For decades, only a couple of wines produced in Spain had an international presence. Over the last years though, Spain has undergone a massive wine revolution and is now producing an important number of excellent red and white, being second only to Italy and France. Let’s learn more about Spanish wines.

The bottle.
It is important to know how the bottle looks like. The wine labeling system is in fact pretty similar to those of France and Italy, and it can be tough to understand if you are not familiar with it.
It contains two important pieces of information: the quality system and the ageing.
The quality system is indicated by an abbreviation which refers to a specific category of wine: DOC, for instance, is the top of the Spanish wine quality pyramid and there are only two DOCs in Spain, Rioja and Priorat. Most of the other wines instead are referred to as DO, Denominación de Origen.
Each label also contains the indication of aging: Gran Reservas are the wines which have been cellared the longest, Jovens the shortest.

The wines.
The most important wines come from a restricted number of regions:

  • Rioja, in north-central Spain, has always been the country’s major wine region. Famous for its red wines, it also offers rosado and white wine. Its principal grape is Tempranillo, which is also the Spain’s greatest red variety, typically blended with other popular varieties like Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (Carignan), and Mazuelo.
    Interestingly, according to the style used by winemakers, wines of Rioja might be either “traditional” or “modern”. ‘Traditional’ wines are aged in American oak barrels and have a vague taste of coconut. ‘Modern wines’, aged in French oak barrels, have a light vanilla flavor.
  • Ribera del Duero, 200 km north of Madrid, is one of the most dynamic wine regions. It is famous for many varieties of red wines: besides Tempranillo, Tinta del Paìs is one of the most famous grape. Others wines which are worth a mention are Albillo, Malbec and Merlot.
  • Priorato is a small, mountainous and hot region of red wines, in North-East Spain. Its wines are intense, powerful and muscular, made from varieties of Garnacha and Carignan. If you are looking for amazingly rich wines, this is the place you should head to.
  • Rìas Baixas is a region of Galicia, on the western coast, particularly famous for its white wines. There is one variety which has made it popular and successfull, its name is Albariño, cultivated only in this area, with a unique and strong flavor.
  • Penedés is in Catalonia, South of Barcelona. Characterized by a lot of international grapes, its most notable wine is the sparkling Cava. It can be white or rosé and it is usually a blend of Xarel-lo, Macabéo, and Parellada grapes. What makes it even more appealing is the price, absolutely affordable!

So, which one would you like to try?

 Giovanni Nuccio