Introduction

By Paul Caputo

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.

Regions of Spain

Andalucia

Home to the great fortified wines of Xerez, Andalucia also produces some small appellation wines such as the sweet wines of Malaga and the dry wines of Huelva from the Zalema grape.

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Aragon

Aragon is a complex terroir. With the cooler Pyrenees vineyards in the north and the hot plains of the Monegros desert to the south, Aragon’s appellations of distinctive wine styles. Somontano is know for its high quality rosado wines.

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Balearic Islands

Whilst viticulture on the Balearic Islands has a long history, winemaking as a modern commercial industry is very much in its infancy. Plà i Llevant DO and Binissalem DO are both on Mallorca, but wine is produced across all of the other islands, with a number of regions classified under the Spanish system as Vino de la Tierra. The Islands enjoy a Mediterranean climate of long, warm summers with abundant sunshine, and generally mild winters. Wines are produced from local varieties such as Callet, and increasingly from French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

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