Wine has been present in what we know today as Spain since at least 1,100 BC. It was around this moment in time that the Phoenicians, those great traders of the Mediterranean Sea, arrive on the coasts of Cadiz in Andalusia and established the city of Gadir. We can say for certain that Spanish wine dates back to at least those days.
The first wines produced in Spain were strong. We can think of them as either sweet or rancios (rancid). Rancios wines were totally oxidized and heavily reduced, becoming safe in terms of storage. Wines were heady to following the Mediterranean tradition. But the wines that were produced inland, far from the Mediterranean coast (more driven towards commerce) could have had a bigger resemblance with the wines we know today.
In all cases, oxidation posed always a great problem. A solution for this problem, the most obvious one, was to develop rancio-style wines and to acquire a taste for those. Problem solved!
The ancient Spanish wine sector is still dynamic and modern in spite of being thousand years old.
Spain has the biggest vineyard area on Earth with more than one million hectares. But it is only the third wine producer because its old vines do not produce high yields.
All the Spanish provinces are growing vines but only a few regions are producing high-quality wines. The wine region star of Spain is Rioja.
Spain has a high number of indigenous grapes which can be used to produce the best of the country’s wines. Tempranillo is a well-known red grape cultivated in mild conditions.
Garnacha Tinta (Grenache) produces young wines with high alcohol levels.
Rioja’s best wines are made with Graciano which gives them strong black fruit flavours, high tannins and acidity.
Verdejo is a white grape which produces crisp light fruit-driven wines. They can be rich and full-bodied.
Albariño is successful in the northwest of Spain because it can produce aromatic wines with stone fruit flavours.
The Cava wines are a blend of Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo.
The Macabeo, named Viura in Rioja, make crisp white wines with herbal and spicy aromas.
International varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay are used in Spain to make easily quality wines so they are beginning to be more popular in this country.
For a taste of good Spanish wines, check out Las Campanas and Valduero which were recently added to aeclub.com.my.