Spain and Portugal Wines

Spain and Portugal Wines

In recent years there has been major investment in Spanish vineyards and wineries, and the country's best wines are now world class. Its reputation has been carved by red wines, particularly those from Rioja. Several growers have identified and recognized the importance of old vines, and today these are partly responsible for the super-concentrated and very expensive premium reds.

Spain Wines

Spain has more land under vine than any other country. The most important Spanish variety is Tempranillo, closely followed by Garnacha. For white wines, Viura and the 'workhorse' Airén are grown widely, with the fashionable Albariño taking centre stage in Rias Baixas. Not surprisingly, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are planted in the majority of Spanish wine regions, except Rioja.

The best Spanish wines are quality graded at DO (Denominacionde Origen), the equivalent of the French AC, and DOCa, a higher-quality grade introduced in 1991, initially for the wines of Rioja. Although DOCa applies only to Rioja, regions such as Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Penedes and Priorato are also producing some excellent wines.

Rioja Wines

In Rioja the wines are made in three distinct sub-regions: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta in the highlands and the hot and dry Rioja Baja. Rioja styles include Joven (young and unoaked), Crianza (twelve months in oak, released in the third years in bottle or barrica combined, released in the fourth year after vintage) and Gran Reserva (minimum two years in barrels and three in bottle, may be released in their sixth year) which is produced in the very best years.

Ribero del Duero, situated at high altitude, is purely a red wine area. It is home to some of Spain's most sought-after and expensive wines made from the Tempranillo grape, locally known as Tinta Fino. Navarra, a neighboring region to Rioja, is home to experimentation with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot often blended with indigenous grapes such as Garnacha and Tempranillo.

Spanish and international grapes are planted in the Mediterranean climate of Penedes. Many of the best Cava vineyards are found in this region. Mostly red wines from Garnacha and Cariñena are grown in the mountainous setting of Priorato. These high-quality, structured wines can be truly exciting!

Portugal Wines

Portugal is a country concentrating on its amazing range of indigenous grape varieties, especially Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Trincadeira and Periquita. The regions of the Douro, Ribatejo, Alentejo, and Bairrada set the pace. For the wine consumer willing to try something different, Portugal can hold many a pleasant discovery.

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