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All of Spain’s DOs could be described as “in transition,” from co-op managed, value-driven offerings to stand–alone brands with higher prices. But Calatayud is a poster child for the movement. Only ten years ago, excellent Garnacha–based wines were available here for five or six dollars; now those same bottlings are twice that price or more, and there are bottles whose price is significantly higher. Garnacha can be friendly and cheap (as it is in France’s Côtes–du–Rhône) or complex and powerful (as it is in France’s Châteauneuf–du–Pape and Spain’s Priorat), but some tasters find it to be something altogether different here—rich, sappy, minty, but more importantly, reflective of the complex terroir of Calatayud. The rugged countryside offers red and white clay, quartz, limestone, and slate in high and cool plateaux, or in warm and sunny pockets among these mountains and escarpments. The Sistema Ibérico looms north and west, and the rivers Ebro, Jalón, Jiloca, Manubles, Mesa, Piedra, and Ribota all cut through, providing some cooler influences.

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