A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life
To subscribe and be notified anytime we post a new article, enter your email address in the box below, then click on Subscribe Now.

Featured Wine Commentary

Similar Articles:

  1. GAMBAL-WORK WINERY
  2. 2018 HILLSIDE HOUSE SUNSET SOIRÉE WITH JIM CLENDENEN OF AU BON CLIMAT
  3. IS IT ROSÉ TIME?
  4. DOMAINE BALLOT-MILLOT – HISTORY, OLDER WINES & THE 2015 VINTAGE, AND TASTING NOTES ON THE 2015S
  5. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  6. A VISIT TO TYLER WINERY
  7. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2014
  8. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD AND QUINTA CRUZ
  9. RIDGE VINEYARDS & THE DROUGHT YEARS 2012-2015
  10. BONNY DOON VINEYARD: A PIONEER PRODUCER WHERE OLD IS NEW
  11. VISIT TO CALERA & NEW AND OLD WINES
  12. DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS
  13. TYLER WINERY
  14. MARIETTA CELLARS
  15. CHANIN WINE COMPANY & LUTUM WINES
  16. MASSICAN WINERY
  17. DOMAINE BALLOT MILLOT
  18. DOMAINE SAUMAIZE-MICHELIN
  19. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2013
  20. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  21. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  22. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  23. RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
  24. TYLER WINERY AND CHANIN WINE COMPANY
  25. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2012
  26. WORLD CLASS CENTRAL COAST WINERIES: New Releases From Calera, Domaine Eden, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, and Tablas Creek Vineyard
  27. BERNARD PORTET’S NEW WINEMAKING PROJECT, HERITANCE
  28. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  29. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  30. TYLER WINERY
  31. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2011
  32. DOMAINE DONATSCH
  33. THE COMPLETE(R) STORY
  34. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD & QUINTA CRUZ: TWO IN ONE
  35. THE BIG KAHUNA LINE UP
  36. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  37. AU BON CLIMAT & QUPÉ
  38. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN
  39. MOSEL VERSUS MONTRACHET
  40. JOSEPH SWAN: A CALIFORNIA WINE LEGEND
  41. SUMMERTIME IS ROSÉ TIME!
  42. IN PURSUIT OF BALANCE: A TRADE TASTING AND MORE
  43. SPRING HAS SPRUNG
  44. THE MAYACAMAS MOUNTAINS OF NAPA VALLEY & THREE PIONEER PRODUCERS
  45. STILL DON'T KNOW JURA? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING!
  46. THREE CRU CLASSÉ LADIES OF THE COTES DE PROVENCE
  47. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2010
  48. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  49. KUDOS FOR CALERA
  50. THE HOLY TRINITY OF WINERIES
  51. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN -- SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW
  52. RIDGE VINEYARDS - UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY
  53. The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups -- Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain?
  54. A Pair To Draw From – Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Quinta Cruz
  55. T FOR TWO – TABLAS CREEK AND TYLER TOO!
  56. Que Syrah, Syrah…Wherefore Art Thou?
  57. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2009
  58. Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?
  59. Under The Radar California Wines
  60. More 2009 Wines
  61. A Tale of Two California Wineries – One New, One Old
  62. There Was A Legacy
  63. Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain
  64. 2009 Beaujolais
  65. Lemmings to the Sea?
  66. 2009 Rosé
  67. Dom Pérignon in the Napa Valley
  68. A Burgundy Story
  69. A Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Retrospective Tasting
  70. Champagne or No?
  71. A Visit With Robert Lawrence Balzer -- Grand Ambassador of American Wine Culture
  72. Champagne -- The Wine of Kings

Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain

Greg McCluney • 9/3/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

Grape growing and winemaking in Spain need little introduction. Spain is an ancient wine-producing country second only to France and Italy in production. Spanish wine is at least 3,000 years old, with vines in the Sherry region planted around 1100 BC (although the Islamic Moors put a stop to it for nearly 800 years until their defeat in 1492).

But international recognition was slow to come to Spain. The Franco regime—which was rumored to have drunk mostly French wines—did nothing to rebuild the traditions or improve the quality; in fact, the regime retarded innovation and the development of modern winemaking techniques that had swept through the rest of Europe. For this reason, most American consumers have never tasted a Spanish wine and are confused by the labels and quality laws. Since the 1970s, though, there has been an influx of new thinking, equipment and winemaking.

The Wine-Growing Regions and D.O.s (Denominacion de Origen) of Spain

There are currently 73 official production areas, including 64 D.O.s and two D.O.C.s, which include Rioja and Priorat.

Green Spain

Situated in the extreme north and west of the country, green Spain is just that as a result of its proximity to the Atlantic, cooler temperatures and more rainfall than the rest of the country. Rias Baixas and Ribeiro in Galacia and Bierzo are regions of notable quality.

The Meseta

The hot and dry region of central Spain is home to some incredibly old vines and estates, especially where mountains break the plains. Very diverse, Castilla Leon in the north and La Mancha in the south are important areas.

Mediterranean Coast

A long and diverse coast makes for some of Spain’s most noted wines such as Priorat, Monsant and Penedes. And the famous sparkling wines of Spain originate in Cava.

Duero River Valley

Famous wines such as Vega Sicilia and Pesquera come from this region’s Riberadel Duero, as well as some impressive upstart wines from Toro and Rueda.

Andalucia

High summer heat in the most southerly region helps produce this area’s famous fortified (think Sherry) and dessert wines—even brandy. Local white wines are now being promoted as well.

Ebro River Valley

This mountainous region is well known for its important Rioja and Navarra. Further south, wines of high value are made from the Carinena. South of the Pyrenees Mountains brings us Somontano, where the exotic Moristel is made along with Tempranillo and some varietals, including Merlot.

The Islands

Spain’s seventh region includes the Canaries in the Atlantic and the Balearics in the Mediterranean Sea, offering moderate temperatures of the local harvests.

Spanish Destinations of Quality

2003, a new classification, D.O. Pago, was added to the laws of wine quality. Pago must be wine and fruit from a single estate, deemed one of Spain’s greatest, even though it may lie outside of any specific D.O. or D.O.C. Also in 2003, “VCIG” was added as a step between VT, the second-lowest quality level and the D.O. level. Vino de Mesa (table wine) is the lowest quality rating. D.O. is above VT, and then D.O.C., the highest, requires certification by a national committee. For the past 15 years, only Rioja was a D.O.C., but in 2003, Priorat was added as the second D.O.C. of the country.

Spanish Aging Criteria

Rather than just tell us how long and how a wine has been aged, the Spanish prefer to use these descriptors:

Javen: Young wines with little or no barrel aging

Crianza: Two years of age, one year in barrel

Reserva: Three years old, one in barrel

Gran Reserva: Five years old, two years in barrel

Discovering Spain

This is an exceptional time to explore and taste the wines of Spain. Seemingly, two paths of winemaking have emerged, according to Doug Frost, wine writer and Master of Wine. A few years ago, Frost authored a comprehensive guide to Spanish wines with individual tasting notes for Wines of Spain. As Frost sees it, the larger, international companies have embraced a softer, milder style of winemaking with wines made to be enjoyed young and with food. In Rioja, the granddaddy of Spanish wines, many follow the tradition of big wines with lots of barrel aging that are intended to be drunk only when they are ready—and not before. We can only hope some bodegas will maintain these traditions.

Perhaps there is a third path as well. With the creation of many more recognized wine regions (D.O.s) now numbering 64, lots of new quality is coming from regions you may have never heard of, new even to those of us in the wine trade. Albeit a bit confusing, the world of Spanish wine is shaking up—and shipping out—some pleasant surprises to the delight of American consumers.

Suggested Spanish Wine/Travel Websites:

www.winesfromspainusa.com

www.spain.info.com

Post a Comment

No comments so far for “Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain”

Post a Comment