To know Spanish wines is to love Spanish wines! But understanding the different wine regions, wine labels and grape varieties of Spain is no easier task than understanding those of France or Italy. The way I tackle this challenge is to start by breaking down the regions. Here are the top regions you might want to start with:
Due north of Madrid and just below the Cantabrian Mountains sits the Rioja region (one of my favorites). Here, wine making has a long history dating as far back as the 11th century. Today, Rioja wines are internationally recognized wines with Tempranillo being the most well known. The principal wine regions of Rioja are Rioj Alta (producing fruitier wines), Rioja Alavesa (known for fuller bodied wines with higher acidity) and Rioa Baja (yielding a higher alcoholic wine).
A lesser known region is Ribera del Duero, centered between Madrid and Burgos. Many consider its wines as the finest of Spanish reds. Similar to Rioja, Ribero del Duero wines are full bodied and long lived.
Southwest of Barcelona is home to the Penedes wine region. This region is most famous for its production of Cava, Spanish champagne. While champagne is called champagne because it is made in the Champagne region of France, Cava is called Cava because the cellar which it is made in is called a cava. Some of the best known producers are Codorniu and Freixenet.
Located on the northwestern corner of Spain is the region called Rias Baixas where one of the finest white wines is produced, Albarino. Albarino wines are known as the "wines of the sea" due to their production being so close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Head south to Andalucia into Spain's "sherry triangle" consisting of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar for the biggest sherry producing area in the world. Many sherry bodegas can be found within this triangle for tours and tastings.
Planning a trip to Spain? Click here to find out how I can help make your vacation a unique postcard in your travel scrapbook!