Over the last three decades, Spanish wines have made a huge leap forward and they are now deservedly recognised as among some of the best in the World. The first thing to look for is the Denominación de Origen, which, like the French Apellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC), gives a guarantee of authenticity, referring to the region the wine was produced in.
Vino tinto, or red wine, derives from many parts of Spain and, generally speaking, Rioja wines were long considered to be Spain’s finest, but many now prefer reds from Ribera del Duero, which has really risen to prominence since the mid 1970’s. There are also very good tintos being produced in Navarra, Catalunya, Montsant, Navarra and Somontano. Other regions to watch out for and to taste are the rising stars of Priorat, Toro, and, more locally, Ronda. Spanish whites, which were never much more than a stock accompaniment to sea food dishes and paella, have also undergone a complete transformation and those from two regions in particular, Rueda from Valladolid and Albariño, under the D.O. Rías Baixas from Galicia, head the market in terms of quality, crisp dry wines with fruity notes and floral undertones. There are also, expectedly, some great rosé wines being produced in Spain, at a very reasonable price, such as Chivite’s Gran Fuedo.
Another big revolution has taken place with Cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne and no Spanish celebration, fiesta or party is complete without the consumption of quantities of Cava, whose bubbly effervescence gets everyone in the mood. Look out for Codorníu and Freixenet, the biggest producers, among a host of others.
Whether you know Spanish wines quite well or are more of a novice, our advice to you is experiment with an open mind to find out what suits your taste.
WORDS BY Iain Blackwell