A country full of diversity from top to bottom and left to right. With world famous regions such as Rioja, Navarra and Ribera del Duero, Spain is a powerhouse of wine production. At Cheers we also champion some of the lesser known wine regions of Spain such as Jumilla, Manchuela and Campo de Borja. Grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Albariño, Viura and Monastrell are well known in Spain but we are discovering more and more native varieties such as Bobal and Mando to name a few that are very exciting. Spanish wine is a very important category for Cheers.
A vast area of Spain is under vine, the largest in the world almost 1 million hectares and the third biggest producer of wine behind Italy and France. There are 65 regions making wine across the length and breadth of the country.
Spain has a classification system consisting of 5 levels of quality.
DOCa, or in Catalan DOQ, standing for Denominacion de Origen Calificada or Denomiacio d’Origen Qualificada, there are 2 DOCa’s Rioja DOCa and Priorat DOQ.
DO means Denominaciones de Origen, there are 67.
DO de Pago, for single estates with an international reputation, there are 14 of these.
Vdlt Vinos de la Terra
Vdm Vinos de Mesa
This region in Southern Spain is the second largest wine area, divided into 8 provinces. Stretching from the Atlantic coast in the west to the Mediterranean in the east it encompasses the famous Jerez region producing Sherry.
An area in north eastern Spain where the terrain varies enormously from permanent glaciers in the Pyrenees to green and lush valleys. The River Ebro runs from west to east across the region. Some of our best value for money wines come from this area, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, Cariñena and Somontano all produce brilliant wines at very reasonable price points.
Castilla y León
The largest region in Spain but very sparsely populated. Completely landlocked this area in North west Spain includes such famous areas such as Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Bierzo and Toro.
A large autonomous community in the centre of Spain, very sparsely populated, La Mancha is a windswept, battered plateau which is home to an increasing number of wineries. Jumilla is one of the leading wine producing areas of Spain. This region also has 8 estates classified at the very top called Vino de Pago, there are only 14 in all of Spain.
Tucked into the northeast of Spain with Barcelona as it’s capital this area has a long tradition of winemaking, in particular sparkling wines. In the early 1870’s in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia by Josep Raventos of Cordoniu, Cava was invented. Today Catalonia is the second largest producer of wine in Spain. The only DOQ is in this area, Priorat, producing powerful red wines. The grape variety found in most Priorat wines is Garnacha Tinta, also Cariñena (or Samso), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.
An area on the Mediterranean coast south of Barcelona which has 3 regions producing increasingly high quality wines, including the Wines ‘n Roses winery we have just imported to the UK. There are also 2 Vino do Pago estates.
The best known areas are Utiel-Requena, Alicante and Valencia. Red wines are produced from Bobal, Garnacha, Monastrell and Mando grape varieties which are indigenous to the region. White wines are also produced from a huge range of grape varieties, we have a very good Verdejo from Wines ‘n Roses.
In the northwest corner of Spain this region has 5 DO’s. A wet and cooler area than the rest of Spain it has become famous for its top quality dry white wine, Albariño, beautifully suited for the incredible variety of sea food found in this area. The 5 wine regions are Monterrei, Rias Baixas, Ribeiro Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras. The majority of wines produced are from white grapes, a small amount of red is made from Mencia variety, a light style.
Rias Baixas is by far the most important exporter of Albariño wine.
A community in the very north of Spain, bordering the Basque region, La Rioja and Aragon in Spain and Nouvelle Aquitaine in France.
Navarra is a Spanish DOP, in the south of the region with vineyards stretching from the foot of the Pyrenees to the River Ebro. It has moved from mainly Rosé wines and now produces red and White wines.
Rioja region is in the Navarre community, also it’s own region of La Rioja and the Basque province of Alava. There are also 3 Vino de Pago estates in this region.
Next to Navarre in the north of Spain is the Basque region. The main wine they are known for is Txacoli, a thin dry white which is naturally slightly fizzy and is poured from a height into your glass! Very refreshing and a perfect aperitif.
A region in Southeast Spain on the Mediterranean coast with vineyards inland, there are 3 DO’s, Bullas, Jumilla, and Yecla. An area of extreme climatic conditions with very hot days in July and August, 45C not unusual, and cool nights and very little rainfall throughout the year.
Some amazing wines from Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) are coming out of this region, wines from Finca Bacara are all good examples of these.
A community in northern Spain, its capital city is Logroño, bordering the Basque in the north, Navarre to north east, Aragón to the south east, and Castilla y León to the west. The least populated region of Spain.
A wine producing area for over 1000 years, since 1925 there have been 7 permitted grape varieties in Rioja wines, 4 red and 3 white. In 2007 they allowed several more varieties to be used, the original four red grapes were Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo and Graciano. The 3 whites were Viura, aka Macabeo, Garnacha Blanca, and Malvasia.
Added to the permitted red grapes were Maturana Tinta which is indigenous to the area and can be made as a single varietal wine. White varieties are several local like Tempranillo Blanco, Turruntes, and Maturana Blanca , these are permitted in any amount in White Rioja wine. The international varieties, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdejo are permitted but not in dominant percentages.
There are 3 sub regions in Rioja, Rioja Alta, with higher elevation than the other areas this region tends to produce a lighter old world style of Rioja. Some of the most famous names are based in Haro which is the largest town in Rioja Alta, Muga, CVNE, La Rioja Alta , Roda and Bodegas Bilbainas to name a few.
Rioja Alavesa situated to the east of Alta region, this area produces slightly richer and fuller styles, poor soil quality means lower density of vines planted but a very productive region.
Rioja Oriental, previously known as Rioja Baja, the lower region, more Mediterranean in climate, hotter summers resulting in deeply coloured highly alcoholic wines, some used for blending with Rioja from other regions.
Rioja laws and age classification.
The wines of Rioja are aged in 225 litre barriques, unaged wines which are bottled straight from stainless steel tanks are known as Joven wines.
There are 3 degrees of ageing, Crianza for red wines is a minimum of 12 months in barrel and 12 months in bottle, for whites and rose wines the total time is the same but a minimum of 6 months in barrel.
Reserva, a minimum of 36 months ageing, at least 12 months in barrel followed by 24 months in bottle for red wines. Very often the time is exceeded. White wines have to have 24 months, but only 6 months in barrel.
Gran Reserva, red wines must have 24 months in barrel, followed by 36 months in bottle, white wines have to spend 48 months in total but only 6 months in barrel.
All the above are minimum times, many producers exceed those by varying amounts, Vina Tondonia keeping their wines in barrel for many years before release. Our current vintage is 2006 for Tondonia Reserva.