Jun 23, 2022
Discover Green Spain
For those used to stories of scorching heatwaves and semi-arid conditions on the high southern plateau, the notion of a Green Spain may be hard to grasp.
However, the northern coast of the Iberian peninsula – from Galicia nestling above Portugal to San Sebastian close to border with France – feels the full effect of the Atlantic conditions.
Rainfall is plentiful and the landscape is lush. Rías Baixas and Getariako Txakolina, at opposing ends of the coast, each receive 1,600mm of precipitation a year on average. To put that into context, that’s roughly the same as the combined annual total of drizzle and downpours in London and Glasgow – the locations for this year’s Wines from Spain Trade Annual Tasting 2022. For winemakers, these can be challenging conditions with humidity leading to the risk of disease – hence the widely spaced vines trained on high trellises to maximise airflow that remain a hallmark across much of the region.
The pay-off for that abundance of water is a high number of sunshine hours, which helps bring the indigenous white and red grape varieties to maturity while retaining zingy acidic and balanced – in some cases low – alcohol levels. For instance, the spritzy Txakolís of Bizkaya and Álava in the east that rarely exceed 11% ABV.
Green Spain is a region with its own distinctive flavour. Albariño, from its spiritual home of Rías Baixas, has become one of Spain’s best-known exports – with plantings now found in California and Uruguay among other New World locations. Ribeiro is carving its own niche with other white varieties including Treixadura, Loureiro and Godello to deliver fresh and floral wines, as well as riper, more honeyed styles.
Inland, Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Galicia’s youngest DO, Monterrei, are flying the flag for Green Spain’s exciting reds. Here, Mencia is serving up fresh reds with a crunchy bite. These areas are far from being one-trick ponies with a host of native varieties, including Brancellao, and “immigrants” less commonly found elsewhere, such as Merenzao – also known as Trousseau in the Jura region of Eastern France.
This part of Spain is green in more ways than one. Across the region, you can find winemakers pushing the boundaries of what is possible in challenging conditions by embracing organic and biodynamic viticulture.
In a country that’s producing some of the most dynamic winemaking in the world today, Green Spain is delivering more than its own fair share of exciting discoveries. Check them out at the Wines from Spain Annual Tasting 2022. Umbrella optional!