Spanish Wine Guide


The ancient Spanish wine sector is still dynamic and modern in spite of being thousand years old. The recent wine-growing regions are challenging Rioja as the most important wine area in Spain.

The wine country's relief is deeply impacted by the presence of the imposing Meseta Central, an inner plateau which cover a great part of Spain. The central sites have a rolling countryside surrounded by mountains.

The vineyards are situated in three different geographical areas.

  • In north-west, Galicia gets the Atlantic influence and a mild climate.
  • The Catalan coast has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and warm winters.
  • The Meseta and its continental conditions give a great temperature variation between burning summers and cold winters.

History of Wine in Spain

The first Spanish wines were made by the Phoenicians and the Greeks a thousand years B.C. The Romans brought great changes and built a wine industry to supply the Roman soldiers. From the eighth century to the fifteenth century, the Muslim Spain laws ban alcohol and the wine sector is on the decline. Only Sherry was made to the export for the continent. After the Reconquista the Spanish Empire's expansion led to an increase of Spanish wine export.

The great change in Spanish viticulture come from nineteenth century's Rioja. The wine is produced according to the Bordeaux method leading to the creation of modern riojas. With the phylloxera hitting the French vineyards, the wine exports were rising. In the late twentieth century, Spain returned to democracy and entered the European Community. So it allowed the vineyards to use modern technologies to increase the quality and the state to create a specific wine legislation based on the European wine labels.

The important categories for wine regions are DO (Denominación de Origen) and DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada). The Vinos de Pago (VP) refers to the major wine estates which cultivate international varieties. The VCIG (Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica) allow the winemakers to follow more flexible laws. The Vino de la Tierra (VdlT) are for areas which do not have yet a VCIG or DO labels. The Joven wine is unaged or briefly aged. The Crianza refers to a minimum of 24 months of maturation for red wines and 18 months for white and rosé. Reserva is for exceptional vintages and for a minimum of 60 months of maturation.

Nowadays, Spain has the biggest vineyard area on Earth with more than one million of hectares. But it is only the third wine producer because its old vines do not produce high yields.

Wine Regions of Spain

All the Spanish provinces are growing vines but only a few regions are producing high-quality wines. In Galicia there is the wine-growing region of Rias Baixas. In Catalonia there is the important areas of Priorat and Penedès.

The wine regions of Bierzo, Toro and the famous Ribera Del Duero are inside the province of Castilla y León. In Andalucia  the Sherry is the speciality of Jerez DO.

The wine region star of Spain, Rioja spread on two provinces Castilla y Leon and el Pais Vasco.

Grape Varieties in Spain

Spain has a high number of indigenous grapes which can be used to produce the best of the country's wines. Tempranillo is a well-known red grape cultivated in mild conditions. The jovenes wines have a distinctive fresh strawberry aroma. The variety gives blended wines their concentred aromas and their good ageing potential.

Garnacha Tinta (Grenache) produces young wines with high alcohol level. Priorat's red wines are full-bodied, intense and complex. Monastrell or Mourvèdre produces spicy strong wines, with high tannins and alcohol level and intense color.

Rioja's best wines are made with Graciano which gives them strong black fruit flavors, high tannins and acidity. The tannic and acid wines of Cariñena (Carignan) have a beautiful deep color. The wines of Mencia have good acidity, fresh fruity aromas and vegetal notes.

Verdejo is a white grape which produces crisp light fruit-driven wines. They can be rich and full-bodied. Albariño is successful in the north-west of Spain because it can produce aromatic wines with stone fruit flavors. With Airen the producers make good dry wine. The Cava wines are a blend of Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo. The Macabeo, named Viura in Rioja, make crisp white wines with herbal and spicy aromas.

The international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay are used in Spain to make easily quality wines so they are beginning to be more popular in this country.

Our wines from Spain