Spain has, perhaps, been a little slower than some in embracing change and to take advantage of all the new wine technology that is now available, but it is catching up fast.
Wines are defined under the Spanish regulatory system, Denominacion de Origen (DO), and DOCa (Denominacion de Origen e Calificada (DOCa) although only two region, Rioja and Priorat, qualify for this superior entitlement. There is also another appellation, with more relaxed rules, called Vino de la Tierra, an equivalent of Vine de Pays in France.
Spanish wine regions
Although best known for Sherry, which comes from Jerez in the south west, and Rioja, which is made in the north east, there are now many other regions that are producing excellent quality wines, both red and white. To the North West lies the Rias Baixas, an area of relatively high rainfall which produces aromatic, fresh white wines, whilst to the east, just south of Barcelona on the Mediterranean in Penedes and Priorat, there has been something of a revolution. Penedes is best known for Cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne, but international grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay amongst them, have been introduced with considerable success. Just inland from Tarragona, Priorat is getting excellent results from Garnacha (Grenache). Vines have been grown in the Ribera del Duero region, which lies on the upper reaches of the Duero (this becomes the Douro in Portugal) for centuries, and their full bodied rich wines are now becoming better known. Modern style white wines, made from a blend of Viura (Macabeo) and the traditional Verdejo, are to be found close by in Rueda. Valdepenas is really part of La Mancha but because the wines here are generally of a higher quality it has its own DO. The white Airen grape, which seems impervious to the intense heat, is a staple variety, together with Tempranillo.