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Spanish Wines

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Regions of Spain    Top Varietals    Wine Labels Decoded    Good to Know

 

Map of Regions of Spain

Regions of Spain

Andalucia Region     Duero River Valley Region     Ebro River Valley Region     Meseta Region     Mediterrainean Coast Region

 
 

Ebro River Valley

Ebro River Valley Map

Iconic Rioja is found here, the traditional home of many of Spain’s finest wines.  Rioja contains three climactically different sub-zones that get warmer in the eastern portion. Most producers will source grapes from different areas to maintain consistency and quality.    

Most red Rioja are blends based primarily on Tempranillo, with Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano as well as small amounts of international varieties as options.  Classic riojas have muted fruit and an obvious oak influence, with modern versions showing richer fruit and more extracted flavours.  

Rioja also makes a small proportion of white and rosé wines. Aging classifications in Rioja have stricter requirements then most other regions.  Also found in the Ebro River Valley are value-driven Cariñena and Calatayud, both focusing on wines primarily from Garnacha or Tempranillo.                

Select Ebro River Valley Wines

Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja DOCa
Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja DOCa
Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva Rioja DOCa
Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva Rioja DOCa
Anciano Old Vines Garnacha; Calatayud DO
Anciano Old Vines Garnacha; Calatayud DO




Duero River Valley

Duero River Valley Map

Ribera del Duero, meaning the “Banks of the River Duero” is another famous region with high quality wines from the Tempranillo grape. With higher elevation, the very warm days are balanced by cool nights, slowing down the ripening process to create rich and ripe wines with ample dusty tannins. 

Like Rioja, the aging classifications are stricter here than in other regions of Spain. Also within this area, Toro is known for rich and powerful wines made in an international style, and Rueda has crisp and elegant wines from the Verdejo grape, often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. 

Bierzo has wines based mainly on the Mencía grape, creating a different and unique style of wine often compared to Pinot Noir.  

Select Duero River Valley Wines

Cair Cuvee; Ribera Del Duero DO
Cair Cuvee; Ribera Del Duero DO
Rolland & Galarreta; Ribera Del Duero DO
Rolland & Galarreta; Ribera Del Duero DO
Beronia Rueda Verdejo DO
Beronia Rueda Verdejo DO




The Meseta

The Meseta Map

Found in the centre of Spain, The Meseta is an elevated plateau that is home to both inexpensive blends, and many of Spain’s top Vinos de Pago.

With both warm weather and higher elevation, the nighttime temperatures drop off to ensure the wines retain some acidity. 

Castile–La-Mancha is the largest autonomous region under vine. There are many good value Vinos de la Tierra Castilla that can be found from this region.

 

Select Meseta Wines

Volver Single Vineyard, La Mancha DO
Volver Single Vineyard, La Mancha DO
Castillo de Almansa Reserva, Almansa DO
Castillo de Almansa Reserva, Almansa DO




The Mediterranean Coast

The Mediterranean Coast Map

Penedes, the source of 95% of the Cava produced in the country, is found just south of Barcelona.

Made in the traditional method with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, Cava is a blend of three indigenous grape varieties; Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada.   

Priorat, a rediscovered region renowned for old vines Garnacha, is the crown jewel of the area with ripe baked fruit and spice characteristics.

Rich red wines from Valencia, Almansa and Jumilla are common on the Liquor Mart shelves, offering excellent value.     

Select Mediterrainean Wines

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat Priorat DOQ
Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat Priorat DOQ
Mas La Plana Miguel Torres, Penedès DO
Mas La Plana Miguel Torres, Penedès DO
El Petit Bonhomme, Jumilla DO
El Petit Bonhomme, Jumilla DO




Andalucía

Andalucia Map

This hot, arid and rugged area is responsible for one of the great fortified wines of the world - Sherry.  Unlike most other fortified products, Sherry can be dry, or it can be sweet.  There are two major types of Sherry.   

Fino Sherries are  typically dry,  light, crisp and delicate, with distinctive almond notes.  Oloroso Sherries are usually sweet, with toffee, orange rind and spice notes.

Between these two major classifications are a myriad of styles and age designations, providing many options for the consumer.   


Select Andalucia Wines

Tio Pepe Extra Dry Palomino Fino, Jerez DO
Tio Pepe Extra Dry Palomino Fino, Jerez DO
Noe Pedro Ximenez Muy Viejo, Jerez DO
Noe Pedro Ximenez Muy Viejo, Jerez DO

 

 

 

 

Top Varietals Heading


Tempranillo

Spain’s #1 red grape varietal, Tempranillo is responsible for many of the country’s most highly regarded wines. Flavours include cherry, strawberry, dried fig, tobacco and cedar. With its potential for ageing and a natural affinity for oak barrels, the fresh juicy fruit flavours change to deeper darker fruit, with leather and tobacco over time.

Garnacha Tinta

Known as Grenache in the rest of the world, this variety is dominant in Spain’s Northeastern corner and also grown along the Mediterranean coast. With fruit characteristics of strawberry and black cherry, anise and tobacco and hints of pepper, late-ripening Grenache can have high sugar levels that ferment to alcohol levels of 15%, adding both body and spice to the wine. Sometimes bottled as a single varietal, the grape is often blended with Tempranillo or other red grape varieties. Grenache is also the primary grape in many of Spain’s Rosado (rosé) wines.

Tempranillo Food Pairings:

Tempranillo is wonderful to pair food with, such as roasted or grilled red meats, roasted vegetables and hearty pastas.

Garnacha Tinta Food Pairings:

Red Grenache pairs well with barbecued beef stew and other braised dishes, and grilled lamb. Rosado can be paired with simple tapas dishes and charcuterie.

 

 

 

Verdejo

White wines from Rueda are based on this highly aromatic grape variety. The wines have crisp citrus notes, with herbs, fennel and hints of stone fruit. The wine is typically blended with Sauvignon Blanc, or Macabeo..

Viura (Macabeo)

Used as the main component in white wines from Rioja and as one of the varieties permitted in Cava, Macabeo can also be found along the Mediterranean coast. The wine is relatively neutral, with citrus, delicate wildflowers and stone fruits, with hints of bitter almonds. Exceptional examples can be aged into an aromatic and distinct wine, often with a few months of oak aging.

Verdejo Food Pairings:

Try it with grilled or sautéed white fish, pasta with pesto, or fish tacos.

Viura (Macabeo) Food Pairings:

When young and fresh, these wines match well with grilled chicken, shrimp and steamed mussels.

 

 


Cava is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method, with secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle. Most Cava is made in the Penedès region in Cataluña

  • Macabeo, Xarel-Lo, and Parellada are the primary grapes used. Rosado Cava can use Garnacha or Trepat, with the inclusion of a few other varieties. 
  • Minimum aging requirements are 9 months on the lees (the spent yeast cells), 15 months for Reserva and 30 months for Gran Reserva.  Many exceed these requirements.
  • Due to the time spent aging on the lees, Cava has notes of yeasty bread dough and toast – becoming more apparent the longer the wine is aged prior to disgorgement. 
  • Most Liquor Mart Cava is in a brut style, meaning that it is dry; the wines are lean and tart with crisp acidity.

Cava Food Pairings:

The potential for food pairings are numerous, from egg dishes to sushi, charcuterie and appetizers. It pairs very well with salty or deep fried food. Try it with potato chips, or oysters on the half shell.

Select Cava (Sparkling) Wines

Juve & Camps pinot Noir Brut Rosé, Cava DO
Juve & Camps pinot Noir Brut Rosé, Cava DO
Villa Conchi Brut, Cava DO
Villa Conchi Brut, Cava DO
Segura Vuidas Gran Cuvee Reserva, Cava DO
Segura Vuidas Gran Cuvee Reserva, Cava DO

 

 

 

Wine Labels Decoded heading

Wine Label Identification Map

Wines from Spain often come with terms on the label that indicates how long the wine has aged.  Each region has rules that are specific to that area for the amount of time required, with both Rioja and Ribera del Duero having the strictest and longest  requirements. 

The following are the terms used, in ascending order of age, with the time required in these two regions: 

  • Crianza:  aged for a minimum of 2 years, with at least  12 months in oak
  • Reserva:   aged for a minimum of 3 years, with at least 12 months in oak
  • Gran Reserva:  aged for a minimum of 5 years, with at least 2 years in oak.
Crianza Ageing  is 1 year in barrel and 1 year in bottle
Reserva Ageing  is 1 year in barrel and 2 years in bottle
Gran Reserva Ageing is 2 years in barrel and 3 years in bottle

 

Across all regions, Crianza’s represent the youngest wines, and Reserva’s are from better grapes and receive longer aging. 

Gran Reserva’s are made only in exceptional vintages. These wines spend an extended period of time in oak barrels and in the bodega (cellar) aging. When the wines are released, they are perfectly aged and ready for consumption. These represent some of the best values in Spain. 


 

 

 

Good to Know heading

Classifications

Spain has 17 administrative regions, all of which make some form of wine. The Spanish appellation system contains both Protected Designation of Origin wines, as well as Protected Geographical Indication wines.  
 
DOCa (Denominacion de Origen Calificada) Only two regions have currently attained this higher designation: Rioja and Priorat.There are various demanding rules and regulations governing aspects of viticulture, winemaking and aging. 
 
DO (Denominacion de Origen) This indicates the geographic region of origin and the basic style of the wine. There are various rules and regulations governing aspects of viticulture, winemaking and aging that are less exacting than the higher designation.
  
Vinos de Pago – this single estate classification was introduced in 2003. It was created for high-end wineries that were unable to claim a DO classification. The wines must surpass the requirements of the DO. They must show international critical praise and have a minimum of 10 years of quality production. 
 
Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT) falls within the Protected Geographical Indication category, similar to Italy’s IGT. The rules regarding viticulture and Vinification are less restrictive, and the regions are broader. 
 
 

Spanish Wine Facts

  • #1 - The most widely planted wine producing nation, with 1.17 million ha (hectares) under vine. (2016) (source)
  • #1 - Organic producer, at approx. 80 thousand ha (hectares) (source)
  • #1 - Wine exporter by Volume in 2017 with 22.1 million hl (hectolitres) (source)
  • 51.1% of production is red and rosé wines with 48.9% white.  
  • Spain has a wine heritage of at least 3000 years; vineyards were planted in today’s sherry region by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC.  However, it wasn’t until the end of the Franco Regime that spain’s winemaking industry has begun to embrace the technological advances the rest of the world made.  Today, it is a blend of modern advancements and traditional methods. 
  • Quality wines are focused on origin and typicity, but also on aging requirements specific to each DO. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva all denote extended aging in both barrel and bodega to provide consumers the best possible wines.