Spain is a country of diverse wine making areas. In the south of Spain, the brutal, arid land and howling winds can prove too much for most grapes. In the northwestern part, called Galicia, the cool ocean breezes and many rivers lead to the moniker "Green Spain." Most of central Spain sizzles under the summer sun and gets very cold in the winter. The Mediterranean to the west contributes warm temperatures and cooling breezes. The Pyrenees on the border with France block rain clouds from making their way to the north central area.
One of the reasons that Spanish wine is so special is due to many wineries aging their wines in oak barrels and in the bottle until they are mature and ready to drink. In Rioja, producers are bound by law to do so.This results in the consumer being able to taste cellared wines that have aged to their best without investing in storage space at home.
For red wines Joven, Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva are terms relating to the length of the aging. Crianzas are aged at least 2 years in total (1 year in oak barrels and 1 year in bottle). Reserva wines are aged at least 3 years total, including a minimum of 1 year in barrels. Gran Reservas spend at least 2 years in barrels and then three more years in bottles minimum before they're sold.
Rioja is in north-central Spain on the Ebro River. The wines made here are a great blend of ripe fruit and earthy flavours. In Rioja, Tempranillo grapes can be blended with Mazuelo, Graciano and Garnacha. The law also leaves a little room for winemakers to add non-traditional grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon in small proportions. Classic examples will combine ripe plum and dried prune flavours with hints of leather and sweet-and-sour sauce. Many winemakers allow the wines to age for years beyond the minimum legal requirements.
You might hear people calling wines from Rioja either 'traditional' or 'modern' in style. What does this mean? 'Traditional' wines of Rioja are aged in American oak barrels, which impart hints of coconut to the wine. 'Modern' winemakers tend to use French oak barrels, which add a little vanilla and baking spice flavour. While some winemakers are squarely in one camp or another, many use methods that are somewhere in between. You might find some wines that have been aged in a mixture of American or French oak barrels or even in barrels that are themselves made of both types of oak.
BATALLA DEL VINO FESTIVAL
In late June near the classic winemaking Riojan town of Haro, Spain celebrates this unique festival in style. Each year between the 28th and 30th of June, thousands of thirsty locals and a handful of lucky tourists climb a mountain in La Rioja, Spain, and throw over 130 000 litres of red wine over each other.
For more information visit www.batalladelvino.com
Beronia's wines are defined by the region and the soils in which the vines are grown and its name is linked to the history of the area. During the third Century BC the region (the area known as La Rioja Alta today) was inhabited by the "Berones," a Celtic tribe who called the area "Beronia." Nearly 30.000 barrels are housed in an underground cellar with natural cool temperatures and humidity, giving the ideal conditions for the ageing of wine.
Soft Gregorian chants recorded at a local monastery soothe the wines as they gently mature as there are studies that prove that soft vibrations make the liquids perform a better aging than in silence.
VISITING BERONIA: Enjoy a stroll through the different stages of the production process of their wines, from the vine to the glass. A personalised visit is offered in which you will see the work carried out in Bodegas Beronia and be able to discover the unique history of the winery.
For an introduction to viticulture and tour of the winery, wine tasting and aperitif please visit www.beronia.com/en/wine-tourism
RIBERA DEL DUERO
Ribera del Duero is the other Spanish wine region known for top-quality Tempranillo, and here, the wines are usually entirely Tempranillo, rather than a blend. Like Rioja, most wine labels from Ribera del Duero will let you know how long the wine has been aged by using the terms Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva on the labels.
The winemaker's use of oak has a major influence on the finished wine here, too. While you'll see mostly American oak in traditional Rioja bottlings, winemakers in Ribera del Duero often opt for more French oak, so you're more likely to taste vanilla, cinnamon, and clove. Overall, Ribera del Duero is more opulent and polished than the rustic, earthy Rioja.
Tempranillo isn't just limited to Rioja and Ribera del Duero, though. It's grown across the country, and regions such as La Mancha and Valdepeñas offer affordable versions that are lightly oaked and ready to drink right away.
Wines from Priorat are intense and muscular. Many of the vineyards in Priorat are so steep they necessitate building terraces—it's like making the hill into a large staircase with rows of vines on each step. Priorat's unique slate soil—called llicorella—looks like broken chalkboard strewn around the hillside. This rough terrain requires vines to dig deep in the earth in search of water and nutrients.
Most of Priorat's red wines are made from a blend of Garnacha and Cariñena sometimes with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other varieties added. The wines are full-bodied with intense red and black fruit, dried tobacco, and earth.
On the Northern Coast of Spain is Basque Country. This is where you will find Txakoli (pronounced CHAK-oh-lee), a citrusy white wine with low alcohol and a spritz made from the Hondarribi Zuri grape. The area also makes a tiny bit of red wine from the Hondarribi Beltza grape, which also allows them to make rosé.
On the western coast, north of Portugal, lies Rías Baixas. The star of this area is Albariño.
Due to its coastal nature, there is a briny, ocean touch to this wine, which also has hints of white flowers and stone fruit. Enjoy a glass of this with seafood.
Cava is the famous sparkling wine of Spain. You'll mostly find Cava production in Catalonia in the northeast by Barcelona. Cava goes through the traditional method of secondary fermentation in the bottle to get its bubbles—like Champagne in France and Franciacorta in Italy. Cava can be white or rosé and is usually a blend of Xarel-lo, Macabéo, and Parellada grapes, though modern producers are now using Chardonnay in their blends. Because of extended aging with the spent yeast, most Cavas have a richness that complements their crisp appley flavors. Cavas are usually dry, but as in Champagne, the amount of sugar from the dosage will be indicated on the label with such terms as Brut or Semi-Seco. If you're looking for not-too-pricey sparkling wine for a special occasion (or a weeknight dinner), Cava can be a great choice.
VILARNAU BRUT CAVA
The Vineyard is located in the area of d'Espeills, the highest, windiest part of the municipality of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, Serrelada Mountains and to the North by the Montserrat Mountains. The three grapes used for this Cava (Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada) are always fermented seperately, then blended together to make up the finished wine. The grapes are chilled so as to preserve the aromas contained in the skins and to avoid any oxidation. The first fermentation takes place over 30 days at 15°C. The wine then undergoes its second fermentation, in bottle, during which the yeast transforms the wine into Cava and produces the characteristic bubbles at the same time.
Most sherry is a fortified wine that goes through a solera, a system of blending where wines from different years are mixed into each other over time. In some sherry barrels, a layer of yeast called flor will form over the top of the wine, protecting it from oxygen while imparting a distinct flavour. The freshest styles of sherry are Fino such as our Innocente, and Manzanilla. If these styles are exposed to oxygen later on in their aging, combining the taste of flor with nutty, oxidative characteristics, they become the Amontillado and Palo Cortado styles. Oloroso sherry is made without flor to protect the wine from oxygen. This gives the wine rich walnut and toffee notes.
Dry sherries can be such a surprisingly perfect pairing for food. A glass of Manzanilla with almonds and Spanish boquerones is classic and delicious. A bottle of Palo Cortado with a crispy-skinned roast chicken makes a great combination. Sweet styles of sherry, such as Pedro Ximénez can be a rich, syrupy delight. They go perfectly with ice cream or chocolate cake, or served as a sweet counterpoint to a cheese plate.
Alhambra Reserva Lager is crafted and brewed with great care. It is made with the wonderfully pure water from the Sierra Nevada mountains and the best cereals of the south of Spain and follows the original recipe created in 1925 in Grenada.