Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wines of Spain

Common Grape Varieties in Spanish Wines

In the last few years we have enjoyed many wines from Spain that represent high quality wines and exceptional values. Here is a compilation of the most common grapes we have encountered and the qualities they bring to the wine. Spain has more acres of vineyards than any other country in the world and modern winemakers are using old vines to produce world class wines at every price point.

White. Native to Galicia, with small, very sweet glyceric berries which produce high quality wines. It is the basic grape of Rías Baixas DO. There has been a dramatic increase in the area planted with this grape over the last few years.

Red. Produces robust, balanced wines. An excellent complement to Garnacha, it is widely planted in Catalonia and La Rioja, where it is known as "Mazuela". It is also considered a main variety in Calatayud, Costers del Segre, Penedés, Tarragona and Terra Alta DOs.

Garnacha Tinta
Red Garnacha. A high-yielding grape that produces vigorous wines. This is the most widely grown red grape in Spain, especially in La Rioja, Madrid, Navarre, Tarragona, Teruel, Toledo and Zaragoza. It is considered a main variety in the following DOs: Ampurdán-Costa Brava, Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Costers del Segre, La Mancha, Méntrida, Penedés, Priorato, Somontano, Tarragona, Terra Alta, Utiel-Requena, Valdeorras and Vinos de Madrid.

Red grape with a low yield, which produces highly prized wines. Young Graciano wines are very tannic, rough and tart, but develop superbly during ageing, both in cask and bottle. For this reason, these grapes are present in Gran Reservas from La Rioja and Navarre. The Graciano grape is not very abundant due to its low yields and can often be found mixed with other grapes in the same vineyard.

White. Originally from Greece, this grape produces very aromatic and distinctive wines. It is mainly found in Valencia, Zamora and the Canary Islands, and is classified as a main variety in Calatayud DO. There also is a variety known as Malvasía Riojana, widely used in Rioja white wines. In Catalonia, it is known as Subirat Parent.

Red. According to recent studies, this grape is very similar to Cabernet Franc. It produces high quality wines and is most widely planted in León (68%), Zamora, Lugo and Orense provinces. It is considered a main variety in Valdeorras and Bierzo DOs.

A red, very sweet and productive grape. It produces wines with a deep colour and considerable alcoholic content. It is mainly found in Murcia (52%), Alicante, Albacete and Valencia and it is considered a main variety in DOs such as Alicante, Almansa, Costers del Segre, Jumilla, Penedés, Valencia and Yecla.

Red. Superb quality and very aromatic, the star of Spanish grapes. It is called Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in Castile-La Mancha and Madrid, and Tinto Fino and Tinto del Pais in Castile and Leon. It flourishes in Burgos, La Rioja, Alava, Cuenca and Ciudad Real. It is considered a main variety in the following DOs: Calatayud, Cigales, Conca de Barbera, Costers del Segre, La Mancha, Penedes, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Somontano, Utiel-Requena, Valdepenas, and Vinos de Madrid.

White. Originally from Galicia, it produces wines of little body and good acidity, with considerable personality and an intense bouquet. It can be found throughout Galicia and in Córdoba.

(From Vinos de España)

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