Cariñena can be found in northeast Spain, about midway between Midrid and Barcelona. One of the oldest operating wine regions in the world, the region is considered the origin of the carignan grape, hence its name. (In Spain, however, carignan is more commonly known as mazuelo.)
That said, a whole lot of wine varieties are grown here beyond carignan, including the grapes in the three wines we review below, all from this enigmatic — and value-oriented — area.
2017 Bodegas San Valero Castillo Ducay Blanco – A blend of viura and chardonnay, this wine comes across more like pinot grigio at first, intensely floral with a lemon-honey edge. Definitely on the sweeter side of the spectrum, if it weren’t for some solid acidity that manages to hang on for the ride this would be far too cloying for easy enjoyment. As it stands, it’s reasonably balanced — enough to justify its minuscule price tag, anyway. B / $10
2017 Grandes Vinos El Circo ‘Volatinero’ Tempranillo – Quite sweet and uncharacteristic of Rioja’s tempranillo wines, this rendition feels a bit undercooked and on the pruny side, its fruit blunt and filtered through a rough dusting of spice. B- / $10
2017 Bodegas Paniza Viñas de Paniza Syrah – Probably the most fulfilling of these wines, but also the most anonymous. This comes across a lot like an extracted California syrah, with ample tannin and some sour cherry notes backing up a palate of cherry juice and roasted pork. Somewhat doughy and particularly earthy on the finish. B / $12