Chozas Carrascal, Las Ocho, 2017
DO Pago Chozas Carrascal
Vino de Pago is Spain's highest designation for wine and this winery is one of less than 20 in the country to receive this special recognition. Located about 40 minutes from Valencia, wine production around this area has been less than exemplary but modernizations in winemaking and investments into the area have galvanized an astounding transformation here. Grapes are grown both organically and biodynamically with most of the vineyards at elevations of 740-850 meters above sea level.
In 1990, the winery took the difficult decision to uproot nearly all vines and to replant the entire vineyard, save a few old vines of Garnacha and Bobal. Today, the winery benefits from a microclimate within the region, with the vineyards considered part of a regional nature reserve. An old part of the winery is part of national Spanish heritage, dating back to 1870, and known simply as "El Carrascal" back then.
Las Ocho is a blend of, as you might have guessed, 8 different grapes including Bobal, Monastrell, Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot. Thankfully, they don't seem to own any wrenches at this winery or the kitchen sink might have ended up in there too. Each grape variety is vinified separately, which is important to maintain their unique properties. After fermentation, 75% of the wine is aged in small French oak barrels for 14 months, with the remainder aged in staintless steel tanks. Following that aging period, the wine is bottled and then aged for another 12 months.
This is a big, walloping, powerful red with round tannins and a subtle minerality. Blackberries and balsamic are pronounced ahead of the toasted vanilla, coffee and dark chocolate notes. The Cabernet Sauvignon in this lends great complexity and structure to the overall blend. Lengthy finish with a persistent aftertaste of toasty oak. Fans of full-bodied reds are going to adore this offering.
Food pairing recommendations include dry-aged steaks (think the big cuts like bone-in ribeyes, T-Bones, porterhouses), Italian veal stew and hearty vegetables grilled over charcoal. Burgers and classic barbecue like ribs and brisket are also dandy.