With over two thousand years of winemaking tradition, Spain is one of those countries that positively impacted the history and success of European wines in the world.
The first traces of wine production date back to the 2nd century BC, but the commercial fortune of Spanish wines mainly connects to Jerez (or Sherry), the fortified wine that became particularly popular in the English courts in early 1500. The success of Jerez, however, didn’t last that long. Because of political tensions between the two countries, England imposed heavy taxes on it. Later on, in the late 1800s, as in all other European countries, phylloxera drastically devastated the vines. This pest damaged the country’s viticulture and caused the extinction of many native species.
In 1932 a few decades after recovering from this dreadful epidemic, Spain introduced the country’s first system of wine quality control. Despite this important addition and although the wine has been traditionally part of this land since immemorial time, quality production is a path that the country has undertaken only in the early 1980s. This is due in part to the changing economic and political conditions after the end of Franco dictatorship, which allowed substantial development opportunities and investments. Finally, in the last twenty years, Spain has managed to prove its enormous potential in wine production.
What is most striking about this country is its strong vocation for its indigenous grapes, contrary to many other European countries where the international grape varieties have spread quickly following recent commercial trends.
Spain also possesses the largest area under vine in the world; however, it is only the third largest producer after Italy and France. Its production status stays as third largest mainly due to the large amount of old vineyards planted in arid and infertile soils that give rather small yields.
Probably Spain’s most famous wine region, Rioja is well known for the production of impressive, rich and soft red wines based on Tempranillo (the most representative Spanish grape variety), traditionally aged in wooden barrels for relatively long periods. Although these red wines made Rioja popular for over a century, this region also produces interesting whites and refreshing rosés from various indigenous grapes such as Garnacha, Graciano, Macabeo, and Garnacha Blanca.
Ribera del Duero
Ribera del Duero is an upcoming region producing mainly red wines from Tinto Fino considered by many as a genetic mutation of Tempranillo. These wines are robust, concentrated and rich. Here, as in Rioja, the long barrel aging process, mainly in American oak, is a common practice.
Contrary to the majority of the wine regions of Spain, Rias Baixas is particularly known for its whites. Here the Albariño grape with its intense aromatic nose and a vibrant acidity is the undisputed star of the wine scene. This remarkable success has been determined in large part by new oenological practices, and above all, by the choice of refining and fermenting wines in steel rather than wood.
Less popular than Rioja, Priorat is a very small region located in Catalonia and considered, among experts, as one of the most interesting areas of all Spain. Here, wines are made mainly from Cariñena and Garnacha, with little quantities of Tempranillo and some international grapes. They are quite structured and robust, alcoholic and tannic, concentrated and rich, produced from vineyards giving rather low yields. Unlike the Rioja, in the Priorat wines are usually aged in French barrels rather than American oak.
The Penedès region is another little exception in Spanish oenology. Since 1872 this interesting region of Catalonia produces the classic sparkling wine called Cava made with Xarel-lo, Macabeo and Parellada grapes, three local white varieties, in addition to an increasing use of Chardonnay.
Among the other areas of interest are Jerez in Andalusia, historically known for the homonymous fortified wine aged with the peculiar Solera method; Navarra, near the Rioja, particularly famous for its good rosé wines; Somontano, located at the foot of the Pyrenees, that produces excellent whites from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc; Rueda, mainly known for its Verdejo-based white wines and Toro, located near Rueda, producing intense red wines from Tempranillo grapes.
We carry a variety of different Spanish wines suitable for every occasion. Below is our current inventory, but because our selection changes frequently, be sure to stop by the shop to see our full selection or give us a call for deliveries to your home, office or hotel in NYC.