Wines of Spain

Spain… the name itself heightens the senses.  Rich in traditions, culture, wine and food, Spain has the history that impacted so many countries worldwide. With the most land plated with grape vines, Spain tops out at third place in production, after only Italy and France.  Throughout history, Spain has seen its share of up and down; war and natural disasters took turn devastating the wine landscape.  Over and over again, Spain not only bounced back but also emerged as one of the top wine producing countries in the world, both in quantity and quality.

Alejandro Fermandez Dehesa La Granja 2000

Wine to the Spanish is nothing short of a love-affair.  A meal without wine only takes place in the morning, known as breakfast.  Wine is an everyday thing, from a lunch snack to dinner table.  Everyone is Spain at some point in life will want to own a vineyard and a Bodega (winery).  As long as there’s land, vines will eventually find their its into a glass.  Although Spain is a relatively small country, regional climates could shift drastically making home for an array of different grape varietals both native and international.  Northwest of Spain is much cooler compared to the rest of the country with heavy coastal influences, moving further towards Southeast and it shifts to sub-tropical & Mediterranean climate.

Spain wine map

Major Regions

Rioja is undoubtedly the capital of Spanish wine.  This is where Tempranillo rules the land, known as Tempranillo in Rioja, but the name changes from region to region: Tinta do Toro (Toro), Tinto Fino & Tinto del Pais (Ribera Del Duero), Ull de Llebre (Catalunya) and Cencibel (La Mancha),  Often compared to Bordeaux of France, Tempranillo has the taste, flavors and complexity to rival some of the best there are.  But Spanish wine is much more than just Rioja, cool weather from the Northwest gives way for Spain most celebrated white wine, Albarino – a perfect match for the region that is known for succulent seafood.  Sparkling wine, Cava, finds its home on the far North-East hugging the coast of the Mediterranean sea.   Sweet fortified wine, Sherry from the South could melt any palate. 

Beronia Rioja Reserva 2005

Classification & Regulation

The Spanish wine governing body shares many similarities with those of Italy and France.  Denomicacion de Origen (DO) consists of more than 40 areas while the Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC) only has 2 members: Rioja and Priorat.  In Catalunia, where Priorat locates, the DOQ is the equivalent of DOC. Ribera del Duero is on the rise, it is next in line for this prestigious designation.

Spain takes wine aging seriously, although quite easy to understand.  Lower quality grapes are made into inexpensive everyday wines, while higher quality ones will turn into age-worthy wine that can last up to decades.  From lower to higher quality, wine can be labeled as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

Thomas Le, CS.

 

 

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Thomas Le

-Certified Sommelier (CMS)

Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM

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