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.
"91 Rating! #39 of Top 100 Wines of 2016. A plush texture masks the firm structure, as blackberry and boysenberry flavors mingle with toast, menthol and mineral notes, backed by well-integrated tannins. Drink now through 2020."
"Reveals a deep ruby color in addition to copious quantities of blackberry fruit, a straightforward personality, good body and ripeness, and no hard edges."
"91 Points- Wine Advocate. 100% Godello. Fragrant minerals, fennel, and white fruits lead to a creamy textured, richly fruity palate. Impeccably balanced and very lengthy, it is an outstanding value that will provide pleasure for another 3-4 years."
"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."
"Dark, full satured red; red-black berry; vibrant, bright aromas of cherry, plums, currant; fine toasty and coffee flavours; rich seductive cherry fruit; black berries; complex, sophisticated, elegant; rich and full-bodied; ripe but soft tannins; smooth Glycerin sweetness; fresh and mineral; very long finish; serious ageing potential"
"Despite its amber color, this wine shows the herbal and slightly bitter flavors of fino, along with notes of nuts and graham crackers more typical of amontillado. It's clean and fresh, in a restrained, almost austere style. Drink now. 67 cases made. 86 pts. - WS"
"Sweet and concentrated, yet this has a freshness, from the grapey note to the bright structure. Fig, caramel and chocolate round out the flavors, ending with a moderate length. Drink now."
"92 Points- Wine Advocate. The entry level 2008 Mauro is composed of Tempranillo and. It is a full bodied, rich, racy offering with layered fruit, a vibrant acid structure, and savory black fruit flavors. On the palate all components are nicely integrated coming together in a long, pure finish. It will evolve for 2 to 3 years and drink nicely through 2023."
"Garnet color. Aromas of chocolate berries, melon, and nougat with a supple, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tangy craisin, peppery spice, and leafy earth accented finish. A nice dry table wine."