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The Different Spanish Wines

The Spanish wine industry is experiencing exciting times. The 70 regions of Spain are full of energetic and talented winemakers who are creating ever more exquisite and unique wines that we can enjoy. The country’s diversity cannot be easily summarized but this guide will give specifics on the main regions and styles. It is written with a distinctive style that is written by Carlos Read whose in-depth knowledge of the country is unmatched. He is also known as the top UK importer specialist for Spanish wines. The regions that produce fine wines like Sherry (Jerez) as well as Rioja have their own distinct guides.

Spain is a vast country that is incredibly diverse and even a brief glance at its physical terrain as well as its massive mountain ranges specifically, can serve to explain the significant regional distinctions created by the numerous natural boundaries.

The history of Spain is complex and complicated. Spain was not even beginning to unite as an entire nation until the end of the 15th century. The infrastructure of the country was basically the product of two major foreign masters which were The Romans (from 3rd century BC through the fourth/fifth centuries AD) and the Moors (from 711 until 1492).

A brief overview of the history

The first provided not only roads, aqueducts, or amphitheatres but also thirst and a huge export market. In around the turn of the century AD Rome alone was able to consume around 20 million amphorae of Spanish wines including sweetness of Malaga as well as those Claretes (or lighter wines) from Amandi within Galicia (a favorite, especially with spiced lamprey, from The Emperor Augustus) and finally, and including the Catalan wines of Tarragona and the whites of Alella. Hispanic popularity was so great that strict new limitations on plantation had to be placed on colonies in order to safeguard native winemakers.

The ones that were not despite the prohibitions in the Koran and the resulting symbolic destruction of a number of Spanish vineyards in order to make raisins, were according to modern standards, quite educated. The habits of the Christian populace were accepted as was the sale and production of wine. This even though it was in a smaller amount, helped keep the industry thriving. After the end of the war against the Moors and the deportation from the Jews production increased steadily because of the colonies that were expanding. A lot of foreign merchants joined to fill the void created from the Jews.

In the 16th century, when Christopher Columbus discovered America, the town of Sherry of Sanlucar de Barrameda became an important transatlantic port of trade and the wines of the region are believed to be the first wine to arrive in America. This is why Jerez/Sherry belongs to Spain the same way that Port can be to Portugal and deserves the benefit of its own guide.

There was also an incident of French intervention into Rioja but the actual winemaking revolution took place politically following Franco’s demise in 1975. The first decade of the 1980s witnessed an era of technological innovation due to the introduction to stainless steel. The last few years have seen huge funds pouring into new wineries, however with Spain is currently the most recession-stricken European nation, a large portion of them are set to close, and restoring some aspect of the natural equilibrium.

The DO System

The primary terms used by Spain’s DO (Denominacion de Origen) the wine quality control system by ascending rank of its quality are:

Vino de Mesais a common table wine that is produced in unclassified vineyards. It can be blended and bears no vintage or details of grape varieties.

Vino de la Tierra, which is the equivalent of wine from the French wine de pays. Table wine with a geographically defined origin, usually from a large autonomous region (ie. Vino de La Tierra of Catalunya) The wine will indicate a specific year of production and will provide details about the grape variety.

DO (Denominacion de Origen) is the equivalent to French VDQS, AC as well as Italian DOC and covers wines that are produced within the strict guidelines of the specific Consejos Reguladores (regional regulating council).

DOCa (Deonominacion of Origen Calicada) is a similar one and mostly seen in Rioja in the years ago, it was introduced with the intention of limiting it to the top producers. However, it caused such a flurry of jealousy and backbiting that the majority of Rioja has now been declared DOCa!

In addition, special reference should be made to Cava which is the sole DO made based on the winemaking process (in essence, these are sparkling wines produced using an old-fashioned method) instead of geography.

The last two categories that are that are worth noting and most recently ones, include Vinos de Pago as well as Vinos de Pago Calificada (pago can be the Spanish word for vineyard). They apply to single vineyards that have a distinct microclimates and an outstanding quality records.

There are over 70 DOs. As while the system is laudable, however it might be, there’s one drawback to autonomys managing the system. It is because DO status can be given as a form of encouragement, instead of a sign of actual efforts, improvement and advancement. In the Canary Islands, for instance are home to an astounding nine DOs but surprisingly only a few wines of genuine value and quality, other than the handful of delightful dry whites and dessert wines made by the malvasia grape. The same is true for Rioja. Rioja is now managed by three autonomous governments that include The region is administered by Alavesa through the Basques, Alta by La Rioja and Baja by the government of Navarra.

Grape File

Indigenous Grape Varieties

Spain has an abundance of grape varieties native to the country up to 600, but all major production is based on similar to 20 percent of these.

The most significant kinds are:

Pansa Blanca
Pedro Ximenez
Prieto Picudo
Tinta de Toro (tempranillo in Toro)
Tinto Aragones
Tinto Fino (tempranillo in Ribera del Duero)

Tempranillo Grapes

The most well-known of these is the well-known tempranillo. Some claim to be connected to pinot noir. It is the result of numerous monastic journeys towards Santiago de Compostela (see Galicia). It’s a Spanish word meaning ‘the tiny early one’, due to its small size and its early ripening however, it also comes with numerous names depending on the region where it is planted, and may behave differently in relation to the place it is planted, the soils it is grown on and the climate it is subjected to.

Foreign Grape Varieties

The Spanish drink very little foreign wines (the latest available statistics show the consumption at less than a third ). 1 %!). They are very satisfied with local produced cabernet, chardonnay, blanc, gewurztraminer malbec, merlot and verdot and sauvignon blanc Syrah and blends thereof. While international varieties of Spanish wine are quite attractive, it’s not a surprise that it’s the indigenous grapes that are the main focus of the Wine Society’s customers because they produce some of the most intriguing wines.



The ancient kingdom that lies immediately to the South of Navarra is home to Zaragoza as its capital city. It is made up of 4 DOs.

Calatayud is the most westerly and the highest quality, which specializes primarily in garnacha from old vines generally dark and full-flavoured.

Campo de Borja – whose superb garnachas and tempranillos is typically more succulent and juicy and have more intense red fruit flavors

Carinena, the southernmost of the most homogeneous

Somontano is the most far east and most cool, located in the foothills of Pyrenees and focusing most effectively on international styles derived from gewurztraminer, chardonnay and gewurztra there is also cabernet and merlot too.

The Balearic Islands

With a population of 900,000 people, these islands, which are located immediately to the south of Barcelona include Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera, and Cabrera as well as a few others that are tiny. Mallorquin is a language that is like Catalan but is a bit more dense.

Like all islands, individuals thrive However, unlike the Canaries in this case, the common sense prevails and there are only 2 DOs: Binissalem (with some 15 producers) and Pla I Llevant (with some 11 producers).).

Prior to the outbreak of phylloxera, there was about 27,000 hectares of grapevines in Mallorca however, with tourism being an important industry, it is now about 700 acres. Manto, its black varieties – fogoneu, negro, callet and fogoneu frances make dark, intensely flavored reds in a comparable style as garnacha. Monastrell and Tempranillo, as well as foreign varieties like cabernet, syrah and merlot and pinot noir are also abounding into this. White wines along with the moll indigenous to Mexico prensal blanco and moscatel/muscat macabeo and parellada, there’s also Chardonnay.

White wines are equally intriguing with a strong aroma and, often, a certain minerality. However, the high demand locally and the resulting high costs result in them not being seen outside of the islands.

Castilla y Leon

Valladolid the capital city in this region, used to be the capital city of Spain (before the shift into Madrid at the time of 1561) and is in various ways the religious, spiritual and militarily important capital of Spain. There are five DOs in the city:

El Bierzo – way up in the north westregion, close to the Galician border, is a specialist in mencia and godello but not as well with the mencia, but much more when it comes to the later. Outside of the DO specifically, there is the amazing prieto picudo wine variety that can yield large, rich reds that have excellent structure and amazing flavors of the purple fruit.

Cigales is located in northern Valladolid although it is mainly known because of its porous, vigorous roses, has a few small-scale producers who concentrate on the stunning old-vine tempranillos.

Rueda located in South of city produces some of the most commercial whites of the present across Spain. They are mostly made from the gooseberry-scented verdejo varieties (literally the largest green one) and sauvignon blanc (it was the first Spanish region to grow this variety in any quantity) and sometimes viura, which is used to enhance your middle taste.

Toro which is located situated to the south-west, is possibly the most rural , with the most severe climate. the tintas de Toro wines are quite rustic. There are a few top producers, who mostly grow their grapes on pebbly soils, and producing huge low yield, black-fruit-scented wines with a huge power (usually 14.5 percent) that age beautifully over the course of a short time.

Ribera del Duero – is obviously the most famous DO in the region. The Duero river alters the extremes of climate of this hot, and arid region that is susceptible to intense hailstorms. It was named in 1985. success is due to excellent quality of the tinto fino that produces deep, fresh and elegant wines that have a solid structure.

Sheep, along with common porcupines (all of which are killed during their early years) serve as the principal local diet. Its delicious local dishes is accompanied by its delicious local black pudding and hams, are perfect with the wines. The vegetarians will benefit from Rueda and those who enjoy large charcuteries will have a blast in Toro.

Castilla la Nueva

About an hour’s drive south of Madrid is the huge DO La Mancha – so large that the principal wine grape, the white variety called the airen, is the world’s number single grape varietal. Its production is huge however, of the central meseta region in Spain the climate is just too harsh to produce wines with a high level of quality (hence it’s relatively young Vinos de Pago DOs) and the region is therefore geared towards the volume of production and low prices.

The Valdepenas DO is situated near the southern end the southern tip of La Mancha and really is in reality as a “valley of stones. Cencibel is the king here producing quality, affordable wines. Beyond that, there’s obviously Don Quijote as well as Manchego cheese. But in such a vast, constantly empty area, it’s not surprise that the first went insane and the latter offers little to no actuality.

A complete country and trading empire before their uneasy and insecure incorporation into Spain This autonomy consists of the provinces of Barcelona Gerona/Girona/ Lerida/Lleida, Gerona, and Tarragona. There is a lot to be said about the Catalans who are hard-working and creative, who speak their native language (a hybrid of ancient French as well as Spanish) as well as whose society is, above all, collective and focused on group activities – for example, dancing (the sardanafor instance) or their love of making humans’ castles (castells) during fiesta time.

Culinary delights include butifarra (a sort of boudin blanc/white pudding) and calcots (chargrilled babies spring onions) served with the romesco (a pure mixture of ground almonds, tomatoes as well as olive oil) as well as the sobrassada (an unctuous, orange-colored, spreading, chorizo like look) and of course the all-time favourite tomaquet or pan con tomate it is just an uncooked baguette that is cut in two , rub-baked with raw garlic coated with olive oil and then into which ripe beef tomato is rubbed in – but oh, how one doubts the method by the manner in which this is done since each person has their own strongly held theories!)

Principal DOs:

Alella located just 20 minutes to the north of central Barcelona was first awarded DO recognition in. is the second-smallest DO within the Spanish peninsula. In addition to producing Cava it also has pansa blanca, the pansa blanche variety (a distant relative to the xarel-lo) and produces a dazzlingly colorful and distinctive white wines.

Penedes 30 minutes to the to the west from Barcelona is the center of Spain’s Cava industry. It’s still white wines are produced from the same trifecta of grapes from the local area macabeo, parellada, macabeo and the xarel-lo along with chardonnay. are generally crisp, refreshing and short-lived.

The reds that are typically comprised of tempranillo and garnacha, carinena the franc cabernet, and merlot, tend to be dry and tannic.

Priorat(o) Priorat(o) – on the contrary, initially granted DO status in the year 1954 It is located an hour to the south of Tarragona province. It is home to distinctive, highly fragrant reds that are made of blackberry-flavoured garnachathat is that is grown on pure schist (or Llicorella) and frequently adorned with cabernet, carinena, the merlot, and syrah. A few scrumptious whites with a unique aroma are also produced made from garnacha Bbanca, xarel-lo, ximenez and, sometimes, extremely old super lemony macabeo as well.

Montsant is located immediately to the south. It has similar varieties, however it is grown on totally different soil , which results in more spicier varieties.

Costers del Segre located immediately to the north of the province of Lerida/Lleida, which is to the west of the backbone mountainous which forms the northern border of Priorat(o) is comprised of three distinct regions. It has, in the past decade, largely thanks to its efforts by Tomas Cusine, acquired a significant following due to its smooth elegant, sophisticated and minerally-scented reds primarily made from cabernet, tempranillo, and merlot. It also makes fresh sparkling whites.

The last DO worth noting, Emporda or in Spanish El Ampurdan is located situated in Girona province, which is just 20 kilometers less than France. The second-largest city in the province located in Figueras/Figueres hosts the fantastically circular Dali Museum and is also an excellent place to eat mushrooms. The stunning coastal cliffs are largely unspoiled. It is situated on slate and limestone soils and the help of a steady, all year round breeze (the Tramontana) there are two kinds of winemakers. Boutique wineries that produce expensive wines from imported grapes or growers that concentrate on vibrant reds and whites made from local varieties like macabeo, garnacha blanca and muscat for whites as well as soft, minerally driven reds that are made almost exclusively made from carinena and garnacha.


This beautiful region is the natural geographic expansion of Portugal. About as big as Belgium It is comprised of 4 provinces: La Coruna, Lugo, Pontevedra and O(u)rense.

With its breathtaking Atlantic coastline, both west and north, it is a true fishing and shellfish paradise along its long coastline. But the interior, which only a few people go, is equally stunning with vast valleys rivers, mountains, and mountains large-flavoured cuisines that are based on pork as well as eating the customary slaughter (matanza) of pigs that are raised in the home.

Its language (gal(l)ego) has a mix from Portuguese along with Spanish with significant Celtic influences, probably because of a common fishing culture. It is evident in its deep-rooted music traditions that include bagpipes as well as country dancing.

However, it is an area of dampness in the globe, with more rain than Scotland and its huge forests – predominantly maritime pine and eucalyptus have made it the heart of significant wood-based industries, including chipboard as well as plywood. MDF was actually developed in the region.

Rias Baixas DO, the home of albarino is situated in five distinct sub-regions located along the west of the Atlantic coast. In its core, the Salnes Valley in Pontevedra, the wines are typically pure albarino that are planted on granite, and then cultivated with tall trellises to keep wineries cool and off the waterlogged soil. However, the region has expanded up into the Portuguese border, where additional grape varieties, like Loureiro (which is delicious and has a delicate rose-petal flavor) and trixadura (which has a distinct Catty Apple character) can be found in many different blends.

The albarino grape is so popular like that from maybe twenty wineries in the mid-80s, the number has increased to nearly 400. The albarino grape variety, in its natural/uninterfered-with state should taste of ripe, often baked, sweet apple, although perhaps due to the influence of the Atlantic, it can have an underlying flinty, spicy character.

As the bottle ages the wine begins to turn golden in color and acquires a distinct petrol flavor. Due to this, and possibly due to influences of the pilgrims who traveled from north Europe towards Santiago de Compostela, some have associated the grape with the winery riesling.

Galicia: The Interior

The DOs in the interior are Monterrei, Ribeiro, Valdeorras and Ribeira Sacra.

Ribeira Sacra (sacred riverbanks) located within Lugo Province devotes itself primarily to red wines that are made of the atypical mencia variety that is yet to be controlled. The most famous black variety in Galicia is very good with the meat-based dishes that are the most popular in the interior. It’s usually served in small saucers , or Tazas, and is referred to as Ribeiro the region that is most famous for its wine production. Perhaps what it does best is dry, light applesy whites made from trixadura that is often mixed with palomino.

Monterrei in contrast, which is located in a straight line to the east of Vigo and is located in the O(u)rense province. O(u)rense and is an DO that is practically Mediterranean in its climate, however, its southern , more intriguing sector is Atlantic and is so far to the south that it’s located in Portugal. The first Spanish colonists of California were from this region, bringing vines along with them. It is fascinating that this beautiful yet modest Galican region was named in Monterrey, CA.

Hereare a few producers that focus on dona Branca (a white wine that is all about lemons and featuring significant acidity) as well as treixadura and godello (unctuous peach and grengage). Together, they make great wines with body and delicate (honeyed lavender, almonds and lemony apples) that truly improve as they age in bottle.

In the final, easternmost central extremity, is Valdeorras the home of Spain’s most excellent godellos. This, with the proper care, can produce excellent whites.

La Rioja

The most well-known of Spanish wine-producing regions currently includes more than 600 wineries. The reason for its creation is because of the French who arrived in the latter part of the 19th century in order to escape phylloxera. They revolutionized the winemaking process with two famous bodegas Murrieta as well as Riscal, were awarded Marchioneses to honor their accomplishments. Before this invasion by the friendly people Rioja had traditionally produced white wines. Being the country’s most important fine-wine production zone, Rioja deserves a guide by itself.