Spain’s vineyards cover more land than in any other wine producing country, yet this country is ranked fourth in quantity worldwide.
This is simply because yields are kept low by design and the arid climate.
Spain doesn’t short change wine drinkers looking for great wines, especially reds, and terrific values.
The country has now more than 65 different appellations and counting, as every year new additions are made.
Of all Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Penedes, Priorat, Monsant, Jerez, Bierzo, Rias Baixas, and Navarra are best known, and produce fine red wines at reasonable cost.
Jerez is best known for its Sherries, thanks to English merchants.
Rias Baixas is now starting to make a name for itself with fresh, crisp, white wines.
Winery managers invest a lot of effort and funds into modern equipment and vineyard management in an attempt to improve quality.
Spain’s best red wine grape variety is tempranillo, but now many winemakers are including cabernet sauvignon in their blends, as well as garnacha (aka grenache), monastrell (mourvedre) and other indigenous but less known varieties.
Spain’s labelling laws dictate three aging classifications, in addition to “vino joven” or “sin crianza” and neither of which requires any aging in barrel or bottle.
Crianza labelled wines must be aged for a minimum of two years, of which six months must be in oak.
Crianza whites and roses one year aging, six months in oak.
Reserve reds, three years, of which one year must be in oak.
Reserve whites and roses two years, of which six months must be in oak.
Gran reserva reds must be aged five years, 18 months of which must be in oak.
Gran reserva whites and roses four years, of which six months must be in oak.
It is important to remember that in North America, reserve, vintner’s reserve, winemaker’s selection or family reserve means nothing. These are simply gimmicks, while any of the terms mentioned in Spain is controlled by official agencies.
Spanish red wines age well, especially those of successful vintages, but here again, climatic conditions so far have been reliably stable.
Spanish wines represent good value, as suitable land is still reasonably priced, labour costs less, and wineries must export. Locals drink local- and inexpensive wines, and mostly produce themselves for home use.
Here are some of the better known and reliable wineries –
Bodegas Vega Sicilia, Bodergas Los Astrales, Bodegas Emilio Moro ( All in Ribera del Duero); Marques de Riscal, Bodegas y Vinedos Valderiz, Bodegas Bhilar, Bodegas Obalo, CUNE, Bodegas Faustino, Bodegas Palacios Remondo (all in Rioja); Bodegas Ordonez, Bodegas Gil Luna (Toro); Portal de Monsant (Monsant); Adegas Gran Vinum (Rias Baixas); Bodegas Borsao (Campo de Borja); Clos de L’Obac, Clos Mogador (Priorat); Torres, Freixenet, Perelada (all in Penedes);Bodegas Hidalgo, Williams and Hubert, Bodegas Barbadillo, Emilio Lustau, Delgado Zuleta, Gonzalez Byass (all in Jerez).