Baron de Magaña
Baron de Magaña an estate-bottled wine made by Bodegas ViÃ±a MagaÃ±a in the Navarra DO, just northeast of Rioja. Spanish wine aficionados who consider Navarra strictly a source for bulk wines would do well to reflect on what owner Juan MagaÃ±a has accomplished. Thirty years ago, Juan had a vision. After researching the best wines in the world, he decided to grow Bordeaux grapes in Navarra. He bought Merlot cuttings from a nursery that sold to a famous chateaux in St. Emilion and Pomerol, and most notably the hallowed Chateau PÃ©trus. Starting as a pioneer in Navarra, over the years Juan's bodega has become a reference point for quality in the region. The 100-hectare (247 acre) estate is located just south of the Ebro River. With a focus on the Merlot grape, BarÃ³n is the most serious of the winery's lower-end bottlings. At once, Baron shows power and bright flavors with no green characters, with a structure that is integrated and harmonious. The southern district of Navarra has limestone that imparts characters of minerality and acidity that are unique to this place. Of the varieties grown on the estate, Merlot is best able to capture the minerality of the soil
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? All estate-owned fruit, limestone soil, PÃ©trus clones of Merlot and Cabernet. Unique microclimate. Bordeaux-like wines with good acidity. The Merlot portion of BarÃ³n precisely expresses the mineral character of the soil of this special vineyard.
RATING HISTORY: 2011 91RP & VN; 2010 93RP; 2009 92RP; 2007 94RP; 2005 90+WA; 2004 90WA; 2003 91WA
GRAPE: 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet, 20% Tempranillo, 10% Syrah. Vines planted in 1976-1990. Tended in limestone soil at 399 m (1,309 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This wine pairs very well with most baked or roast fowl, softer cheeses without too much fat. Unusual but successful pairings include clean-flavored seafood with a hint of sweetness, such as simply prepared grilled calamari, sea bass or brook trout.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: Each variety is vinified separately in 228-liter Burgundy capacity barrels. For fermentation, 15% whole clusters are retained. The wine is aged for fourteen months in two-year-old French oak barrels.
PRODUCTION: 2,300 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: Zone 4, at an elevation of 399 meters (1,309 ft). The vineyards are just 400 meters from the Rioja border south of Alfaro. Of the five districts in Navarra, Ribera Baja, where MagaÃ±a is located, is unique compared to the other districts because of its limestone bedrock and unique microclimate. The winery is located in the town of Barillas. The vines are trained in the Guyot double cordon system. For soils, thick river stones sit atop solid limestone bedrock. The climate is classified in Zone 4, Continental and Mediterranean. In short, it is warm and dry. Magaña's temperatures from April-October average 63.7F with levels of rainfall of 14.6 inches per year. The microclimate of the MagaÃ±a vineyards imparts a hearty character to these wines, making them richer, beefier and vibrant with bright acidity, all of which helps them age for many years!
TASTING NOTES: A sensational effort, it boasts a dense ruby/purple color as well as abundant notes of blackberries, crÃ¨me de cassis, camphor and flowers, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, tremendous lushness and purity, and a beautifully textured, round, generous finish. This sexy, supple wine should drink well for 3-5+ years.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold