" import group has found a little wine gem here that has been given the royal blessing by none other than wine lord pope cardinal Mr. Robert Parker (90+ points). 

Sanalejandrolasrocas_1The Skinny
Bodegas Alejandro "Las Rocas" Garnacha '02 ($7-8)

  • From the Calatayud DO of Northern Spain
  • All Garnacha (AKA Grenache, baby)
  • Shiny purple in color; fairly dense
  • As Rick James would say, "Superfruit, superfruit (it's superfruityyy)" - Lots of cherries, berries, plums with a titch of spice
  • Bold fruit flavors, wrapped in a medium-body, packing dense textures and a lingering finish

*** (3 stars out of 5 - No, I don't believe it's the best thing since sliced Merlot.  It is however, a heckuva value)

Even though this wine is firmly in the New world camp, it still works with food (just not with toasted walnuts....ewww.  Oops).  Try it with grilled meats, pasta dishes, or Italian cold cuts.



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Yes, Rick James should have been a wine critic!
About Calatayud: this region is strange in that it exports about 75% of production, so many people in Spain don't even know about it. Garnacha is by vary its principal grape and "Las Rocas" really shows how good this underated variety can be.


Thanks for the comments Steven.
I've noticed quite a few Garnacha-based wines from Calatayud popping up in the US market. Yummy stuff.



jens rosenkrantz

I have tasted the 2002 at JeanRo Bistro in Cincinnati several times and like it very much. Have had no luck finding the 2002 in stores, just the 2003 which is, in my opinion, not as earth shattering.


I am amazed that little ol' Utah Wine stores got in, what seems to be, a very large shipment of the '02. I've not tasted the '03.

Jens - I've tried syndicating your site (so I can see when it's updated via RSS or XML). Is it syndicated?




At the risk of splitting hairs, I feel like I ought to clarify something. The wine that Monsier Parker was speaking of with the old 'greatest discovery' bit is a different wine than the one you are reviewing. The aforementioned wine is the 'Las Rocas de San Alejandro 'Viñas Viejas' Garnacha 2001. I know it is a minor point, but they are indeed very different wines. For the record, the V.V. is made from 100+ year old vines, whereas the straight 'Las Rocas' comes from spry vines of a wee 75 years.

Both are very good in my opinion, but very different. On a recent trip to Baltimore, I found a bottle of the regular 'Las Rocas 2003'. For $7.99, why would you drink anything else? Unfortunately, Mr Solomon and his old distributor here in Georgia decided to part ways (in a rather ugly fashion) and as such, we have not seen the 02's or the 03's of either bottling.

Good post, keep it up.



Hmm. I thought I had a copy of the shelf talker. Perhaps I didn't read the fine print? I'll investigate. However, seeing as you are in the biz, I of course, will defer to you. Thanks for pointing this out. Someday soon, I'm making my way to Le Chai.




I found the 2003 a little too sweet but maybe that's just me.


I had some 2003 from the same bottle (which seemed to me "too sweet" - see above) the next day and it was great. Perhaps airing it for a few hours has this effect.


Hi Vladimir,

Indeed, a little air time will help even young, super-fruity wines..

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