About Spanish Wine
If any wine producing country with such history of traditional wine making can boast of a complete rejuvenation of wine styles and image, then it has to be Spain! From the northern vineyards of Navarra, Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Penedes travelling south through the arid plains of La Mancha and down to the southern province of Andalucía, so much has changed.
There is a constant buzz of excitement within all the regions where a new dimension to wine production that has been evolving on a gradual basis for some time, is now having an impact upon the rest of the ‘wine world’. Far sighted Spanish wine growers growers realised with so much global activity taking place that without a new and fresh attitude towards wine making and better improved methods of marketing, there is a good chance of being left in the shadows!
Old traditional wine styles still exist in many places, particularly Rioja and through fashion change, other areas also with a long history of wine making such as Priorato, have emerged as ‘the new wine on the block’. Other more vibrant wine styles have appeared using ‘international grape varieties’ such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer and along with more indigenous varieties such as Verdejo, Airén and Albariño, prove they can not only exist side by side but also complement each other by providing a much greater selection of well made and interesting wines. The areas of Penedès and La Mancha have particularly entered this arena in spectacular fashion.
Spanish Wine Regions
This guide is focusing on the main wine regions from Spain. Discover our full guide on Sherry from Andalusia and browse a great selection of the fortified wine from various retailers in the UK.
Ribera del Duero
The name of this region reflects the style of the wines – big, full, powerful, strong ( Toro means bull in Spanish). Situated in north western Spain, not far from the Portuguese border, Toro lies in the province of Castilla Y Leon, next to the white wine region of Rueda.
Famous in the Middle Ages, as the Catholic stronghold against the Moors, Castilla Y Leon is a very historic region, with a winemaking tradition that dates back to Roman times. The climate is extreme with very hot summers, but similarly cold winters, and the heat of the summer means that the wines can reach very high alcohol levels.
It’s a red wine area, with the main grape being the Tinta de Toro, the local name for the Tempranillo. The other grape used is the Garnacha, and in addition to the reds, some Toro Rosado is produced, again from the 2 grapes.
The conditions in the region are geared towards high quality production, and in recent years Toro has been one of the leading Spanish wine regions for modern techniques, innovation and the pioneering of premium quality wine, with many new investors in the region, including the well-known international wine makers and producers Michel Rolland and Francois Lurton.
Grapes and wine styles – big, bold concentrated reds from the Tinta de Toro and Garnacha grapes.
Somontano means ‘under the mountain’, and this is exactly where this wine region is situated – nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, in the province of Aragon, and only about 6okm from the French border. It lies between the 2 famous regions of Rioja to the west and Catalonia to the east.
It’s a green and fertile area, protected by the mountains, with an almost alpine climate and mesoclimate, with mountain streams naturally irrigating the vines. The wines produced are extremely balanced in style, benefiting from the contrasting day and night time temperatures, and made from grapes grown on clay and limestone soils.
Somontano is one of the most modern and progressive of Spanish wine regions – it only achieved DO status in 1984; winemakers in this region explore different grape varieties and push for ever increasing quality. The movement to high quality production in this area was led by the establishment of the large co-operative that dominates the region, and has over 200 members. Much of the region is run by cooperatives now, rather than estate or private production.
Somontano produces red and white wines, from a combination of traditional and international varieties, and is increasingly recognised on the world stage. The wines are fresh, fruit –driven and modern in their approach. Reds range from the light, juicy local grape Morisel, to structured, fine Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons. White grapes are grown very successfully in the shelter of the mountains, with most of the production being from the Chardonnay, Macabeo and Gewurztraminer.
Grapes and styles:
- Whites – fresh, elegant, dry whites, with an aromatic edge, and citrus crispness, from chardonnay, Macabeo and Gewurztraminer
- Reds – harmonious, balanced, fruit-driven reds from Moristel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnacha and Syrah.
- Rose – some high quality Rose from the Garnacha grape.