Spain is home to a truly enviable range of wines - although it’s been a tough summer for Spanish grapes, the high elevation and orientation of many regions has offered a buffer to the summers extreme heat. Whether you’re looking for something to take to a dinner party or order in a restaurant, with so many bottles on the market, deciding where to start can be quite overwhelming. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with a quick guide to wines from four great Spanish wine regions to try as your rite of passage.
Located in the Castile and León region in Northern Spain, the D.O. Rueda is a wine growing region that is characterized by a Continental climate with hot summers, cool nights and its native white grape varietal, Verdejo. This is an aromatic wine with fresh acidity, citrus and stone fruit aromas, and usually without any oak barrel aging. The Hermanos Villar Oro de Castilla Verdejo and Bodegas Naia Verdejo – offering the characteristic citrus, stone fruit and fennel notes - are two examples of verdejo that are true to D.O. Rueda form, and are ideal for pairing with Manchego cheese, salads, and fish dishes.
D.O. Rías Baixas
Rías Baixas, literally “low rivers”, is home to Spain’s acclaimed white wine growing region, located in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The indigenous Albariño grape is the varietal of choice here, producing crisp and aromatic unoaked white wines with lemony acidity and minerality that are the very essence of the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say, they go very well with shellfish, which abounds in the region’s coastal waters! We recommend Martín Códax Albariño as a classic and widely available choice, or La Caña Albariño, produced by trailblazing Spanish wine importer Jorge Ordoñez.
D.O. Ribera del Duero
With its altitude on Spain’s central plateau, D.O. Ribera del Duero the Duero River, offering high-quality wine growing conditions. Here the starring grape is Tinta del País (aka Tempranillo) and the prized red wines it produces are full-bodied with rounded oak nuances, mature red and black fruit aromas and spice. Try the Familia Torres Celeste Crianza or seek out one of the many bottlings of Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero wines. Ribera del Duero reds are great companions to all forms of grilled meat, game and the areas famous roast suckling pig and lamb
Perhaps saving the most famous for last, the D.O.C. Rioja region in northern Spain is quite literally a cut above the rest, with a qualification matched only by D.O.Q. Priorat in Catalunya. Rioja red wines are known for their dominant Tempranillo grape, and their longer aging regime in both oak barrels and bottles, which impart elegant, round wines of complexity and ageability. Look for CVNE (written as Cune) Viña Real Crianza - an accessible wine with red fruit flavors rounded by barrel aging, cocoa and spice notes. LAN Rioja Reserva is another notable player, showing characteristic flavors of ripe red fruit, oak, and savory spices. These wines were made to be paired with slow-cooked stews or grilled red meats.
This is only the beginning of the journey. Which one will you start with?