Spain’s reputation for producing some of the world’s finest wines, precedes itself and over the years the country continues to evolve churning out an eclectic mix of high quality wines from a variety of vineyards across the region. To date, Spain has 73 areas including regions and autonomous communities that are known for producing quality ‘vinos’. Over half of Spain’s total wine production comes from Castilla La Mancha, followed by Catalonia, Extremadura and the Valencia regions. Even though 80% of the country’s wine production comes from only 20 grapes, Spain has an overabundance of native grape variations, boasting more than 400 types. Some of the most popular ones include Tempranillo, Albarino, Garnacha, Palomino, Airen and Monastrell.
For wine connoisseurs and amateurs alike, the Spanish wine that usually rings a bell is La Rioja. One of the most well known regions, La Rioja produces some of Spain’s most popular wines.
In addition to La Rioja, some other well known regions include: Ribera Del Duero, Penedes, Priorat and Terra Alta.
Spanish Wine Regions — Photo courtesy of espavino
Renowned worldwide, La Rioja may be a small area but it is the richest in production of table wines and probably the most recognized internationally amongst Spanish vinos. Located in the north, close to the Basque country, La Rioja is divided into several sections including: Rioja Baja, Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa.
Rioja Baja produces fruity, full-bodied wines with a higher alcoholic content than the other two areas.
Rioja Alta is known for one-year old red wines as well as reservas, which are aged wines that have been in a barrel for at least two years and one year in a bottle. These wines are highly aromatic.
The Rioja Alavesa produces young red wines.
Some Rioja Wines include: (most can be found in the U.S.)
- Marques de Riscal
- Marques de Caceres
- C.V.N.E. (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana)
- Campo Viejo
Ribera Del Duero:
Many refer to Ribera del Duero’s wines as Spain’s ‘hidden gems’. The region might not be as well known as its Rioja counterpart, however it produces exclusive, high quality red wines that can rival the best of what La Rioja has to offer. Situated just 120km north of Madrid, in the province of Burgos, Segovia and Soria, this region covers 20,500 hectares and produces 60 million liters of wine a year. Cold winters, hot summers and high altitudes in this area work together with the limestone soils, thus creating the ideal conditions for Ribera Del Duero’s most popular grape, Tinto Fino (local name for Tempranillo), which makes up 95% of wine production.
The majority of the wine is made in small towns such as Penafiel, Roa, Aranda de Duero and San Esteban de Gormaz. There are about 250 wineries in the region, with the world famous, Vega Sicilia, founded in 1864, amongst them.
Other well known wineries in the region include:
- Alejandro Fernández
- Hacienda Monasterio
- Viña Sastre
Considered to be the second best wine-producing region in Spain (after La Rioja), Penedes is situated in the province of Barcelona (less than an hour from the city itself) and covers 26,000 hectares with 153 vineyards, producing 170 million liters of wine a year. The region is divided into several zones (Baix –Penedes, Mitia-Penedes & Alt – Penedes – low, medium & high) with Alt Penedes being the area where most of the fine wines are made. Skilled wine makers take advantage of Penedes’ microclimate, thus producing a variety of wine variations year-round. The soil types are fairly similar throughout the different areas and the mix of limestone, sand and clay combined with the Mediterranean climate provide for a fairly optimal environment.
In addition to the region’s wines, Penedes is probably best known for its Cava production and produces a mix of sparkling whites as well as Roses.
Some well-known Wineries in Penedes include:
- Albet I Noya
- Agusti Torellò
- Miquel Torres
- Jean Leon
- Juve & Camps
Grape Harvest in Penedes — Photo courtesy of grapeharvest_penedesspain_01.jpg
This region has become known for producing Spain’s most elite wines. Due to the slate and quartzite soil, an abundance of sun and rocky hills, Prioriat wine makers have carved a name for themselves nationally and abroad. The region has established itself as one of Spain’s most innovative wine producing hot spots. Situated in the province of Tarragona, Priorat is tiny in comparison with some of the other areas, as it only covers 1,800 hectares and consists of 82 vineyards, which produce 3 million liters of wine a year. Some of the wine variations include: Carinena, Garnacha, Cabernet Saugignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Some of the most popular Priorat Wineries include:
- Costers Del Siurana (Clos de l'Obac)
- Mas d´En Gil
- Masía Duch
- Sangenis i Vaque
Another winery located in the province of Tarragona, Terra Alta is bigger than its Priorat neighbor, covering an area of 6,500 hectares with 42 vineyards and producing 12.5 million liters of wine a year. This is the most southerly of Catalonia’s wine regions, and it’s also the one with the highest altitude.
Terra Alta’s bodegas (vineyards) are situated on plateaus and valley floors, usually surrounded by rolling hills and mountain peaks. Its climate is a combination of continental and Mediterranean, with cold winters and hot summers. The steady wind from Northeastern and Southwest Spain, help keep the grapes dry and healthy.
The region is best known for its smaller producers and some of the wines produced include:
- Raig de Raim Barrica
- Domus Pensi
- Gandesola Jove
- Barbara Fores El Templari