A brief history of Spanish wine
Throughout history, the natural conditions of the Iberian Peninsula have been conducive to the cultivation of vines. So today we will talk about some of the most famous wines in Spain , about their origins and evolution.
Since the Phoenicians introduced the first species to Spanish soil, viticulture has expanded enormously, transporting it to every corner of the territory. Today, hundreds of grape varieties adorn the Spanish wine scene, creating a varied crucible with 70 different Designations of Origin, where you can taste a wide range of wines , suitable for the requirements of each consumer.
Despite this historical trajectory, the modern process of elaboration and quality did not reach Spain until after the terrible epidemic of Phylloxera at the end of the 19th century, which devastated the French vineyards, pushing their oenologists to the south, where there were still healthy vineyards.
It was in La Rioja that the first quality wines began to be made, protected from that Welsh influence. In this area, as well as in the second major Spanish Designation of Origin, Ribera del Duero, the Tempranillo variety was the predominant one in winemaking.
The two areas have in common this grape variety, but if in La Rioja the wines were traditionally lighter, fresh and aged in American oak barrels, in Ribera del Duero the wines were generally stronger, more full-bodied, with more structure and a preponderance of French oak.
In Ribera del Duero now coexist prestigious wineries with which the name began its activity, such as Protos ( Protos Roble ), with others that produce a modern wine, but without losing the essence of the area ( Loess Inspiration ).
The supremacy and prestige of the wines of La Rioja and Ribera was affected at the end of the twentieth century by the penetration of the Priory .
This region of Catalonia , where traditional table wines were traditionally made, was propelled by the oenologist Álvaro Palacios from La Rioja, who managed to make top quality wines, recovering centuries-old species of garnacha.
Other producers such as Clos Figueras ( red Serras del Priorat , white Serras del Priorat ) followed in the footsteps of Álvaro Palacios , who placed this Catalan name at the top of Spanish territory. Moreover, it has propelled other Catalan areas such as Monsant, Costers del Segre, Terra Alta ( La Pilosa , Celastrina , Vent del mar ), Penedés ( Viña Esperalda ), Pla de Bages, Emporda ( La Botera , Mallolet Blanc / Rosat , Intruder , Cami de Cormes ) or Alella.
The influence of the old Catalan garnacha variety has spread to other parts of Spain, becoming present in most of the territory. However, it has found its maximum expression in the central areas of the country. Aragón , Madrid and Castilla y León produce some of the finest wines on the market.
Today, young winemakers are recovering centuries-old forgotten species of grenache , which have given rise to new designations of origin such as Cebreros in the area between Madrid and Ávila. These fruity, fresh and low-alcohol wines have adapted tremendously to the tastes of young consumers in search of dynamic wines.
The great attraction of garnacha grapes is their ability to transmit in the glass the minerality of the soil in which they are planted. They share this characteristic with another fundamental variety in order to understand the new trends on the Spanish market, the variety Mencia variety .
These grapes, grown almost exclusively in the León region and in eastern Galicia , produce some of the most appreciated wines by experts. In the Bierzo region , prestigious oenologists have managed to transform this normally very oxidative variety into wines with a high capacity to transmit the characteristics of the terroir .( From the Barreiros vineyard grandparents ).
But it is not only in the north that wine is made.The Spanish Levant is also facing a change in trend.
Here, the king is the Monastrell grape , a variety that transmits to the wines an unmistakable Mediterranean character . In the provinces of Murcia and Albacete , this grape variety reaches its maximum level: in Jumilla, and in the nearby county of Yecla. However, in Utiel-Requena, a county in the interior of Valencia, bobal red grapes predominate, from which, in recent years, interesting wines have been made ( Finca Terrerazo ).
A little further to the center, in the name of Méntrida in La Mancha, the same variety produces red wines of great subtlety.
In this recap of Spanish wines, we must not forget that, in addition to red wines, white wines of extraordinary quality are also produced. Rueda Designation of Origin, fromThe Valladolid has placed Verdejo grapes in almost every bar in the Spanish hotel industry.
The intensity of these grapes, to which are added the floral notes, anise and tropical fruits, seduce consumers. The same thing happens with other white varieties such as Albariño or Godello , essential varieties in the "boom" of Welsh wines .
Rias Baixas ( Chan de Rosas Albariño , Immortalis Albariño , Mar de Frades ), Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras and Monterrey are the aces of Welsh Designations of Origin which, despite having white wine as their banner, are beginning to make Atlantic red wines. and strong personality.
The recapitulation of Spanish wines would remain incomplete if we do not take into account the islands.
Both the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands have experienced a considerable increase in the quality of their wines. If in the first case, the varieties of local grapes recovered from the land of oblivion, in the Canary Islands, draw attention, the volcanic character of their wines is unique in the world.
In the island of Tenerife alone there are five different Designations of Origin, to which we must add those of Gran Canaria, La Palma, El Hierro and Lanzarote.
In the latter, wines produced from the Malvasía grape variety are increasingly recognized and valued, both for the conditions and the difficulty of viticulture.
Although in recent years, the Spanish wine world has reached an unprecedented peak , there are two types of elaborations that have been left out of external influences: Marco de Jerez wines and Cava sparkling wines. These two designations of origin deserve a special post due to their unique character.
After this trip among some of the wines that are made in various regions of Spain, all you have to do is choose one of them and enjoy it in the best company.
Check out our DIS & DIS store to discover all the wines recommended here, as well as many other assortments.
We thank our good friend Daniel Huerta Pita (Sommelier) for the content and documentation of this reading , and we will tell you, wine lovers, soon!
Dis & Dis team