The Different Genres of Spanish Wine: 7 Regions, 7 Styles to Try this Season
Spanish film has a thing in common with Spanish wines: while they have an impressively wide array of expressions, they manage to be unmistakably Spanish. From Luis Buñuel’s delirious black and white surrealist An Andalusian Dog to Pedro Almodóvar’s thought provoking The Skin I Live In and Alejandro Aménabar’s chilling thriller The Others; there is a certain intensity and vibrancy that you simply can’t get anywhere else, not even if you get Tom Cruise and a multi-million euro budget to Hollywood it up (I’m looking at you, Vanilla Sky).
While the diversity of genres give Spanish cineastas a way to structure their creations, Spanish winemakers rely on terroir and the juggling of tradition and innovation to direct their bodegas and release bottles as fresh as a romantic comedy with the Mediterranean seaside as background or as deep and intriguing as a raw honest drama.
To celebrate the variety of genres that Spanish wine has to offer, here are seven regions and seven different styles of wines to give you a flight through the colours and flavours of Spain. While you might be familiar with world-famous Rioja and Ribera del Duero, a screening of these distinctive and unique DOs will show the variety of genres that Spanish winemakers bottle across the country.
This terroir lies in the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, within Catalonia. While Cava is the biggest and most popular sparkling wine in the region, the recently created denomination Clàssic Penedès offers an artisan and 100% organic approach. Despite their differences, both Cava and Classic Penedés have similarities: they’re made with the traditional method and use a combination of Macabeo, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Malvasía (Cava allows for some international grape varieties as well).
María Casanovas Brut NV
€22 – Available at Baggot Street Wines
A traditional style Cava, made with equal parts of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada. Sharp and with a refreshing citrus nose complemented by a touch of toast on the palate.
Mouth-watering and with a crisp acidity, it’s a pleasure meant to be enjoyed well chilled and one to keep at hand to celebrate sunshine.
They identify themselves as “the leading white wine of Spain.” Located within Valladolid in the historic community of Castilla y León (north of central Spain), this is the region to go for world-class Verdejo. While the DO allows the production of reds, it’s the whites where they really stand out. Verdejo shines in the DO’s gravelly soils and benign continental weather. Other white varieties in the region include Sauvignon Blanc, Viura and Palomino Fino.
La Báscula Malabarista
€11.95 – Available at Searsons
This 100% Verdejo is a textbook example of what a zesty and refreshing white from Rueda should taste like.
Grapefruit and green apples combine in this moderate acidity, light bodied wine, which will go very well with lightly seasoned fish dishes or grilled vegetables.
Albarino country is located in Galicia, northwestern Spain and while recent attempts have been made to plant Albarino in other countries, no one does it like Rias Baixas. The region’s mineral-rich soils and cool climate with generous rain, makes it different from your usual Spanish landscape (some would say it looks more like Donegal), however, plenty of light, good drainage and the influence of the sea protect the grapes from excessive water and allow Albarino to mature beautifully.
€17.95 – Available at Nestorwines.ie
Vines up to 20 years old contribute to a concentrated and flavourful albarino, with aromas of pineapples and juicy nectarines along with a minerality that evokes sea water and ocean breezes.
Medium bodied and mouth watering, it’s a good one to match fried fish and rich seafood dishes.
While Navarra does a large amount of reds and has a small production of whites as well, this jack of all trades region has earned a reputation for having outstanding rosés. With about a quarter of their production being rosado, while it still relatively small, it’s way more than what other regions produce. Located in the north, between Rioja and the Basque Country, it makes sense that the grapes of choice here are mostly Tempranillo and Garnacha, however, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are no strangers to the local blend, lovely both in red and in pink.
€19.50 – Available at JNWine.com
Intense coral gleams introduce a powerful rosé with a juicy explossion of red cherries and raspberries, courtesy of Garnacha a.k.a. Grenache.
Very fruity and with a herbal undertone, it’s a dry and medium bodied rosé closer to a young red than to a crisp white.
The largest of the Canary Islands is dominated by Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak, which happens to be an active volcano. The island’s soil reflects that volcanic influence and across the five local appellations there are numerous boutique bodegas using local varieties such as Listan Blanco, Malvasia, Listan Negro or Negramoll to create wines with an intense minerality and attachment to terroir.
Suertes del Marqués Vidonia 2014
€35 – Available at Green Man Wines, 64Wines, Clontarf Wines
A varietal made from the region’s flagship white grape Listán Blanco, known in Jerez as Palomino Fino (and a common base for Sherry wines, but that’s another story).
Pale and lean, this wine’s greenness is more herbal than fruity. Saline minerality and a sharp acidity will compliment its austere character.
Also within Catalonia, Priorat is a relatively new DO where very old vines grow since decades before it was taken seriously. The region is known for its unique soil, called licorella, which looks as shattered slates of rock dispersed over an inhospitable landscape. This soil, however, allows the grapes to remain cool and retain much needed water in the dry Mediterranean summer.
24.25 € (on offer from €25.25) – Available at WinesDirect.ie
Named after the village where it’s made, this Grenache-Carrignan blend benefited from a couple of hours in the decanter.
Black cherries and toast soon make way for a delicate earthy note delivered by tannins strong to match the wine’s intensity.
Southwestern Spanish region of Andalusia is home to the land of Jerez, Sherry as it introduces itself to English speaking palates. From the driest, palest Finos and Manzanillas to the luscious sweet Pedro Ximénez, Sherry is the place to search for great fortified wines, not just sweet. Their complex solera system, more common in distilling than in winemaking, means that you rarely see a vintage on the bottles, instead, consistency of style is valued (with some exceptions).
Lustau Puerto Fino
12.45 € (half bottle) – Available at O’Briens Wine
A classic and elegant Fino, bone-dry and straw pale, it’s the house’s flagship wine and a great introduction to the style.
Light bodied and with aromas of yogurt and salted almonds, a sip will regale you with a pleasant nuttiness, a mild yeasty presence and a briney minerality.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.