Spanish Wine Regions

Rioja

 

The Denominacion de Origen (DO) is located in Rioja, Basque Country, Navarra

  • Large area known for red and some whites
  • Three sub zones: Alta,  Alavesa, and Baja
  • Most densely planted area in Spain
  • Classic wine region that led the way
    • Brought French influence in 19th century
  • Most famous Spanish wine region internationally
  • DO created in 1925 (1st)
  • DOCa since 1991
  • 65,000 hectares
  • More than 600 wineries
  • Main grape: Tempranillo
  • Also: Garnacha, Mazuelo, Graciano
  • Experimental grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Mild climatological conditions: Atlantic influence

Assessment:  huge player in industry.  Lots of mediocre wine though good value and good quality wines abound. Somewhat of a stylistic identity crisis as the older traditional styles are pitted against the more modern styles that have become more popular.  Large range of styles without label indication can lead to confusion amongst consumers.

 

Castilla Leon

Huge area with five important DOs

  • DO Ribera del Duero
  • DO Rueda
  • DO Toro
  • DO Bierzo
  • DO Cigales

Also very important is the production of Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Leon

DO Ribera del Duero

  • DO since 1982
  • Considered to produce some of the finest red wines in Spain
  • Trendy and fast-growing areas
  • Prices can be quite high
  • Wines can be over-oaked
  • 8,000 ha of vineyards and over 200 wineries.
  • Main grape variety:  Tinto Fino, a variant of Tempranillo
  • Climate: Continental with some Med influences
Very popular, especially in Madrid.  Climate gives very intense wines with great fruit and tannins…current trends in wine-making as led to some excessive oaking practices.  Can be very pricy and not always good value, but with careful selection, these are outstanding wines.

DO Rueda

  • Small wine region (6000ha) with 36 wineries
  • White wines from Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Created in 1980 for whites
  • Since 2001 open to reds (but few if any)
  • The wines are attractive modern, cold-fermented whites, usually un-oaked
  • Now a percentage are barrel fermented
  • The climate is wind-swept continental
Fantastic value whites that are ubiquitous throughout Spain.  Very consistent. at all price points.  Some of the oaked one can be over-oaked but that has been better in recent years.  The un-oaked ones are unbelievable value for money.

DO Toro

  • Gained fame over last ten years
  • Powerful red wines with big tannins and fruit
  • Some good value wines, but many more expensive now
  • Small DO created in 1987: 34 wineries
  • Main varietal: Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo)
  • Extreme continental climate
Super intense wines…like Ribera, but more so.  Better value than Ribera del Duero for those who like them.

DO Bierzo

  • “Gateway to Galicia”: Currently high profile
  • Small red and white producing area
  • DO created in 1988: 39 wineries
  • Main grapes: Mencía (red) and Godello (white)
  • Mild climate
Excellent reds form Mencia and whites from Godello.  Can be good value though prices have risen due to recent popularity and small production.

 

Cataluña

  • Huge region with 12 DOs with many climatic and geographic variations
  • 1999: a regional DO called DO Cataluña
  • Strongest on whites but also great reds
  • Widespread use of indigenous varieties
  • Widespread use of international varieties
  • 90% of Cava produced here
  • Key in spread of modern equipment and techniques
  • All of the DOs are improving dramatically
Great wines!  Can be pricy compared to other Spanish regions.

DO Penedés

  • Important DO since 1960:  150 wineries
  • Important innovator in wine
  • Center of Cava production
  • Also elegant whites and reds

DOCa Priorat

  • Small, exclusive DO since 1954: 26 wineries
  • Very expensive wines
  • Crisis times hav eled to some more reasonably priced entry-level wines
  • Famous for huge, mineral red wines:  very distinctive aromas
  • Unique slate soils: licorella
  • Use of Garnacha and Cariñena with French varieties

DO Montsant

  • Best wine similar wines to Priorat…less expensive
  • Lesser wines are lighter style
  • Can be excellent value

DO Terra Alta

  • Still rustic at times…similar potential to Priorat or Montsant

DO Alella

  • Tiny coastal DO: mostly known for whites

DO Apurdán-Costa Brava

  • Small coastal DO known traditionally for rosados

DO Concá de Barbera

  • Medium size interior DO used as source for cava wines

DO Costers de Segre

  • Small interior DO used a source for cava wines
  • Dominated by one big producer:  Raimat

DO Plá de Bagés

  • Tiny interior DO known for crisp whites

DO Tarragona

  • Large coastal/interior DO makes a wide variety of wines
  • Big range in quality

 

Castilla La Mancha

  •  Huge region: one of the biggest in the world
  • 8 DOs:  more being created
  • 8 Vinos de Pago or single estate appellations
  • Very hot region producing Mediterranean style red wines
  • Very good value and improving quality
  • Lots of jug wine still!
  • Very good regional wine category Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla

DO La Mancha

  • Enormous DO making some good quality wine from Tempranillo

DO Valdepeñas

  • Very large DO making traditional wines from Tempranillo

Other DOs

DO Almansa, DO Manchela, DO Méntrida, DO Mondéjar, DO Riber del Júcar

DO Vinos de Madrid

  • Not technically La Mancha, but similar climate and similar wines
  • Improving rapidly
  • Best wines are expensive due to demand and small production
  • Some interesting old vine vineyards

 

Aragon

  •  Large region with 4 DOs
  • One is very high quality, the other three improving rapidly
  • Lots of jug wine still made here
  • Excellent climate for high quality wine

DO Somontano

  • Small, but growing DO with excellent quality
  • Rising prices
  • Elegant, racy wines from indigenous and especially international varieties

DO Calatayud

  • Medium DO still rustic but interesting old-vine Garnacha and cavas

DO Cariñena

  • Large DO making lots of jug wine and some interesting old-vine Garnacha

DO Campo de Borja

  • Medium DO with lots of old-vine Garnacha

 

Galicia

  •  Mild, wet region known for interesting whites and increasingly, reds
  •  5 DOs

DO Rias Baixas

  • Good quality, small DO making whites from Albariño
  • Humidity, rain, main challenges
  • No bulk wine allowed (sign of quality)
  • Wines can be pricy and quality can vary

DO Valdeorras

  • High quality small DO on border with Leon
  • Eastern, sheltered location gives more full-bodied whites and reds from Godello and Mencía

DO Monterei

  • Hot, sheltered, tiny DO makes mostly reds
  • Improving rapidly

DO Ribeiro

  • Small, coastal DO makes light, spritzy, blended whites

DO Ribera Sacra

  • Small DO making traditional Galician whites

 

Navarra and Basque Country

  •  One large DO and 3 tiny ones

DO Navarra

  • Large DO making some very good wines: 109 wineries
  • Use of a lot of indigenous and foreign grapes
  • Reputation built on rosés
  • Now many more interesting reds and whites
  • Cross between continental and Atlantic climate
  • Huge variety of styles can lead to confusion
  • Excellent prices for very good wines

DO Txacoli

  • Three separate DOs: Alava, Getaria, Vizcaya
  • Making vinho verde-style wines from local varieties
  • Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza
  • Most are easy-drinking quaffers, but a few more serious wines being made now

 

Valencia and Murcia

  • Large jug wine areas now making very interesting wines

Murcia:

3 DOs

DO Jumilla

  • Enormous DO with growing reputation for quality wines
  • Red, quality wines based on Monastrell
  • Lots of other varietals represented
  • Interesting dessert wines

DO Bullas

  • Small DO with higher altitude makes some interesting reds from Monastrell

DO Yecla

  • Medium DO similar to Jumilla

Valencia:

3 DOs

DO Valencia

  • Large DO making mostly insipid whites, but has potential for reds from Monastrell

DO Utiel Requena

  • Huge DO making lots of red jug wine
  • Very good red wines being made from Bobal

DO Alicante

  • Large DO traditionally know for sweet wines
  • Now making good reds from Monastrell

 

Extremadura

  •  Large DO (Ribera del Guadiana) making mostly jug wines
  • Good potential but little results
  • Best results in whites, though reds should be better
  • Many grapes varieties:  Tempranillo and Garnacha dominate

 

Balearic Islands

  •  Tiny production
  • Most wine made for local tourist consumption
    • Cheap and cheerful!
  • Some quality red wine made but quite pricy
  • Local varieties such as Callet, Fogoneu, Manto Negro are very interesting
  • Best wines are remarkably elegant and fresh considering hot climate

 

Canaries

  • Medium production made for tourist industry
  • Local varieties such as Listan negra y Blanca and Malvasia
  • Whites much better than reds, but reds improving

 

Andalucia

  • Mostly fortified wines, but some interesting table wines being made in Malaga and around Granada

DO Jerez

  • Large DO of 10,000 hectares
  • Makes of fortified white wines of in 15 styles, mostly dry
  • Grapes:
    • Palomino for dry sherries
    • Moscatel and PX for sweet wines
  • Non-vintage wines made in criadera and solera systems, fractional blending system
    • Like cava and champagne
    • To preserve house style
  • Finos and Manzanillas
    • Made in reductive style under protective “flor”
    • Dry and fresh
  • Amontillado
    • Aged Fino
    • Has oxidative notes plus freshness of Fino
  • Oloroso:
    • Solera without flor
    • Oxidized style:  nutty, brown
    • All start out dry:  some have PX added for sweetness
  • Palo Cortado
    • Rarest style
    • Cross between Oloroso and Amontillado
    • Has flor for short time
  • Sweet sherries
    • Moscatel and PX dried to raisins
    • Used as varietal wines and blenders

DO Montilla Moriles

  • Very similar wines to sherry but using PX as base wine
  • Whole range from Fino to sweet stickies

DO Malaga/Sierras de Malaga

  • Fortified dessert wines from Moscatel and PX

DO Huelva

  • Similar wines to Jerez

 

Cava

  •  A style DO, not geographic
  • Sparkling wine made in Champenoise style
  • Mostly white, some rosé
  • Second in sales in world after champagne
  • Cataluña:  90% of cava made here
  • Other provinces:  Rioja, Valencia, Extremadura, Aragon
  • Three traditional grapes:  Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel.lo
  • Other grapes:  Chardonnay, Monastrell, Pinot Noir
  • Tendency:  use of more French varieties
  • Minmum aging over lees before disgorgement: 9 months