Spain is ideal country for wine growing, but part of the reason for this is that Spain is less densely planted than many other wine producing countries. Rias Baixas, located on Span's northwest coast, is the region that produces Spain's most famous white wine: Albarino. Good Albarino is crisp and lemony with a streak of minerality. It is an ideal foil for seafood of all types. Bierzo, just east of Ribeira is home to the Mencia grape. Mencia has gained significantly in quality and reputation in the last decade with the help of some new winemakers and modern winemaking technology. In Castilla y Leon, wine lovers find Tempranillo featured in the red wine regions of Toro, Ribera del Duero and Rioja as well as some quality whites in Rueda. Further east still, we find Grenache featured in Navarra, Carinena, Calatyud and many of the coastal regions of Catalunya. The middle of Spain is mostly Grenache country and we find that eastern regions near the coast often feature blends. Monastrell finds great success in Jumilla, Bulas and other regions here. Finally, in the south we find Jerez, home of one of the most famous fortified wines in the world, sherry.
Ribera del Duero is located in North Central Spain on the Duero river. It features Tempranillo, often referred to as Tinto Fino or Tinto de Pais here. There are varied soils in Ribera that can challenge viticulturalists, and it is not rare to find even top producers with long-term contracts with growers from other regions. Even so, Ribera arguably produces some of the finest Tempranillo based wines in Spain, many of which are capable of aging for decades.
Northeast of Ribera del Duero on the river Ebro lies Rioja. Rioja is divided into three subregions: Rioja Alta in the west, Rioja Alavesa (the part of Rioja in the Alava region) and Rioja Baja in the hotter, eastern section. Rioja began to gain a reputation with Bordeaux growers after Bordeaux was ravaged by phylloxera in the late nineteenth century. Indeed, Bordeaux producers spurred change in Rioja by introducing the idea of aging wines in small oak barrels. The wines that resulted were superior than the fruity, homespun wines available before. For many years Rioja was aged in American oak barrels and much Rioja still is, though new schools are aging wine in French barrels instead. Though the result has been less ‘traditional' Rioja, the wines are often higher in quality.
Priorat is a tiny Spanish wine region that has garnered high acclaim in the last twenty years or so. Even today, the vineyards of Priorat are planted mostly with Carinena (Carignan), but that is changing. The top Priorat are usually blends with a backbone of old vine Grenache blended with international varietals like Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot.
"A premium Fino Sherry, is a delicate and dry white wine. Produced from Palomino grape matured under a veil of yeast for a minimum of five years. Pale straw yellow colour, with shades of green and gold. Bright and clear with an aromatic, very pungent aroma.. Light, fresh and delicate on the palate with a crisp, dry finish."
"92 pts Robert Parker List Price $55 The 2004 Tabula is 96% Tempranillo and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon barrel-fermented and aged for 16 months in new French oak. The nose reveals enticing aromas of pain grille, pencil lead, espresso, incense, blackberry, and black currant. Layered, concentrated, and still a bit tightly wound, it will benefit from another 4-5 years of cellaring and drink well through 2024."
"Bright lemon yellow with green highlights. Tropical aromas and hints of vanilla lead to intense fruit flavors, with fresh acidity to balance the wine, both persistent and full of character. Expressive, bright varietal, with fleshy fruit and some subtle and elegant notes of smoke from the oak aging."
"A wonderful blend of Garnacha, Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot. Roasted aromas of berry and black plum. The baked, black fruit flavors grab you, adding an undertone of chocolate and mocha. Jammy and deep on the finish with earthy, chocolaty notes."
"Medium dry, full-bodied sherry from California. Aged for a mellow, nutty flavor. Good served as an aperitif"
"This firm, bright white delivers focused flavors of green apple, orange blossom and beeswax with notes of tart grapefruit and mouthwatering acidity."
"93 Points - Wine Spectator. This polished red is focused and harmonious, with plum, cassis, licorice, tobacco and mineral notes that mingle gracefully over well-integrated tannins. Marries density and freshness, presenting a long, savory finish."
"Very clean and intense aroma of tropical fruit: pineapple, peach along with floral aromas of white flowers. Good aromatic power. Fills the mouth with aromas and glides smooth and lightly, fresh and very floral at the end."
"92 pts Wine Advocate @ $19. Purple-colored, clean, fresh, expressive, with notes of smoky bacon, some peat, wood well-integrated; supple, balanced and with good acidity. It reminds me of a Mediterranean rendition of a Crozes-Hermitage. Clean and delineated. Silky texture integrated."
"An easy-drinking wine that is both fresh and well balanced, with succulent aromas of fresh cherries, wild berries, rose petals and candied oranges. A fruit-forward wine with a great natural acidity, the Artazuri Garnacha can be served slightly chilled and will pair well with any type of cuisine."