About Other Spain
The most popular red varieties of Spain include Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache). Whites don't garner quite as much recognition, but there are some regional varieties not to be missed, like Albarino and Verdejo. The popular red regions of Spain include Rioja, known for its outstanding wines of the Tempranillo grape; Ribera del Duero, producing high quality reds from Tempranillo and Garnacha; Galacia, with the sub-region of Rias Baixas, home to the deliciously crisp and floral Albarino grape; and Priorat, a region increasing in popularity with its high-quality cult reds. Other regions of note are Rueda, growing the Verdejo grape, La Mancha, a wide desert region, covered in the most planted white variety in the world, Airen, and Jumilla, making wines based on Monestrell (Mourvedre).
Spain's wine laws are based on the Denominacion de Origen (DO) classification system, devised in the 1930's. A four tiered system, the most basic level is Vina de Mesa (table wine) followed by Vino de la Tierra (country wine), DO and at the top DOC. Currently, only Rioja and Priorat have DOC status, while over 55 Dos scatter the country.
Most DO regions are classified and regulated by how long they age the wines. On a red wine label, one may find the terms Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva, denoting the wine's barrel and bottle time. Crianza is usually two years between barrel and bottle (the time in each depends on the DO and/or the winemaker), Reserva up to 4 years and Gran Reserva 5 – 6 years. Classifications of each region and wine are controlled by the region's Consejo Regulador.
Other regions of Spain include:
La ManchaHome of most of the Airen grapes planted as well as Don Quioxte, La Mancha is a vast desert-like area of flat land and penetrating sun.
SherryThe Sherry region is located near Spain’s southernmost point along the coast. Sherry produces white varietals used to make the fortified wines from which it received its namesake such as Palomino, Palomino Fino, Palomino de Jerez, Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel.
PenedésThe Penedés wine region is located in the province of Barcelona, along the eastern coast of Spain. The Penedés wine region consists of 185 vineyards. Penedes is home to Spain’s sparkling wine, Cava, and also produces Garnacha, Merlot, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Monastrell, Carignane, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (reds), as well as Macabeo (Viura), Parellada, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Moscatel de Alejandria.
YeclaLocated in southeastern Spain, Yecla is situated in the province of Murica. Neighboring the Jumilla region, Yecla is one of Spain’s smallest wine regions. Common red varietals include Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cencibel, Merlot, Tintorera and Syrah. White varietals include Merseguera, Airen, Macabeo, Malvasia and Chardonnay.
About PortugalPort, Madeira and corks is often overlooked when consumers think of red and white still wines – but take note! The table wines of the region have improved dramatically in the past few decades. The winemaking areas trickle down the country's narrow shape, bordered by the Atlantic on the west and Spain on the east.
Notable FactsFurthest to the north lies the region Minho, which produces the slightly spritzy white wine, Vinho Verde. Translated, it means green wine, not because the wine is green, but because it is meant to be drunk in its youth. Vinho Verde is a light, refreshing wine, low in alcohol and with a slight spritz. It can be made with a number of grapes, but the best whites are made with Alvarinho (same as Spain's Albarino). Red Vinho Verde exists too, but not much on the export market. For other red table wines, the three most common regions are the Douro, Dao, Bairrada and Alentejo.
In the Douro, home of Port, red wines are made from the primary port grape, Touriga Nacional, as well as Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo). Still red wines from the area are good quality and contain fruity, spicy notes. The Dao and Bairrida areas use Port grapes, as well as the local Tempranillo clone. They produce high quality, good value red wines. Bairrida also makes a few sparklers. Alentejo is a super big and super hot region in the south of Portugal making reds and whites.