Red wine is King in Spain. It’s a staple of every day life, every day meals. Delicious red wine is found all over the country. Just like France and Italy, Spanish wine is full of history great regions and history.
But to be clear; there are three premier sources for red wine in Spain that every wine fan must know and that’s Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat. Now that’s not saying that La Mancha or Catayuld or even Montsant are not doing good stuff. They really are!
The main three to know are Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat.
Here’s a little tidbit of info on the characteristics of wine of each place; enough to be dangerous on each region and one wine to look for from each.
Rioja: Rioja wine has a elegant cherry nose and has a dusty spice notes They are aged well. They are often blended from dozens of vineyards. There are 15-20,000 grape growers but about only 700 wineries. That gives you an idea of what is going on in general. Tempranillo is the main grape in Rioja. Crianzas are aged 2 years with at least 6 months in oak barrels. Reservas and Grand Reservas much longer
Ribera del Duero: Ribera del Duero has the distinction of being the second most famous wine region in Spain. Rioja does not let them live that down. It does not mean their wines are any less spectacular. On the contrary. As in Rioja the grape used is Tempranillo. But they call it Tinto Fino. Ribera’s climate is hotter, more sun. So the wine is more intense but no less complex to Rioja’s. It’s just a different interpretation that blows your mind. More than often the same methods are used as Rioja’s but not always which adds more creativity sometimes.
Priorat: Priorat is the latest and greatest new best region. Southwest of Barcelona and not very big on the map, yet mountainous. But holy smokes it’s powerful wine. In the 1980’s a bunch of renegade wine makers went there and started making incredible wines. Great food wine too. This place was abandoned for years adfter the Spanish Civil war. Using grapes like Carignane and Garnacha started to make these luscious and exotic wines that got the worlds attention in a big way. Like a big bang! Instant classic wine region. Just like that! Unbelievable but true.
Bottles to try…all clearly under $35
1. Rioja – La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva
2. Ribera del Duero – Tinto Pesquera Crianza
3. Mas Alta Black Slate Vilella Alta