Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Classic Pagos of the Marco de Jerez: Carrascal

Confusingly there are two pagos named Carrascal: a smaller and a little less important one near Sanlúcar and the larger and more famous one near Jerez which is the subject of this piece. Extending to the east from the Trebujena road which marks its border with the pagos Almocadén and Macharnudo, and limited by the A4 road to the east, the Carrascal is one of the classic pagos, lying due north of Jerez, which can be seen in the distance.

1904 map of the Carrascal (Adolfo Lopez Cepero)

 Like its neighbours it is some 18 kilometres from the coast and is regarded as the farthest inland of the classic pagos and the one which least benefits from the Poniente. This location and its more continental climate almost certainly explain its predilection for fuller bodied wines, and many fine Olorosos come from here, however good Fino can also be produced, for example some of the mosto for Tio Pepe is from the Carrascal.

Gonzalez Byass vineyards in Carrascal

 The delimited area of the pago is 885 hectares but currently vineyards only account for 403, which are planted on slopes which are generally orientated south west to get the best natural protection from the Levante and benefit from any Poniente that might reach it. The pago has been traditionally subdivided into 7 sub-pagos and the soil is pure albariza, much of it barajuela, a finely laminated form of albariza, lying between some 50 and 120 metres above sea level.

Viña El Corregidor

 While most of the pagos have long histories, the Carrascal is certainly one of the oldest, and while the first written reference to vines only dates from 1414, it was certainly producing wine in Roman times. Its name “Carrascal” translates as a forest of holm oaks (quercus ilex) which presumably grew here long ago, indeed the etymological root of the word is pre-Roman.

Gonzalez Byass Viña La Canariera

Famous plots include Viña La Canariera and Viña Romano belonging to González Byass, Viña El Corregidor (once Sandeman now Luis Pérez), Viña El Telégrafo (M Gil Luque - Estévez), Viña Dos Mercedes (Williams & Humbert), La Panesa (once Emilio Hidalgo, Luis Perez´ PX Carrascal comes from here), Viña Montegilillo (Lustau).

Wines made from Carrascal grapes include: Rio Viejo (Lustau), Barajuela (Luis Pérez), Aurora Oloroso (Yuste), Oloroso Su Majestad (Valdespino).

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