Nearly 100 grape varieties, many of them unique to Spain and enjoying a renaissance, will feature in the wines presented at this year’s Wines from Spain Annual Tasting. Both white and red they hail from wine regions across the peninsula and the islands and are well worth seeking out for more curious and adventurous customers.
Starting in the west, lesser-known regions such as Extremadura and Ribera del Guadiana are coming to the fore with the blackberry-fruited Trincadeira Preta and the floral white Cayetana Blanca.
Meanwhile over in Galicia more grapes are emerging to support already popular varieties such as Albariño and Godello. Treixadura, with a slightly creamy character and aromas of white orchard fruits, is one of them and present either solo or part of a blend in 11 wines. Mostly found in Ribeiro and Monterrei, the variety offers plenty of personality as a solo act or blended with Albariño, Godello and Loureiro.
Galicia should also be highlighted for fresh, lighter styles reds - look out for grape varieties such as Merenzao which is part of the winemaking scene in Valdeorras.
While red wines remain the focus for regions such as Ribera del Duero momentum is gathering behind ancient white varieties. In the case of Ribera del Duero, vineyards of the speckle-skinned Albillo Mayor are being nurtured for quality winemaking and wines from the variety are gradually appearing alongside their red siblings in wine portfolios. Similarly named but different in character, Albillo Real has roots in Vinos de Madrid and Cebreros and is seeing growing interest albeit as a niche offering.
Rioja, with a rich viticultural heritage and long-established wine styles, has embraced greater variety over the last decade - indeed there are interesting changes to note. Rediscovered and ‘new’ indigenous grapes include Tempranillo Blanco which is proving to be a popular choice with its approachable and attractive fruit profile.
Moving over to the DO regions of the Mediterranean look out for Cartoixa, a clone of Xarel·lo, which is found in the vineyards of Tarragona. Wines from the variety are textured with hints of dried fruit and peach, and have an attractive pink hue.
There is also more to Cava than you might think. Grapes authorised to make Spain’s classic sparkling wine include the red variety Trepat, giving truly local character.
Wines from the Spanish islands are present in greater numbers at this year’s Annual Tasting. The Prensal variety is the mainstay of Mayorca’s white wines - there are six wines on show featuring the variety. Look out for Mayorca’s reds too which are made from Manto Negro meaning ‘black cloak’ and an apt name for this thick-skinned variety which produces deeply coloured wines with rich blackcurrant fruit and a hint of spice.
A wine from the intriguingly named Marmajuelo grape can also be tasted. A yellow-skinned variety, this grape thrives in the sandy soils of the Canary Islands. It is just one of a number of grapes which are now part of the higher quality wines being made here and finding their way overseas.