Huesca thematic

Number 63. August of 2003. Spanish language  Principal menu

Under-Mountains Wines

a Denomination of Origin

      Currently almost all the vineyard of Huesca is found in the Somontano, but 100 years ago they were cultivated in all the province some 52.000 hectares, so many as now in every Aragón, of which 13.700 were in the administrative area of Barbastro, 20.000 in the region at present known as Valley of Huesca, and near 7.000 in Sariñena and Benabarre respectively. Nevertheless, 150 years ago the surface was approximately the half, distributed practically by all the province, because the wine was a beverage of first need and the bad communications obliged everyone to manage to supply their needs, although the climatic conditions went not the most appropriate for the vine.
      The giddy growth of the vineyard in the second half of the century XIX owed, as already has been commented so many times, to the destruction of the vineyards in France by the apparition of the filoxera and, consequently, to the increase of the exports of wine to that country. Between the 1880 and 1886 years , the province of Huesca exports for railroad an average of 300.000 hectoliters, more the volume that left to France in cars by the Somport to the market of Olorón. In those years were established in Barbastro to fourteen merchants to buy the wine of the zone and to sell it outside; one of them was the French one Félix Lalanne, of the locality bordolesa of Barsac. The Lalanne remained in Barbastro, where they bought a farm in which they planted vineyards and they built a wine cellar continuing the purest style of Burgundy.
      When the French surpassed the crisis of the filoxera closed the importings of wine; as in every Spain, in the Somontano began to exceed wine by the four sides of the map coinciding, little later, with the apparition of this terrible one plagues in Spain. In zones as Cariñena, more dependent of the wine, they returned to plant new vineyards but in Huesca, such time with more alternative possibilities of cultivations, they abandoned the vine. Between 1900 and 1914 itself to they stopped cultivating in all the province some 35.000 Has. and in 1930 Barbastro had remained with only 1.900 Has. Habitually the vine-growers, utilizing some very rudimentary techniques, they devised the wine in their own wine cellars to sell it later the merchants. The relations among both. normally never have been easy, above all when the offering has been greater that the demand, as it happened in Spain after the Civil War of 1936.

      This situation took to the own vine-growers to create cooperative wine cellars better gifted for the production and sale of the wine without intermediaries; although in the Somontano, such time by it reduced importance of the vine in those moments, less interest existed in being associated and it cost more to be come to an agreement. Antonio Aznar doctor, managed to unite the wills to found the Cooperative in 1964.
      The own one Dr. Aznar was named president of the cooperative; he requested in 1968 the recognition of the Denomination of Origin Somontano, although he went in 1980 when the provisional Regulating Counsel with the purpose to constitute and to establish the bases and to devise the regulation. By then the principal meeting of the cooperative gave an impulse to the management and Luis Garcia Barbero, as managing director, and Pedro Escudé like wine-expert (enólogo), prompted the entrance of the wine of the Somontano in the future, with the Señorío of Lazán as insignia ship, from traditional variety Moristel that they knew to utilize of efficient form in the communication as distinction element .
      The prestige of Lalanne and the efficient commercialization of the cooperative, did that the wine of the Somontano would surprise in the markets. Suddenly the magazines specialized began to speak of this wine being created some encouraging expectations in the zone, that attracted outside investors. In 1984 the Denomination of Origin was recognized officially and in 1986 was created Viñas del Vero, with a Californian conception of the business of the wine from varieties very popularized like the Cabernet , Merlot, Chardonnay, etc., whose wines very were demanded in those moments by a stratum of consumers with high acquisitive power. At the beginning of 1990 was created Enate with an elitist idea of the wine, of high gamma, associated to the art and, of the five existing wine cellars when was created the Regulating Counsel, has passed to eleven currently; and other are in project.
      The Somontano has been known to take advantage of the present tendency of the foreign varieties to be positioned in the markets, but not therefore have been forgot of its raices. Right now, together al Central of Technology food-farming of the Government of Aragón, is involved in a project of selection and recovery of the traditional varieties Moristel and Parraleta, and wine Cellar Pyrenees (Bodegas Pirineos) there is position in motion a pioneering study in Spain, destined to know the lans with capacity to produce the maximum personality in the wines of " terroir". But the present prestige of the wines of this Denomination of Origin only has not had repercussion in the development of the zone. Besides , the Somontano has performed an important role in the development of the remainder of wines of Aragón.


* Juan Barbacil and Miguel Lorente
** The Great Book of the Wines of Aragón
*** Aneto Publications S. L..

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