Carinena is a Spanish Denominacion de Oirgen (DO) for wines located in Carinena, Aragon, in the Zaragonza province, Spain. It is one of the oldest DO's in Europe, having been created in 1932. Traditionally wines produced in this region were robust and high in alcohol content. With the huge increase in exports, which have quadrupled since 1995, wine makers in the region are producing lighter, fruitier wines to cater to the tastes of the average export consumer. Wines out of this region are well known for their quality.
The Romans founded the city of Carae, which is today known as carinena, in 50BC. They noticed that the local inhabitants mixed wine and mead (a fermented drink made from honey and water). The Romans carried on this winemaking tradition.
In the middle ages Under the protection of several monasteries the wine industry in the area flourished, and by the 16th century vineyards covered nearly 50% of the territory. There methods of production improved and wines produced in the region became well known for their quality throughout Spain.
In 1901 Phylloxera made its way to the Carinena region and destroyed many vineyards, but by 1932 the industry had was well on its way to recovering and the region received Spain's first Denominacion de Oirgen (DO).
Carinena lies about 30 miles southwest of the provincial capital, Zaragosa. Most of the vineyards in the DO are situated on the Campo de Carinena (Cariñena Plain). The lower vineyards lie at an altitude of around 1300 feet, rising to around 2600 feet in the foothills of the Sierra de la Virgen mountains. Soils vary, but most fall into one of three categories slate, limestone over rock, or alluvial soils.
The most widely planted grapes within the region are Garnacha Tinta followed by Tempranillo, and Mazuelo. These grapes are the main ones used to produce the reds and Rose wines. Viura is the most common grape used to produce white wines in the region. In recent times many growers have started to plant grapes such as Chardonnay and Merlot in the region.
Being a region and not a varietal wine type, wines produced in Carinena can obviously vary greatly in taste. But generally speaking the fresh young whites and rosé wines from the region are best consumed within the year of production. The reds tend to have the characteristic style of Garnacha wines produced in hot climates. You can still find the traditional robust, high alcohol wines from this region, but with the focus switching to the export market many wines tend to be a little more fruity and light. Wines produced in this DO are high quality and are gaining a foothold in the market.