Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the world!
I lived in Spain for ten years, so even though it doesn’t run through my veins, it is my adopted homeland and this is where my passion for wine began.
And passion is something that the Spanish hold true, in everything, especially their wine.
When you take a sip of Spanish wine, it literally transports you. The mountains, the air, the history, the culture, the music and dancing, the food, the people- explosion! Like all excellent winemakers, they have reflected the heart and soul of the land in their wines.
Steeped in history and tradition, the wines are still made using age old processes but now young, pioneering winemakers are refining techniques alongside developing new ideas. Such ideas are harvesting at night to allow aromatic International white grape varieties to be produced. Plus blending of their Regional grapes varieties with these well-known International varieties (in some areas).
Also since 1999, they have been allowed to irrigate their vines as there is an obvious lack of rain throughout the summer. Therefore more varieties of grapes can be grown, especially more recognisable ones, and used for blending. Also, this irrigation improves the quality of their own Regional grapes.
Furthermore, it is now more common for winemakers to use more French oak, rather than American oak in their barrel ageing which has a huge impact on quality and flavour.
Spain produces fabulous aged reds, sparkling, crisp cavas, sherries and refreshing white and rosé wines. There is so much to choose from. With all this development and progression, however, they still hold onto traditional techniques, providing the consumer with a superb array of wines to discover.
The Cava is made via the same process as Champagne (the Traditional method), however different grapes are used. So even though the style is the same, the taste is completely different. I will write further information about sparkling wines and fortified wines (e.g. sherry) so watch the Wine Angel blog page for further updates.
The top two classified regions in Spain are Rioja and Priorato. These are known as DOC(Denominación de Origen Calificada).
It is also worth noting the ageing classifications. These range from Joven (young) to Gran Reserva. There are minimum requirements by law in Spain as to the length of time a wine must be aged, however these are usually completely exceeded!
It is interesting to know that the Gran Reservas aren’t necessarily the best, even though they are meant to be from the better vintages. They usually are the best of course! However, on a trip to Rioja, I tasted a much more superior Reserva wine from the same vintage and same vineyard?! This is a matter of personal taste and just shows you the effects of ageing and developing a wine. Get exploring!
- Joven is young wine. This is bottled in the year after the vintage.
- Crianza red wines need a minimum of two years ageing, six months of these in an oak barrel. Whites and rosé crianza wines must have been aged for a minimum of one year.
- Reservas are better wines, aged for a minimum of three years for red wines, one of which in an oak barrel. For whites and rosés, this requirement is two years, with six months in an oak barrel.
- Gran Reservas are usually the best and most expensive and are only produced in the best vintages. This classification is mainly only used for superb red wines, white ones are rare. They must be aged for a minimum of five years, two years in oak barrels and then the further time ageing in the bottle. Of course, these wines can and are aged for a lot, lot longer and can be kept in your cellar for many years after purchase.
See the main regions of Spain to find out more information on their Classic Styles, Main Grape Varieties and Must Tastes!