Spain is the world’s third largest exporter of wine, its viticulture going back millennia. Historically battling the wines of France and Italy for authority and recognition, today Spain’s appellations are considered an equal global competitor and great value for exceptional quality.
Wine regions of Spain
The length and breadth of the nation, across a vastly divergent terrain, is given over to winegrowing. With an estimated 4,000 bodegas, or vineyards, Spain’s land gives up any number of weighty reds, whites, sparkling and fortified wines.
Most prominent is Rioja wine, considered the beating heart of Spanish wine.
Red – Rioja
This northern region is made up of three sections: Rioja Alta, Alavesa and Baja. Here, whites and rosés are also widely produced, but its name is made by its famous reds.
Primarily made from the Tempranillo grape, Rioja’s vineyards also yield Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano and Mazuelo.
From its longest oaked and aged Gran Reserva style to its no-age version, Rioja is high in tannin with dark fruit flavors and dry, sweeter notes.
Red – Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero, a region in high, rocky terrain about 100 miles north of Madrid, also grows Tempranillo, or Tinto Fino as it is called locally. This historic terroir is world-renowned, consistently winning accolades for its quality.
It is home to 200 wineries, the most famous of which is royalty-endorsed Bodega Vega Sicilia. This company, in existence since 1864, harvests hectares of vines on the banks of the river Duero. Its wines are deep and complex, with berries on the nose.
A classic to try would be its 2015 Valbuena, a blend of mostly Tempranillo with 5% Merlot. According to Millesima’s experts it is “explosive and showy”, boasting aromas of flowers, herbs and balsamic.
White – Priorat
Moving to Spain’s white wines, it is an exciting time for the country’s Priorat region. Typically known for its reds, low-yield Priorat, in the province of Catalonia, produces a deeply appreciated, textured wine.
But vintners are now ever increasing Priorat’s exclusive white production and one of the most famous estate owners in the region, René Barbier of Clos Mogador, even hopes to eventually split his business 50/50 red and white.
Grown in soil layered with slate, called “llicorella”, white Priorat has an aromatic flavor that is clean yet complex on the palate.
Clos Mogador’s Nelin 2016 vintage is a great one to try. Based on Garnacha Blanca blended with five other grapes, it is complex and juicy and slowly-aged, bringing the acidity up and the oak down.
Spain’s wines call out for thorough exploration and these fantastic samples currently available are just a taste of what this country’s prestigious vineyards have to offer.
Millesima is a family company based in Bordeaux which offers a wide selection of wines: red, rosé, white and sparkling wines are available on its website and in its New York boutique (in the Upper east side district). All the wines highlighted in this article are available via Millesima.