The Rioja wine region lies on the River Ebro Valley in the north of Spain where its vineyards produce some of the country's top red wines. The region is made up of three sub-regions (Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja) which are most easily accessed from Bilbao and Madrid.
Rioja Wine Tours
Winemaking technology in the Penedès region is way ahead of the rest of Cataluña, and ahead of most of Spain, largely because of the wealth and technical expertise generated by the booming cava industry. A whole range of day excursions from Barcelona are available to this wine lover's paradise.
Penedes Wine Tours from Barcelona
The relentless heat of the Jerez sherry region in Andalucia is well suited to vines where the clay albariza soil acts as a sponge which soaks up and stores the winter rainfall until the vines need it in summer.
Sherry Wine Tours from Jerez
Throughout the country there are Fiestas de la Vendimia which celebrate the grape harvest. September is the best month for these.
Spain Wine Festivals
Understanding Spanish Wines
The red wines of Rioja, the sherries of Jerez and the crisp Cava of Catalonia are the best known Spanish wines yet it is the lesser known reds of Ribera del Duero that have made the greatest impact at international wine fairs.
Wine Regions of Spain
There are more than 50 with the best reds coming from Rioja, Ribero del Duero and Navarra in the north and the top whites coming from Rueda and Penedes in Catalonia.
Reading the Spanish Wine Label:
Crianza: Crianzas spend between 6-12 months in oak casks.
Reserva: Reservas are aged a minimum of 1 year in oak casks and 2 years in bottles or a combination of both with a minimum of one year in casks.
Gran Reserva: These wines are only made in exceptional years, undergo extensive ageing, with a minimum 2 years in oak and 3 in the bottle. The periods of ageing vary according to the local regulatory body.
Spanish Wine Classification: 'Denominaciónes de Origen':
Spain was the first country to have laws defining quality. The country's wine regions are known as 'denominaciónes' in the way that French wines are classified by 'appellation'. This is a system which is used to classify and regulate grape variety and region of origin. Here are some details of the designations of origin in Spain with the best wines at the top of the list:
Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago): The wines of 'de Pago' are of the highest quality which are usually produced by individual estates.
Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOC): These are wine regions which have earned a reputation for consistent quality and this particular status has only been awarded to Rioja and Priorato.
Denominación de Origen (DO): There are sixty six wine regions throughout Spain with this status producing mainstream quality wines.
Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD): This is the title given to the newer wine producing areas currently finding their place on the quality ladder.
Vino de la Tierra (VdlT): There are a total of 58 (including official and unofficial) Vino de la Tierra regions in Spain where country wines taking the name of the region in which they are produced can be found.
Vino de Mesa: Vino de Mesa or table wine as we refer to it is bulk grown and more often than not produced from a wide selection of regions. This means it does not have a vintage and the label on the bottle will not show its area of production - it will simply say 'Produce of Spain'.