Is There More To Spanish Wines Than Just Rioja?

By: Louise Truswell


Any Spanish wine tour wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Rioja. It has been the epitome of Spanish wine for generations after all. However, Rioja is not the only wine coming out of this country. Here we take a look at how other Spanish wine regions stand up to their famous rival.

Many newcomers to wine confuse Rioja with a grape variety. However, it is, in fact, the northern, inland Spanish wine region from where it is produced. Wines from Rioja are generally made from the Tempranillo grape, although they are often blended with Garnacha (Grenache). This produces a medium to full bodied wine with lots of red fruit. The distinctive woody and, sometimes, vanilla and caramel tones are the result of oak ageing and all traditional Riojas are produced in this way. The prices and styles of Rioja wines vary considerably.

Nearby Navarra might not have the stature of Rioja. However, the quality and style of the wine coming out of this region stands up to that of its neighbour. Made with Tempranillo and Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll generally come across similar tasting wines, yet without the price tag.

Moving over to the east coast of the country is Catalunya. Here the small Spanish wine - making region of Priorat produces some exciting wines from the Cariena and Garnacha (Grenache) grapes, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The nearby region of Penedes is known for its Cava.

Further down the coast, the Spanish wine regions around Valencia and Alicante have benefited from increased investment in recent years. Jumilla and Yecla, in particular, have been doing big things with Monastrell (Mourvedre).

Moving inland is the expansive Spanish wine region of La Mancha. Over recent years, this region has seen a shift from producing light to dark skinned grapes. Now, much of the output is red, focusing on the Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes, along with international varieties.

North west of La Mancha is Castilla y Leon. Here you will find Ribera del Duero, which is responsible for producing some of Spain’s most expensive wines. Nearby Cigales is also producing some serious reds. If you like refreshing white wines, try the Verdejo grape from Rueda.

In the north west corner of Spain is Galicia. This Spanish wine region is particularly green compared to other Spanish regions. Rias Baixas, in particular, is known for its refreshing and zingy Albarino. Riberio also produces a lot on the white front.

Finally, to the south of the country is Andalucia. Any tour of the region wouldn’t be complete without tasting some Sherry, which is by far and away Andalucia’s most famous produce.

Hopefully reading this article will have demonstrated that, while Rioja has got an enormous amount to offer in its own right, other Spanish wine regions are also well worth exploring.

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Louise Truswell works in the wine industry. She has been writing about wine for couple of years and likes writing about Spanish wine. To learn more about this amazing country and choose from a selection of its wines, visit -www.virginwines.com

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