Why Spain? - Spanish Palate
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WHY SPAIN?

Over the last 15 years, Spanish wine has grown immensely in popularity and it is no surprise to see why.

Spain is without doubt one of the world´s most exciting, colourful and simply amazing wine making countries in the world. With more land under vine than any other country, with over 70 Denominations of Origen and some of the world´s oldest vines, the wines of Spain are a solid bet every time!

While Spain has made wine since time began, the revolution that has taken place over the last 25 years has positioned Spain as a leading producing of quality wines at all price levels.

The transformation of Spain´s image and quality over the last 25 years has been remarkable. A group of pioneering winemakers, grape growers and marketers have used new technologies and lots of imagination to bring Spain back to life and position it as one of the most exciting wine countries in the world.

 

This new generation has also known how to unite tradition and innovation to produce unique wines of great character, depth and all at amazing prices. Consumers world over are now beginning to understand that Spain is no longer about entry level wines or cheap Sangria and that Spain is a great bet every time.

 

Spain has more acres under vine than any other country in the world: over 3 million acres.  Over the past two decades, the popularity of Spanish wines has exploded and they continue to gain greater share of all the major export markets.  Spain is the world’s second largest exporter, surpassed only by Italy. Almost 70 DO (Denominación de Origen) regions across Spain offer an impressive array of wines from traditional to international grape varieties made in classic to modern styles covering every price point from value-oriented “table wine” to limited production “super cuvées.”

The finest Spanish producers are combining the best traditions in vineyard management with cutting-edge winemaking methods. With this hybrid approach, winemakers are producing outstanding wines. Gone is the image of a country whose only well known wines were Rioja and Sherry;  new regions, rediscovered grape varieties and wine styles are fast emerging from every corner of Spain’s diverse wine landscape.  It’s a very exciting time for wines from Spain.

 

From north, south, east to west, the varied climates and terrains of Spain allow out of the box winemakers to make an incredibly varied array of interesting, quality wines. From the crisp, fresh whites of green northern Spain, to big bold reds from the central sun-drenched plains to rich, sweet aged sherry´s, Spain has it all.

SPAIN IN FIGURES

Spain is one of the largest wine producing countries in the world and first in the ranking of hectares vine and production in litres in 2013/2014 overtaking Italy and France. Spain is also the first exporter in terms of volume in 2014 although third in value.

The wine sector as a whole has huge implications in Spain, not only economically but also on a social level, an environment level and as sector which leads the way in promoting Spain throughout the world.

History of Spanish Wine

There is no clear unification on the place where the first vineyards in Spain were planted and those who introduced the winemaking techniques. Several sources point out that the first vineyards were settled on the Andalusian south-west coast constituting the point of starting and the place of the oldest vineyards in Spain.

This theory seems to be the most probable, and is supported by the presence of Phoenicians in the peninsula about 3000 years ago. This merchant town founded a port in the southwest that they called Gadir (today Cádiz). Afterwards, they moved inland, creating another town called Xera (now Jerez) in whose surrounding mountains, they planted vines. The warm climate of the area favored the strong and sweet nature of the wines, so they could be transported for long time. This fact, Together with the merchant spirit of the Phoenicians, assumed that already at the beginning of the Christian era, Spanish wines became one of the most coveted trade goods in the Mediterranean area and North Africa.

Afterwards it has been the Romans who continued the production of wines in the peninsula, for which they incorporated their particular methods of elaboration. Among them stands the breeding in clay-amphorae located in high and sunny rooms near chimneys. Apparently, the wines obtained thus textures, flavors and fragrances of fruits and flowers. The necessity of supplying the vast empire and its legions contributed to intensify the already remarkable commercial traffic that had reached the Spanish wines.

The decline of the Roman Empire and the subsequent barbarian invasion was a brake on the development of viticulture in Spain. The first Germanic hordes destroyed many vine plantations. Subsequently, the arrival of the Visigoths on the peninsula counteracted the action of the barbarians. Much more civilized than their predecessors by the contact with the Romans in the bordering provinces of the Empire, they gave great importance to the viticulture.

The arrival of the Arabs in the eighth century also resulted in some difficulties for the development of the vines and wine making due to the Koranic prohibition of consuming fermented and alcoholic beverages. In spite of this, the cultivation of the grapevine continued and even improved during the period of Muslim domination. The first cause is found in the grape itself as fruit and its juice: there was no reason to ban its consumption or the unfermented must. Therefore, their cultivation could not be prevented, at least for non-Muslims. The second cause is the known permissiveness of some more liberal dynasties towards the dominated Christians, who allowed to continue with the cultivation of their vineyards and the elaboration of the wine, especially in the monasteries.

UNDERSTANDING SPANISH WINES

  • Almacenista: An agent who buys and blends young wines, then ages and sells them, similar to negociant-eleveur in Burgundy
  • Añejo: Añejado por Literally “old” or “aged by,” term used only for wines Vino de la Tierra or higher
  • Barrica: Small cask (usually 225 liters) used for maturing wine
  • Blanco: White wine
  • Bodega: Literally a wine cellar, but used to describe a concern which may have grown, produced, shipped or sold the wine. Without further qualification, it normally means that the bodega has made and shipped the wine.
  • Bodeguero: The person who owns or runs the Bodega, and produces wine (as opposed to cosechero)
  • Cava: Sparkling wines made in the classic Champagne method, usually from Catalonia Comarca Subdistrict
  • Contraetiqueta: Official back seal on the bottle certifying the wine’s DO aging and quality level (i.e. Crianza)
  • Cosecha: Vintage year
  • Cosechero: Grape growers or farmers, typically they have owned their vineyards for generations
  • Criado por: Matured and/or blended by
  • Denominación de Oriegn: The guarantee of the regulatory body for a demarcated region. Typically the DO Origen (DO) regulations will specify requirements for grape varietals used, maximum yields, geographical location of vineyards, length of time for aging, and sometimes size of barrel used.
  • Dulce: Sweet
  • Elaborado por: Matured and/or blended by
  • Rancio: An unusual, intense wine marked by oxidative aromas and flavors, usually over 16% alcohol
  • Roble: Literally “oak,” the term is used to signify that a Joven wine has been aged a few months in oak barrels
  • Rosado: Rosé
  • Seco: Dry
  • Semiseco: Semi-dry
  • Tinto: Red wine
  • Vendimia: Vintage or harvest
  • Viña: viñedo Meaning vineyard, this term is used rather loosely and does not necessarily mean that the wine originated exclusively from a named vineyard
  • Vino: Wine
  • Vino de la Tierra: Table wine of superior quality made in a demarcated region without a DO
  • Vino de Mesa: Table wine, either blended or without DO
  • Vitivinicultor: A grower who also makes the wine. This is a new Spanish term because previously these roles were not combined; it is equivalent to a vigneron