Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world and it is also the one with the most land dedicated to vines –over 1.17 million hectares-, which basically means that during your next trip to the Iberian nation, Spanish wines tasting and vineyard landscapes are guaranteed.
The first vines were planted in Spain by the Phoenicians three thousand years ago in today’s Jerez (“sherry”) region. This centuries-long experience in wine-making has enabled Spanish vintners to master every wine style in the book: today, Spain produces all types of wines in the spectrum from sparkling (cava), whites, rosés and reds to fortified ones like the world-famous Jerez. One thing is certain: there is a Spanish wine for everyone.
In Spain wine tasting tours are in plenty. The best way to start planning one of your next wine holidays in Spain is to understand what makes each of its wine regions unique:
On the Mediterranean coast we find Catalonia and its famous sub-regions: Penedés, home to 95% of the country’s Cava (Spain’s answer to champagne) and Priorat, where some of the most acclaimed Spanish red wines come from. Here you can experience the best wine tours in Spain.
Penedés is the wine region to visit on a wine holiday in Spain if you have a predilection for bubbles as it is where almost the entire production of Cava comes from. Cava’s main grapes, Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo thrive in the altitude of Penedés -with some vineyards planted in sites higher than 2,500 feet.
The Priorat has unquestionably changed Spain’s wine landscape: its rugged hills and mountains produce Garnacha, Cariñena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah that make for strong, complex wines. The Priorat’s distinct licorella soils (mix of granite and slate) add a mineral note to every wine produced in the area, regardless of its grapes. The region is incredibly difficult to work on so only small amounts of wine are made each year; their high-quality goes hand in hand with their steep prices. Discover some of the country’s most interesting reds on your wine tasting holidays in Spain.
RIBERA DEL DUERO
The Ribera del Duero (“the banks of the river Duero”) region gets its name from the river Duero (the same one that we call Douro in Portugal) and it is widely known for its excellent wines. A short detour to the stunning wine region of Galicia and Toro will help you discover the beautiful wines of the Ribera region. As a matter of fact, Spain’s most acclaimed winery, Vega Sicilia, anchors the Denominación de Origen Ribera del Duero fueled by the widespread Tempranillo grape, the country’s most planted red. Neighboring stars, Dominio de Pingus and Pesquera have also joined the ranks of the world's most coveted wines. This Spanish wine region, also notable for the rich white Verdejo of Rueda, is a must-do for any wine lover traveling the Spanish wine country.
VALLE DEL EBRO
The Ebro River Valley encompasses two sub-regions where Tempranillo is king: Rioja and Navarra. These regions are a must-visit on one of your wine tours in Spain.
Rioja has been traditionally reputed for high quality wine, at least until the late twentieth century’s explosion of new regions and grapes. This Spanish wine region’s aging classification includes: Joven (“young”) for wines ready to drink, Crianza (“aged” for 2 years) wines, Reserva (“reserve”) wines and Gran Reserva wines that are at least five years old and are usually regarded as the region’s pinnacle. You can’t miss out on a tasting afternoon in Rioja when touring around Spain. You can also visit the Somontano wine region to satisfy all your food and wine cravings.
Hot and dry Andalucía is a southwestern wine region, you can discover on your wine holiday in Spain, which is renowned the world over for its fortified wine, Jerez (“sherry”). Interestingly, although vineyards were planted here nearly 3,000 years ago, winemaking was discouraged and even forbidden in the area from 711 to 1492 during the Islamic Moors’ occupation. The capital city of Madrid is not to far away from the iconic wine region of La Mancha.
Sherry is a one-of-a-kind fortified wine made from white grapes (Palomino and Pedro Ximénez) that grown near the town of Jerez de la Frontera. Unlike its equally famous Portuguese counterpart, Porto, this Spanish wine is fortified after the fermentation, which means that in the beginning, it is a white, dry wine.
The unique Solera ageing process of sherries (gradual blending of old and young ones) is extremely interesting to learn about and it is worth taking a winery tour in the area for this purpose. In case you are wondering, the numbers and acronyms on sherry labels are age indicators: 12 or 15 years or certified ages (V.O.S. -over 20 years old or V.O.R.S. -over 30 years old).
The region of Jerez is also famous for its long-standing Flamenco tradition, making it an excellent place to watch this great art while tasting unique local Spanish wines under the Andalusian sun.
¡Salud y buen viaje!