Eric Asimov penned a line that has stayed with me ever since. “No country has had its wine map filled in so intriguingly over the last 25 years as Spain. And perhaps no country has rewarded wine consumers more with a combination of value and enticement.” It’s true. Spain is a sprawling but fragmented patchwork of wine culture and certainly one of the most important wine countries in the world. Rioja inevitably occupies most consumers’ attention, but the regions and their respective appellations deserve to be looked at in depth.
Spain is one of the largest wine producing countries in the world and as you might expect, demonstrates an almost endless series of regions, denominations and local grape varieties. Not so long ago Spain was dominated by huge wineries that pursued a model of big brand expansion. As smaller bodegas started to spring up in the mid to late 90s the wines carried the distinctive characteristics of Parker influenced extraction, alcohol and oak. Things are a lot more exciting these days and Spain boasts a vibrant sector of small wine makers producing artisan wines, often using organic and biodynamic farming techniques.