Spain is a hot, dry, mountainous country with more vineyard land than any other nation on earth. It ranks third in the world in wine production, after France and Italy. Who would have guessed this about Spain?
The regions are an important part of the wine in Spain today.
Rioja, in north-central Spain, has historically been the country’s major red wine region. Three-quarters of Rioja’s wine is red, 15 percent rosado (rosé), and 10 percent white. The principal grape in Rioja is Tempranillo, Spain’s greatest red variety. But regulations permit another three varieties for reds — Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (Carignan), and Mazuelo — and red Rioja wine is typically a blend of two or more varieties.
Ribera del Duero, north of Madrid, is one of Spain’s most dynamic wine regions. The Tempranillo grape variety makes wines with body, and deep color.
Priorato, mountainous and inaccessible, and is a new regions for red wine, is north of the city of Tarragona, in northeast Spain. A rich, a wine from Garnacha and Carignan, two of Spain’s native varieties.
Penedés is in Catalonia, south of Barcelona. It’s the home of most Spanish sparkling wines, known as Cava. Penedés is also a large producer of both red and white wines.
The Rías Baixas region of Galicia, in northwest Spain next to the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal, is gaining acclaim for its exciting white wine, Albariño, made from the Albariño grape variety.
Navarra, an area just northeast of Rioja that is long known for its dry rosé wines, is an increasingly strong red wine region. Navarra’s red wines are similar to, but somewhat less expensive than, the more famous wines of Rioja.
Toro, in northwest Spain, west of Ribera del Duero, is quickly emerging as one of Spain’s best red wine regions. Toro’s climate and soil are ideal for making powerful, tannic red wines — mainly from the Tempranillo grape variety.
Rueda, west of Ribera del Duero, produces one of Spain’s best white wines from the Verdejo grape. The wine is clean and fresh, has good fruit character, and is inexpensive.
After five weeks walking the Camino, I can say Spain really has some fine wines!