Wines of Spain

Published: 2021-08-03 14:15:05
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Category: Spain Culture

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Yes, we knew all these but we overlooked the important point of how all these happened. Well, those who are unfamiliar with Spain’s wines and are interested to learn something new, are welcome to come along and discover the world of Spanish wines and their production history. What is Wine? Put very simply, wine is a drink made from the fermented juice of freshly-picked grapes. As such it is often described as one of the most natural of all alcoholic drinks. However, wine is more than just an alcoholic grape juice.
There are many influences on how a wine looks, smells and tastes which give a wide variety of styles. That variety will give a wide selection of wines to choose from in a bar, restaurant or shop. To be more specific, there are three types of wine: light, sparkling and fortified wine. Each one of them can be made in a variety of styles according to the color (red, white and rose) and the taste (dry, medium, sweet). History of Spanish Wine Wine has touched many of history’s greatest events. For centuries, wine has been the drink of choice of poets, novelists, playwrights, artists, and composers.
It is unclear precisely where vines were first cultivated in Spain or who brought the winemaking techniques. Various sources believe the first vineyards were cultivated on the southwest coast of Andalusia. As the years gone by, the Romans continued to produce wine in this area, introducing their own particular techniques over time, for example, the ageing in small clay amphorae in sunlit attic areas or next to chimneys. According to contemporary accounts these wines acquired floral and fruity aromas and flavours and an appreciated smoky taste.
In the 8th century, the arrival of the Arabs slowed the winemaking development as the Koran prohibited the consumption of alcoholic and fermented drinks. Despite this religious prohibition, the cultivation of vineyards continued as certain dynasties were liberal in their treatment of the dominated Christians and allowed them to continue making wine, particularly in the monasteries. Spanish winemaking really prospered after the conquest of Spain by the Catholic Kings. The re-established religious monasteries and communities played a major role in this process..
After the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19 century, France imported wines from Spain to make up the local shortfall. The wines were not as French expected them to be and so French winemakers went to Spain and introduced their winemaking techniques which included aging in oak barrels. But instead of choosing French oak barrels, Spanish winemakers chose American oak which can create a stronger flavor to the wine. For the last few years, Spanish winemakers were trying to place Spain on an equal level with winemakers as good as the Italians and the French by renovating their winemaking processes.
Lately, the gross human apparent annual consumption of wine in Spain has been and stands currently at 22 liters per capita. The total domestic use is expected to continue declining as producers still keep increasing sales of wine to export markets. Data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs and based on a research of 12,000 households, indicates that the consumption of wine in households increased by 7 % in the year to November 2012. However total household expenditure with the same products increased only by 2 %.
According to wine industry specialists this means people are buying more wine in supermarkets as the economic crisis makes them turn to drink wine inside the household. Furthermore, it means that consumers are more price-sensitive and prefer less expensive products. Chart 2. Consumption by Households, Spain (2012/2011) Chart 3. Value of Household Consumption of Wine, Spain Spanish Grape Varieties Today Spain has more than 146 acknowledged wine varieties which make Spain one of the most varied wine cultures in the world.
At this point we are going to see alphabetically some of the most common Spanish varieties. * Spanish Red Grape Varieties Alicante, Bobal, Callet, Carinena, Cencibel, Garnacha, Graciano, Juan Garcia, Listan Negro, Manto Negro, Mazuelo, Mencia, Monastrell, Moristel, Prieto Picudo, Tempranillo, Trepat * Spanish White Grape Varieties Airen, Albarino, Albillo, Caino, Dona Blanca, Garnacha Blanca, Godello, Hondarribi, Listan, Loureira, Macabeo, Malvasia, Moscatel de Alejandria, Palomino, Parellada, Pedro Ximenez, Torrontes, Treixadura, Verdejo, Viura, Xarel-lo Ageing Classification System of Spanish Wines
Wines are classified according to the amount of time they have spent ageing in the winery, meaning that they are not sold until they are ready to drink. * Crianza Any bottle with the word “Crianza” on the label, the Spanish word for ‘ageing’, means that the wines have spent at least two years at the winery before being sold, with at least one of those years spent in oak barrels. Crianza wines can be identified by their cherry red back label. The wines are still young, fresh and juicy with cherry and strawberry fruit flavours typically found in wines made using Tempranillo grapes, along with hints of vanilla and spice from the oak barrels. Reserva These wines are made from select grapes and have spent longer ageing at the winery than Crianza wines. They spend at least one year in oak barrels, a further two years at the winery and are only released for sale when they have reached optimum maturity. Reserva wines have a deep red back label. The flavors in these wines are more complex, with lots of layers and more depth. They often have an explosion of aroma and taste sensations that continue to evolve in the mouth. Gran Reserva Gran Reserva wines are only made in the best vintages using the finest grapes.
They must spend at least five years in the winery, including two years in oak barrels and three years’ maturation in the bottle. Gran Reserva wines are identified by a teal blue back label (previously brown red). They are the classic and often the most traditional Rioja wines, ranking amongst the finest wines in the world. Quality Classification System of Spanish Wines The mainstream quality wine regions in Spain are referred to as Denominaciones de Origen (similar to the French Appellations) and the wine they produce is regulated for quality according to specific laws. * Estate Wines (Vinos de Pago)
This is one of the innovations found in the Vineyard and Wine Act. It is the highest established category for a wine, and comprehends wines of recognized prestige made from grapes grown under climatic and soil conditions distinctive to a certain ‘place’ or ‘rural site’. The production and marketing of these wines must comply with a comprehensive quality control system that must, as a minimum, fulfil the requirements applied to a Qualified Denomination of Origin. Further, these wines must be made and bottled in the winery of the specific vineyard or within the municipal area where that vineyard is located.
In cases where the entire vineyard is located within the boundaries of a Qualified Denomination of Origin, and is registered under that designation, it will be allowed to receive the name of “qualified vineyard,” and the wines produced there shall be labelled as ‘qualified vineyard wines’. * Qualified Denomination of Origin Wines – QDO (Vinos de Denominacion de Origen Calificada – DOCa) This category is reserved for wine that has achieved high levels of quality over a long period of time. The first designated wine to enter this class was Rioja, in April 1991.
The requirements that must be fulfilled to attain this status include the following: Denomination of Origin (DO) status for at least the previous 10 years; all products must come to market bottled in wineries located in the region where they are produced or which follow a suitable quality control system imposed by their monitoring and regulating body. * Denomination of Origin Wines – DO (Vinos de Denominacion de Origen – DO) Wines bearing the DO distinction are prestigious Spanish wines produced in a specific production area and are made according to the parameters governing quality and type.
Each DO must be regulated by a Governing Body (Consejo Regulador) that is responsible for ensuring the use of grapes of the authorized varieties, and compliance with parameters governing production per hectare, approved methods of wine making and ageing times. In order for wines to be given Denomination of Origin status, the production area is required to have been recognized over at least the previous five years as a region producing quality wines with a geographical indication. Quality Wines with a Geographical Indication (Vinos de Calidad con Indicacion Geografica)
This is another category established for the first time in the Vineyard and Wine Act. It designates wines made in a certain region using grapes grown in that same region whose quality, reputation or characteristics are due to the ‘geographic environment’, the human factor or both, as regards the production of the fruit and the making or ageing of the wine. * Vino de la Tierra (VdlT) “Country wines” which do not have EU QWPSR status but which may use a regional name. There are currently 46 Vino de la Tierra regions in Spain. Vino de Mesa (Table Wine) is bulk-grown, usually drawn from a wide variety of regions and hence has no vintage or area designation on the label, apart from “Produce of Spain”. Production of this low grade of Spanish wine is falling year on year. In the following map you can see 69 Protected Designations of Origin (PDO, Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas), 14 Estate Wines (Vinos de Pago) and 7 Qualified Estate Wines (Vinos de Calidad). The second map is detailing the 41 Spanish Protected Geographical Indications (Indicaciones Geograficas Protegidas) or Country Wines.
DOCa Wine Regions Rioja, Spain’s oldest and most famous wine region became it was the first to receive the DO classification when the system was set up in 1926. And when the system was refined in 1991, Rioja became the first region to be promoted to DOCa status. The Spanish grape variety Tempranillo is king in Rioja. Other grapes such as Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo are used for blending, but Tempranillo takes always the center stage. The wines range from delicate and light to big and alcoholic.
The Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean’s influences combined with the mountain formations create a special and favourable environment for the vines there. It is these conditions, with varied soil types and complex topography, which set Rioja to the top of the Spanish wine regions. Priorat DOCa is best known for its powerful red wines, made predominantly from old-vine Garnacha grapes, sometimes with the addition of Carinena. Priorat is quite remote and rocky with the unique terroir, which combines the poor llicorella soil with a range of mesoclimates created by the sheltering influence of the nearby mountain ranges.
The principal varieties grown there continue to be Garnacha and Carinena. But, there have been successful experiments with international grapes such as Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, DO Wine Regions There are over 70 designations of origin to classify all the types of Spanish wines. The purpose of this is to unify all the wines from one part of Spain, that typically have common characteristics due to being produced under the similar weather and the types of water and soil.
This makes it easier for customers to know what wine they’re buying, and it also provides a guide of some sort to identify all the different Spanish wines. * Castile-La Mancha Found in the middle/southeast of Spain, is known all around the world for being the setting for the famous novel Don Quixote, written by Miguel de Cervantes. It is also home of the largest vineyard in the world and Spanish wine region, approximately 8% of the world’s wine production takes place here. * Andalucia
Composes most of the south of Spain, and it’s the heart of many renowned Spanish traditions. The most important designation of origin in Andalusia is the Jerez DO, under which the famous andalusian sherry is produced. * Aragon Lies in the northeast of Spain, its northern frontier touching the Pyrenees. From the verdant valleys surrounding the Ebro to the rocky terrains and permanent glaciers near the Pyrenees, Aragon’s variety of climates produces very different wines. For example, Cava DO. Sherry Sherry is a fortified wine (15-20% alcohol) from Spain.
It comes in a range of styles from bone dry to lusciously sweet. It is primarily made from the grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel, depending on the style. Sherry comes from the region of Andalucia in southeastern Spain. It comes from 3 towns: Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Barrameda. These 3 towns make up what is known as the “Sherry Triangle”. Sherry styled wine is also produced in Montilla-Moriles in the southern part of the province of Cordoba, from the Pedro Ximenez grape. * Styles of Sherry
Fino: served chilled, bone dry, pale and nutty in flavor great with olives, jamon & seafood Manzanilla: served chilled, an especially light stlye of Fino from Sanlucar de Barrameda Amontillado: served chilled, amber in color with an intense nutty, toasty flavor Oloroso: dark, savory and rich, pairs well with dry fruits, game, red meats and cheese Palo Cortado: the rarest of sherries, has the richness of oloroso with the crispness of an amontillado Cream: a blend of dry and sweet sherries, on the sweeter side, pairs with desserts and cheese Moscatel & Pedro Ximenez (or PX): dark and sweet, great with sweets and strong cheese Cava
Cava is the famous Spanish sparkling wine made from native grape varieties and should not be regarded as cheap Champagne. Only two wines in Spain are not legally required to carry the words DO on the label and Cava is the first, the other being Sherry. Not really a region, Cava is a unique category on its own. While 95 % of Cava wine is grown in the vineyards in and around Penedes, sparkling wine has been produced for decades in other areas such as such as Valencia, La Rioja and Aragon. Wine Tourism in Spain Spain’s distinct wine regions have the geologic features, a microclimate and soil composition that separate it from neighboring areas.
That gives travelers the opportunity to choose from guided package tours to self-guided tours throughout the different wine regions. The guided packaged tours typically include transportation, winery visit, meals, accommodations and sometimes sightseeing. Travelers can also enjoy private wine tastings, urban walking tours, two gourmet meals per day and accommodation options ranging from luxury hotels to country inns. These wineries require advance booking for package deals that include a tour, wine tasting and a meal or accommodation. As of 2011, entrance fees to Spanish wineries average around 6 to 8 €.
At most wineries, this cost includes both a tour and wine tasting. Some wineries also offer traditional food along with the wine for a few additional euros. Conclusion The upshot of all this is that we gave you a very brief introduction to Spain’s wine history, its wine regions, classification systems and special wines. Although none of this information was deeply analyzed in this report, they gave a significant amount of knowledge and ultimately introduced you to the Spanish wines and their production history. Recommendations These findings challenged me to taste some Spanish wines.
After an enthusiastic research and some professional recommendations, I was able to choose the following wines: * Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 Marques de Caceres A blend of a 15% mix of Graciano and Garnacha Tinta and 85% Tempranillo, this wine is only made in ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ vintages. It undergoes nearly two-and-a-half years of ageing in highest quality oak barrels, followed by further ageing in bottle before release. Dark red colour with intense bouquet of fruits that open out with a very refined oak in the background.

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