Puerto Banus Marbella
Guide to Wines
Wine tourism is not as developed in Spain as it is in other major countries, so very few wineries, called bodegas in Spain, have tasting rooms. Instead, tastings are given as bodegas tours.
Wine is like art. You don't have to know a lot about it to enjoy it. Trust your senses and drink what you like. Trying new wines will expand your enjoyment, and you will learn more about your own tastes. like art, food and music, the more you know about something, the more you will appreciate it. It is the same with wine, and the best way to learn about wines is to taste them.
The Spanish word for tasting is ´cata`. Spain is a World class producer of wines, both in quality and quantity. Better known are the quality reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, reds and whites from Rueda, ´Sherries` from Jerez, and a fine sparkling wine known as Cava. Coto de Hayas Rosada 2000 (rose) is one to try this summer slightly chilled is the best way to enjoy it, recognizable by its bright pink colour.
Vino Joven - This is young wine that has spent no time in oak or less than the legal minimum of one year for Crianza wines.
Vino de Crianza - This is the wine that has spent the minimum time in oak. Wine labeled Crianza must be at least two years of age, of which one year was spent in the barrel. Unaged wine is labeled sin Crianza.
Reserva - This is a good quality wine, with reds aged for a minimum of three years, at least one of which must be spent in oak barrels. Whites and roses must be aged for two years, of which six months must be spent in oak barrels.
Gran Reserva - This is top-quality wine from a great vintage that is aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks and three in bottle for reds, and at least four years for whites and rosés, of which six months must be spent in oak barrels.
Ano - This means four years old when bottled
Osecha or Vendimia Crop - vintage
Embotellado - Estate bottled
Seco - Dry
Blanco - White
Tinto - Red
Generoso - An aperitif, dessert wine rich in alcohol
Vino De La Tierra
In 1986 this category was introduced in preparation for Spains entry into the EEC. Essentially, it is the equal of the French Vins De Pays.
Wine Growing Regions
Spain has a great range of winemaking traditions, grapes types and climates. Wines are grown predominantly in the north, central and southern regions. The north is known for its quality table wines from areas such as Rioja, Navarra, and Ribero Del Duero. Central Spain produces bulk wines in areas such as La Mancha, while the southern region is known for its aperitifs and dessert wines, called vinos generosos. Spain has more acreage under vine than any other European country, although Italy and France produce more wine. The country, with its extreme contrast of climate, from wetland to desert, and geography (Spain is almost as mountainous as Switzerland), produces many kinds of wine -- from blockbuster Riojas to sparkling cavas and fine sherries. In recent years, Spain's wines, like those of several other countries, fell out of favour as modern "world wine styles" evolved. Recent years have seen Spain regain lost ground as viticulture expanded and modern winemaking methods were adopted. Dull and heavy wines are a thing of thepast, and Spain now produces some of Europe's most interesting wines.
Spanish white wines are typically made from the albariño grape. Whites are changing from the traditional, heavily oaked style with flavours of honey and almonds to the fresh, light, crisp citrusy styles that are in vogue today. White wines are made in Castilla, Catalonia and Galicia.
Cava is a sparkling white wine made using the Method Champenoise. The grape varieties permitted in the production of cava are parellada, macabeo, xarel-lo, chardonnay and smaller amounts of monastrel and pinot noir. Cavas are classified according to their sweetness. They range from Extra Brut, which is driest, through Brut, Extra Seco, Seco, Semi Seco to Dulce, the sweetest. The Denominacion de Origen cava is unique in that unlike the other wine regions of Spain, D.O. Cava is notrestricted to one particular area. The areas permitted to produce cava include Rioja, Penedés Navarra, Aragon and Catalonia. Penedés produces 95 per cent of all cava produced in Spain.
(Rosadas) In Spain, magnificent examples of fruity and young rosés are to be found in Navarre, Castilla, Catalonia, Aragon, Rioja, and Levant.
After cavas, red wines have been Spain's strong suit. With rapidly evolving winemaking methods, red wines today are typically vibrant and fruity, and move more quickly from barrel to bottle. The grapes used to make these wines are most likely to be blends of indigenous Spanish and imported French. Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Penedés are known for their fine reds. Sherry Real sherry comes only from the Jerez Region of Spain and is one of the world's classic wines. Sherry is made in many styles: Fino is a light pale golden coloured dry wine. The alcohol content is 15.5 - 16.5 per cent. Amontillado is an older fino, richer in character with a soft copper or amber colour. The alcohol content is 18 - 20 per cent. Oloroso is a rich dark dry mahogany wine with a full rich nose. Most olorosos have an alcohol content of 21 per cent. Cream sherries are a blend of dry oloroso and sweet pedro jimenez. These sherries are dark rich wines with a soft sweet finish and an alcohol content of 20 - 22 per cent.
There are five basic quality levels of wine, according to their quality or aging:
Wine Quality Levels
1.Vino de mesa is table wine.
2. Vino joven is young wine, usually from a qualified DO region, often with a bit of aging, but not enough to be a crianza.
3. Crianza is a wine that has aged two years, with at least six months of aging in oak.
4. Reserva quality wine normally has aged at least three years --with at least one year in oak cask and two years in the bottle -- and is made from top vintages.
5. Gran quality wine has aged at least two years in oak and three years in the bottle. This wine is made from exceptional vintages.
There are said to be upwards of 600 different types of grapes grown in Spain, but fully 80 percent of the vineyards are planted with just 20 of them. These are the most common:
Tempranillo - One of Spain's finest quality black grape varieties, it is the most widely planted grape, and lends colour, bouquet and character to red wines.
Cabernet-Sauvignon - Originally from the Medoc, it is doing well in Catalonia and Navarra. There are some old plantations in Rioja and in the Ribera del Duero, while experimental plantings are being carried out in many other regions of Spain.Cariñena (Mazuelo) This red variety produces robust, well-balanced wines.
Garnacha - Vigorous and full-bodied, this grape provides high yields and makes robust wines high in alcohol.
Graciano - This low yield red grape is grown mostly in northern Spain and produces highly valued wines. It is the second most commonly planted varietal. While young wines tend to be tannic and hard, they age very well.
Monastrell - This sweet and high yield red produces wines with intense colour and high alcohol content.
Malvasia, Viura (Macabeo), Parellada and Xarello are all used to make cavas (sparkling wines).
Basic Tips For Wine Tasting.
* Remember not to shake a bottle of Wine.
* Always finish your last glass of Wine as you should not mix two different bottles of Wine in the one glass.
* To appreciate wine to its fullest it should be served in a wine glass, no more than half full.* Serve red Wines at 16-18ºC, and whites and rosés at 10-12ºC. Warming or chilling the wines in a hurry will ruin them.
* Try to remember to serve white Wine before red, young wine before aged, and the one lowest in alcohol before the more alcoholic.
* Try the Wine in your own glass to appreciate its characteristics before serving or allowing it to be served.
* Whilst drinking wines, treat with the care and respect their qualities deserve.