A Wine Cellar guide to Spanish wines
The Iberian Peninsula’s viticultural heritage dates back thousands of years. Today, Spain has the largest area of land under vine in the world; however, heat and water stress result in relatively low yields. Soils are predominantly limestone/chalk, becoming more granite to the north and containing more sandstone to the south.
The most notable red Spanish grape varieties are Tempranillo, Garnacha and Monastrell, whilst the white wines are dominated by Airen, Viura, Verdejo and Albariño.
Common white varieties
Airen, Viura, Verdejo and Albariño
Common red varieties
Tempranillo, Garnacha (Grenache Noir) and Monastrell
The Wines of Spain
Spain also grows some well-known international varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Spanish wines are generally aged in American oak for many years to allow for oxidative ageing, though some producers are leaning to a fresher, more modern style of winemaking.
López de Heredia
The Four Key Regions
This was the first wine region in Spain to gain DOCa status – the country’s highest level of classification. The red wines are Tempranillo or Tempranillo-led blends and are largely produced by merchants who buy grapes from a network of small growers.
Situated deep in the hills on steep, rocky slopes, vines are planted on terraced vineyards at high altitudes. A winemaking movement started here in the 1980s and gave rise to world-class reds that have earned a devoted following. Priorat DOCa wines are made from indigenous varieties such as old-vine Garnacha and Carinena as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
The home of Cava, a sparkling wine traditionally made from three white grape varieties: Paredella, Xarel-lo and Macabeo. This region stretches over three different climatic zones and produces a diverse range of wines.
Sherry is a fortified wine that originates from Jerez, or Xeres, in the south of Spain. Only three grape varieties are permitted in Sherry: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Muscat of Alexandria. Wines are aged in the Solera system, which blends young, fresh wine with older, oxidative wines for a consistent product. The slow ageing process imbues the wines with wonderful depth and an array of flavours such as citrus, nuts, toffee and toast. Wine Cellar is proud to import the wines of Emilio Lustau – one of Spain's oldest and most prestigious sherry houses.
Did you know?
Pinotage is a South African-born variety. It was created in the 1920s by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and has given rise to the Cape Blend, which is generally made from Bordeaux varieties along with a small percentage of Pinotage.