As we mentioned last week, Spain is one of the most important wine producing countries in the world -and grapes, of course-. It is, in fact, the region with the largest vineyard area (1,018 million hectares), and the third in production (29.7 million hectoliters). The most widely planted grape varieties in our country, among the best known worldwide, are Tempranillo and Airén.
The first of these, Tempranillo, is native to La Rioja. Highly valued for its high quality, it is one of the grapes that best withstands the aging process. For this reason, it is usually used for crianza and reserve wines, which give rise to balanced and aromatic wines with hints of spices and toast. Its cultivation has spread throughout the country -it is also found in Castilla-la Mancha, Catalonia and Castilla y León-. This variety is not only used to produce red wines, but also white wines, blanc de noir and very interesting rosés, such as our Barcolobo Lacrimae Rerum rosé, winner of a gold medal at Decanter. Typical notes of this variety are plum, cherry, fruits of the forest, floral notes, after aging appear tobacco, vanilla, leather,…
Airén, native to Castilla-La Mancha, is the most widely planted white grape variety in our country. It is used to make “neutral” wines, of moderate intensity, with a tendency towards fruity nuances. The vine, very resistant to drought – capable of adapting to less fertile soils and extreme climates – produces a yellow grape with a medium-thick skin and a colorless broth.
But these are not the only types of grapes that stand out in Spain. Among the red grapes, we find a great selection, of which we will highlight the following: Alicante or Garnacha Tintorera, Bobal, Garnacha and Monastrell.
The most outstanding variety is Garnacha, which competes with Tempranillo for the position of the most widely planted grape in our country, since its cultivation is widespread in all wine regions. Specifically, the area of Castilla y León. But later we will talk about the most important grapes of our land. As a result of its juice, we find young wines, with fruity touches and high alcohol content. Although years ago it was one of the preferred grapes for the elaboration of rosés, nowadays many single varietal reds are made from this variety, some of them from old vines as in Priorat.
We also find the Garnacha Tintorera grape, native to Aragon. It ages very well, but oxidizes easily. For this reason, it is usually combined with other varieties, giving rise to intense wines with a high tannin content.
To finish this selection, we move to the Spanish Levante region, where two very important native grape varieties are grown in the country: Bobal and Monastrell, which are very different from each other. The former, very similar to Garnacha, produces a young fruity wine, with which rosés are made and are part of many coupages. Monastrell, on the other hand, has a high alcohol content and is usually used for aging to enhance its nuances. It is a variety that has been tamed and makes fantastic wines in the Jumilla area.
Among the white grapes varieties, we also have great diversity throughout the Spain geography. In this case, we will talk about Albariño, Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, Parellada and Xareló.
Possibly, one of the best known varieties is Albariño, native to Galicia and the base of the white wines D.O. Rías Baixas. Perfect for humid and temperate climates, it is characterized by intense fruity touches, especially apple. It is a wine with remarkable acidity and high alcohol content.
If we continue to the north, two types of white grapes stand out in Catalonia: Parellada, with late ripening, which is used for young and aromatic wines, also for cavas; as well as Xareló, native to the Catalan area, with fruity touches and destined for the production of cava.
We close our wine tour in Andalusia. Here we find two important white grape varieties: Palomino and Pedro Ximénez. Most of the Palomino is destined to the production of fortified wines from Jerez, from finos and olorosos to manzanilla. They stand out for their fresh touches and almond nuances. On the other hand, Pedro Ximénez, native to the area, is used for most of the wines of D.O. Montilla-Moriles. The result is a wine with a high sugar content and a taste and aroma reminiscent of raisins due to its production process (sun-dried grapes and aging in soleras).
White and red grapes, which paint the map of Spain. Do you want to know which are the most important varieties of the northern part of the country and of Castilla y León? Later, we will discover the most remarkable types of the land where Barcolobo is born.