The diversity in Spanish winemaking is incredible, you can go from the relatively small wine producing region of the Canary Islands to Ribera del Duero and feel like you’re in a different country. The landscape of the Spanish wine scene ticks all the boxes and can provide everything you will ever need; from full-bodied food friendly reds, to elegant crisp whites. Spanish winemakers are discovering new styles that are turning heads in the trade.
We have taken a closer look at some things you might not have known about the Spanish wine scene.
Spanish wine was the Romans’ favourite tipple
Wine has been produced in Spain since the first century AD. The Roman historian Pliny the elder raved about wines made from the area known today as Alella, which is 20 minutes from Barcelona, Catalonia.
Spain has 78 sub-regions of wine across 17 provinces of the country, including the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. They are classified as Denominación de Origen (DO) and Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC). Both denote that wineries meet strict requiremenets to produce winbe, with the DOC designation being the highest quality. Unlike DO or DOC, which is applied to an entire wine region, Vino de Pago is a classification for Spanish wine applied to individual vineyards or estates.
There are over 400 grape varieties
Over 15% of the world’s vineyards are in Spain, making Spain the number one ranked country in the world in terms of area covered by vineyard. The bulk of the production comes from Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell, Albariño, Palomino, Airen, Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello. There are also many lesser known varietals, such as Gual, Marmajuelo and Vijariego from the volcanic island of Tenerife.
Cava isn’t just from Catalonia
Most people know that Cava is the main Spanish sparkling wine, which utilises the traditional method of production (same as Champagne). Although 95 percent of Cava production comes from Catalonia where it originated in the late 19th century, it can also be produced in Aragon, Castile and Leon, Valencia, Extremadura, Navarra, Basque Country and Rioja.
La Rioja – 1,000 years of history
The first mention of the name Rioja (pronounced ree-oh-hah) in official documents as a wine producing region dates back to 1092, while during the same time, King Garcia Sanchez I donated lands to the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla, which included the vineyards. Monks and monasteries played an important role in wine production all across Spain after lands were reconquered from the Moors.