Spanish wines account for a massive amount of the wine market, being the third largest wine producers in the world. With over a million acres dedicated to the growing of vineyards, that´s more land than any other wine producing country. However only a few regions have managed to get the world recognition they deserve.
We don´t expect you to go off and start producing your own wine. We´d just like to give you some information about the Spanish wines produced in the different regions Andalusia, the Duero Valley, the Ebro Valley, Mediterranean Coast, Meseta - Central Plateau and Northwest “Green” Spain. We´ve also suggested some wines to look out for when you next visit the supermarket or off-licence. Put in alphabetical order, we found this was probably the only way to make sense of the information, and of course it puts Andalusia first!
We´ve also got a great Sangria recipe for those who want something a little more refreshing, but that still packs a punch. Click here to take you to the bottom of the page for more details.
Being a very hot and dry region, Andalusia has four very distinct areas - Jerez, Malaga and Sierra Malaga, Montilla-Moriles and Condado de Huelva.
Jerez produces one of the most famous types of wine in the world - Sherry. With cream, sweet and dry Sherry´s there really is something for all tastes. We went on a tour of the famous “Tio Pepe” factory in Jerez a couple of years ago. What a great trip, very informative and of course delicious, as we got to try some of the Sherry´s while we were there. John is now a massive fan of the “Fino” wine produced by the company! However with a sweet tooth, I prefer their sweeter variety of “Nectar” made from the Pedro Ximenez grape - great for cooking, having with deserts, as well as drinking.
Malaga and Sierra Malaga is also known for it´s sweet wines. Although not producing anything near to the amount it used to before the vine-threatening disease in the 19th century, this area is making a come back. These wines are great with paté and cheese. A couple to look out for are “Carpe Diem” from the Tierras de Mollina vineyard, and the “Malaga Virgen” from the Lopez Hermanos vineyard. Visit the Wine Museum in Mijas Pueblo to find out more about the wines produced here.
The Montilla-Moriles region has always been second best to the Sherry producing region of Jerez. With the same grapes and similar production methods, they´ve usually fallen short. However there are a few vineyards trying to make a name for themselves. One such vineyard is that of “Lagar Blanco” which produces a deliciously sweet “Amontillado” wine. Great one to have slightly chilled with chicken or rabbit.
Condado de Huelva is again another region that suffered being so close to the Sherry producing region of Jerez. Yet it too is making a come back. There´s one vineyard in particular that´s doing thing a little differently “Agroalimentaria Virgen del Rocío” in Almonte. They produce the only sparkling wine in Andalusia - “Raigal Brut” which is fermented underground in large subterranean vats.
This region is home to one of the most famous wineries in Spain - Vega Sicilia, founded in 1864 it has helped put Spanish wines on the map. However, John´s favourite from this region comes from one of the many “Torres” vineyards. Torres are the largest producers of wine in Spain, exporting to around 140 countries with vineyards in other areas of Spain, Chile and California. John´s favourite is called “Celeste”, he says it has "a really smooth flavour", and can be drunk with or without food.
This region is, of course, famous for it´s Rioja wine. There are some 14,000 vineyards in the region producing red, rosado (rosé)and white wines which are exported around the world, and can be found on the shelves of most supermarkets and wine shops. One of our favourites comes from the “Bodegas Aragonesas” and is their “Don Ramon”. It´s got a very soft, smooth flavour and a delicious sweet, spicy aroma and is great to have with any meal.There´s also a great Chardonnay from the "Principe de Viana" vineyard which is lovely wit seafood, pasta, salads and vegetables.
This area produces a wide variety of wines, from crisp, sparkling Cava wines to dry whites, and then on to lovely rosado´s and fruity reds. One area which produces a great wine is the Jumilla region, part or Murcia. For a smooth, intensely fruity wine with a hint of spice, try the “Finca Luzon 2009 Red Blend”. This vineyard have been producing some delicious wines since 1916, and this particular wine is great to have with vegetables, pasta and rice dishes.
This is the largest of the wine producing regions of Spain with almost two-thirds of the countries vineyard located here and produces red, rosado and white wine, and most of the Spanish brandy. Spain´s first ever “Denomination of Origin” was granted by the Spanish State to the “Dominio de Valdepusa” bodega. However the wine we´d like to highlight is from the “Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce” in the Manchuela region and is called “Clos Lojen”. It´s a lovely fruity red wine and ideal to have with steak and duck.
With large areas of lush green valleys and very mountainous parts too, the region manages to produce some great wines, even though many of the vineyards are on very steep hillsides. They are particularly well known for the white wines they produce, and a particular favourite of ours is “Pezas da Portela” from the “Valdesil” vineyard. It´s got a fresh, fruity taste, (a bit like a French Burgundy) but is a bit more expensive than other wines from the same region. Nice wine to have with fish and cheese in particular.
How to prepare
Place the ice cubes into a large serving jug. Pour in the red wine, orange juice and the Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Brandy. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved before adding the sparkling water just before serving. Stir in the frozen red berries and garnish the jug with fruit.
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