Saturday, February 8, 2014

Unit 5 – Day 2: The Rest of Spain

In Unit 5 of the Intensive Sommelier Training we are studied the wines of the Iberian Peninsula – Spain, Portugal, Sherry and Madera. On Days 1 and 2 we covered Spain, so in the previous review I wrote about Spain’s wine laws, geography, climate, labeling terms and Rioja. In this review I will cover the rest of Spain (excluding Sherry) including such regions as Prioriat, Ribera Del Duero, the Penedès and Rías Baixas and then review 8 wines we tasted in class. In the following review I will cover dessert wines from Southern Spain and Sherry.

This review will contain more information than what is required to be known for the Certified Sommelier certification. There are essentially two different ways to study. You can either attempt to figure out what will be required for the exam or you can learn as much as you can about the subject. If you choose the former you probably don’t really know the subject very well as you have only studied the minimum necessary to pass the exam. But, if you try to learn as much as you can you may have difficulty recalling information for the exam because much of your studying as only been logged into your short term memory. So, some of what follows should be memorized and some will be useful for future reference. Because this only a blog and not a book, I have been trying to maintain some balance between the bare minimum of what is required and what may only be required for an Advanced or Master Sommelier Examination. The learning objectives at the end of the review cover the bare minimum for what is required for the Certified Sommelier certification.

Northeastern Spain

Catalonia (Catalunya) is located in Northeastern Spain on the opposite side of the Pyrenees Mountains from Roussillon, France.

Priorat DOCa (DOQ in Catalan) is in the southwest of Catalonia and is the second region in Spain to be promoted to DOCa. Priorat derives its name from Priorato de Scala Dei, a Carthusian monastery (priory) founded on the site of where a boy supposedly had a vision of angels ascending to heaven.  The region is predominantly dedicated to producing red wine production made from Garnacha and Cariñena, along with a small amount of white and rosado wine. 
Llicorella Soil

The best vineyards in Priorat have a soil known as Llicorella. This mix of slate and quartzite is dark in color but glitters in the sun from the high crystal content. It is rocky, porous and free-draining which forces the roots to dig way down deep (up to 25 meters) into the bedrock to find pockets of water and nutrients. 

Garnacha usually dominates Priorat’s best red wines but it is often blended with Spanish and French varietals and aged in French barriques.  This is a warm Mediterranean region and grapes can easily ripen to a potential alcohol of 18% if the vineyards are not managed properly. 

The Montsant DO (Catalan pronunciation: munsan) almost completely surrounds the Priorat DOCa and it was a subzone of Tarragona until 2002.  Like Priorat, Garnacha and Cariñena are the dominant grape.

In 2009, Priorat established Vino de Pueblo  (a village category) for estate-grown wines from twelve villages, including Gratallops.   Gratallops is a small village is that has become the birthplace for a renaissance of high quality wines from the Priorat region. Within this town are 23+ officially certified cellars including some of the most famous in Spain such as: Álvaro Palacios, Clos Mogador, Clos de l'Obac, Clos Erasmus, and Mas Martinet.


Tarragona DO is much larger than Priorat DOCa which includes a portion of the Catalan coast to the west of Penedès DO.  Historically, Tarragona wines were generally fortified rancio or mistela, the Spanish version of vin de liqueur.  Today, much of the vineyard area has been converted to white varieties for Cava, but these old styles are still made in small quantities.  Currently the most substantial market for Tarragona is the production of Sacramental wine. 

The Terra Alta DO is to the southwest of Tarragona and the Conca de Barberá DO is adjacent to northern Tarragona.  Costers del Segre DO spans several noncontiguous subzones between Tarragona and Somontano: Pallars Jussà, Artesa de Segre, Valls du Riucorb, Segrià, Garrigues, Urgell and Raïmat. 

Raïmat, the smallest subzone, is also the location of an estate of the same name that was integral to the formation of the zone.  In 1914 Manuel Raventós purchased arid, infertile land in the region and 6 decades later after a total transformation of the parched land through canal construction and agricultural restoration, his estate produced its first commercial vintage. 

San Sadurní d’Anoia and Cava

San Sadurní d’Anoia is located in the Alt-Penedès. In 1872, it became the birthplace of champaña (later renamed to Cava) when Jose Raventós of Codorníu introduced método tradicional (traditional method) sparkling winemaking to Spain. Today, Codorníu is second in size only to the competing house of Freixenet, the world’s largest producer of sparkling wines. 

Cava has also contributed international sparkling wine methods and technologies, including such innovations as the gyropalette

This invention mechanized riddling, which if done by hand, is a labor-intensive process that is used to gradually shift lees from the base to the mouth of a bottle. Cava DO wines may be produced from the following grapes: Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeu (the traditional grapes), Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Garnacha Tinta, Monastrell, Trepat, and Malvasia (Subirat). Cava wines require less time on the lees than Champagne: 

Cava DO is the only Spanish Denominación de Origen that is designated after a style of wine, rather than a wine producing region. Bottles of Cava can always distinguished form other sparkling wines by a four-pointed star imprinted on the cork.

The remaining Catalan appellations include:

The Alella DO, to the northeast of Penedès, where Xarel-lo (Pansà Blanca), is used to produce still dry white wines or the blends of Cava. 

The Empordà DO is located in the northeastern corner of Spain, bordering Banyuls in Roussillon in France.  This region primarily produces rosados from Cariñena, but they also grow Garnacha (here called Garnatxa), Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), Picapoll, Macabeo, Parellada as well as international varietals such as Chardonnay for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

The Pla de Bages DO was established in 1995 and it covers only 600 hectares (1482 acres), this makes it one of the smallest and newest in Spain. The name “Bages” is reportedly derived ancient Roman city of Bacassis which was named in honor of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. It is located to the northwest of Penedès, with similar grapes. 

Catalunya DO

The Catalunya DO encompasses the entire autonomía, covering wineries not included in more specific DO zones and allowing more freedom of blending and expression from a range of sites and authorized grapes. 

Spain has two major island groups - the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa and the Balearic Islands in the middle of the Mediterranean. The Balearic Islands is closely associated with Catalan culture and it has two DO zones, Pla i Llevant and Binissalem Mallorca. They produce wines from a range of international and indigenous grapes, including Manto Negro and Moll (Prensal Blanc).        

Penedès DO

The Penedès DO is northeast of Tarragona, along the Catalan coast. Penedès is produces 95% of the four of authorized white grapes for Cava - Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabéo (Macabeu), and Chardonnay.  

The land increases in elevation as you head from the coast towards the inland Meseta and it is divided between three distinct altitude zones. In increasing altitude they are:

(1) Baix-Penedès - Although red grapes dominate in the Baix-Penedès, two producers—Vega de Ribes and the Hospital de Sant Joan Baptista (a religious charitable institution) are growing Malvasia de Sitges to produce a sweet fortified wine. Vega de Ribes is owned by the Bartra family who for 16 generations has been farmers, dating back to 1540. The grapes are cultivated under organic farming integrated with others crops and sheep.[1] Malvasia de Sitges recently was granted the Slow Food “presidia” status, helping to insure its future survival as a unique product of the region.[2]   

(2) Medio-Penedès - Tempranillo is known locally as Ull de Llebre (also known as Cencibel, Tinto del Pais and several other synonyms throughout Spain) and it grows well in the Medio-Penedès.  Sturdier Mediterranean red grapes like Garnacha (known locally as Garnatxa) and Monastrell (known Mataró or Mourvèdre in France) are planted in the lower vineyards of the Baix-Penedès used to create bold red and rosado wines.

 (3) Alt-Penedès. - The Alt-Penedès is one of Europe’s highest altitude winegrowing regions and the climate is well suited for growing the Parellada grape. Besides its use in Cava, it is also used for blending in young white wines, sometimes blended with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and aged in oak.

Rueda DO (Castilla Y León)

Rueda DO is located within Castilla y León (Old Castile), the largest autonomía (autonomous region) in Spain. It is surrounded by mountains located on the northern part of the Meseta Central. 

The region has a continental climate that is moderated by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and yet it still experiences extreme high and low temperatures. The Duero River flows westward through the center of the region and passes the DOs of Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Tierra del Vino de Zamora, and finally Arribes as it makes its way into Portugal.

Description / Requirements
White “Rueda”
Must contain 50% Verdejo, often blended with Viura.
White varietally labeled wine
Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc must contain 85% of the stated grape. 
Rosado wines
Must contain 50% red grapes
Red wines
Predominantly Tempranillo
Espumoso (Sparkling wines)
Produced in both rosado and white styles.
Brut Espumoso
Must contain 85% Verdejo
A dry fortified, oxidized wine.

Toro DO

Toro DO is located west of Rueda and they produce red, white and rosado wines. Fariña and Numanthia-Termes are among the top names in the appellation, and the launching of Vega Sicilia’s Bodegas Pintia seems to cement Toro’s newfound success. 

Description / Requirements
White wines
Verdejo or Malvasia
White varietally labeled wine
Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc must contain 85% of the stated grape. 
Rosado wines
Saignée blends of Tinto de Toro and Garnacha
Red wines
Must contain a minimum 75% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo), but they are often 100%.

Tierra del Vino de Zamora DO

Tierra del Vino de Zamora DO lies to the west of Toro in the province of Zamora.  The region covers consists of 8 vineyards (Bodegas) in an area of 780 hectares (1927 acres) which produce 0.6 million liter of wine annually. The region produces red, white, rosado, and the lighter clarete (rosé) wines.  Reds require a minimum 75% Tempranillo and the other grapes which may be included are Garnacha and Cabernet-Sauvignon. White wines are produced from Malvasia, Verdejo, and Albilla.  

The Bierzo DO

The Bierzo DO is located in the northwest of the province of León and it covers about 3,000 km.  The Mencía grape wmakes up a minimum 70% of the red wines and 50% of rosé wines but many of the best wines are 100% Mencía.  White wines are also produced made from Godello and Doña Blanca but Palomino dominates the vineyards. 

Tierra de León DO

The Tierra de León DO is located in the south of the province of Léon, in Castile-Leon region and it covers an area of 3,317 km at an altitude of approximately 900 m above sea level. The area has a continental climate (long, hot dry summers; cold winters). Temperatures in winter often fall below 0°C and there is frequent frosts and fog. In 2007 the region was recently upgraded from vino de la tierra and it produces reds, whites, and rosados.  Red wines are made from Mencía and the local Prieto Picudo as well as Tempranillo, Garnacha. White wines are primarily made from Malvasía and Palomino.

Ribera del Duero DO

The Ribera del Duero DO is one of Spain’s top red wine-producing regions and it surrounds the towns of Aranda de Duero and Peñafiel in the Duero River Valley. Ribera del Duero achieved DO status in 1982. 

Historically the most important winery in the region is Vega Sicilia which was founded in Don Eloy Lecanda y Chaves. In 1864 he planted Bordeaux varietals, a small amount of Pinot Noir and Tinto del País (Tempranillo) in order to produce brandy.  In 1929, the winery changed owners and began making estate-bottled table wines. The new winemaker Domingo Txomin achieved international acclaim at the Barcelona World’s Fair with his 1917 and 1918 vintages of Único,

Único is a blend from Tinto del País, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. It is often aged for more than a decade in American and French oak barrels. Even though it was labeled as vino de mesa the demand for the wine enabled him to sell it for very high prices.

Although Vega Sicilia had achieved great success it remained the primary producer until the 1980s, when the wines of Pesquera began to receive worldwide recognition. Subsequently the region received significant investment and renovation resulting in the creation of a number cult wine estates such as Dominio de Pingus and Aalto.  The region has been so success that when Ribera del Duero received its DO status there were only 9 wineries, today the number of producers is close to 300.  

Ribera del Duero produces red wines and a small amount of rosados but white wines are not permitted.  Tempranillo (locally known as Tinto del País and Tinto Fino) is dominant red but there are also a small amounts of Garnacha and international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The early-ripening white Albillo grape is also grown but only for blending in the production of rosado wines. 

Ribera del Duero Red Wine Ageing Requirements
Required Aging
2 years prior to release (1 year in cask)
3 years prior to release (1 year in cask)
Gran Reserva
2 years in cask + 3 years in bottle = five years

Rosados and red wines that do not fulfill the minimum aging requirement for crianza are considered vino joven, or young wines. Most commercial rosados today are vino joven.

Cigales DO

The Cigales DO is located to the north of old capital city of Valladolid, and to the northwest of Ribera del Duero.  The region produces red wines from Garnacha Tinta and Tinto del País, at a combined minimum 85%, but is particularly noted for its rosado and nuevo (primeur) rosado production.  Arlanza DO, to the east of Cigales and directly north of Ribera del Duero, is one of Spain’s newest DOs, dating to 2007.  A small core of wineries produces reds and whites from a complement of Duero Valley and Bordeaux varieties.

Arlanza DO

The Arlanza DO is located directly north of Ribera del Duero, with Cigales DO to the west of both appellations.  Tierra de León DO and Bierzo DO are located in the mountainous northwestern corner of Castilla y León; Bierzo borders Valdeorras in Galicia.

Northwestern Spain (Green Spain)

Green Spain (España Verde) is the northern maritime façade along the Atlantic Ocean in Galicia and bordering Portugal, which also runs along the coastal strip lying north of the Cantabrian and Basque mountains, along the Bay of Biscay. It includes Asturias, Cantabria, and País Vasco (Basque Country) along the northern Green Coast (Costa Verde).  Galicia is a fertile region with dense forests with numerous estuaries (rías) and small rivers that make their way through low mountain ranges.  The cooler maritime climate of the region is ideal for the production of crisp, refreshing white wines, and Galicia is emerging as one of Spain’s best areas for such wines.  Within Galicia, there are five DOs: Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, and Monterrei.

Rías Baixas DO (pronounced Ree-ass By-shass)

The Rías Baixas DO (the “low estuaries”) is located in the province of Pontevedra and the south of the province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia. The majority of wine production centered on the white grape Albariño and a wine labeled “Rías Baixas Albariño” will not contain any blending grapes.  The region borders Portugal on the coast and contains five subzones, two in the north and three in the south:

Northern Subzones:

If the wine is instead labeled with one of the northern subzones it must contain a minimum 70% Albariño.

(1) Val do Salnés - The landscape is of low undulating hills and the vineyards are planted both on the slopes and on the flat valley floors. The soil is generally rocky and alluvial.

(2) Ribeira do Ulla - The soils are mainly alluvial.

Southern Subzones:

The southern subzones of stipulate a minimum 70% of Albariño and either Loureira or Treixadura which include: 

(3) O Rosal - The vineyards here are planted on terraces on the banks of the Miño. The soils are alluvial.

(4) Condado do Tea - The landscape is more abrupt and consists of several small river valleys. The soils are granite and slate based.

(5) Soutomaior - The soils are light and sandy, and covered with granite.

Many of the top wineries produce 100% Albariño and utilizing malolactic fermentation and barrica aging (barrel or cask) to soften the wine, which will be indicated on the label.  While approximately 90% of the vineyard acreage is planted to Albariño there is a small quantity of red wine produced from grapes such as Caiño, Espadeiro and Mencía.

Ribeiro DO

The Ribeiro DO is located along the Miño River to the east of Rías Baixas. The climate is a transition zone between oceanic and Mediterranean, so it is humid and temperate, with average annual temperatures of 14.5 °C (58.1° F)

About 80% of wine production is white wine. The dominant white grape is Treixadura, which is supplanting Palomino. It is a white Portuguese grape variety (Trajadura in Portugal) which is grown primarily for the Vinho Verde wine. It is primarily a blending variety that adds body and light lemony aromatics to wines. It is most commonly blended with Albariño and Loureiro in Rías Baixas while in Ribeiro it is often blended with Torrontés and Lado.

The top grape for red wines is Caiño which is also grown in Portugal’s Vinho Verde wine region where it is known as Borraçal. A dried grape wine, Viño Tostado, is a local specialty. 

Ribeira Sacra DO

The Ribeira Sacra DO is located further located in the south of the province of Lugo and in the north of the province of Ourense, in Galicia. The name Ribeira Sacra, which could be translated as “Sacred Shore” is derived from the 18 monasteries and hermitages that were founded in the early Middle Ages between the 8th and 12th centuries and are located in the inaccessible river valleys. Vineyards were planted on steeply terraced slopes developed by Romans about 2000 years ago, but it was the monks who replanted the vineyards and maintained the grape-growing and wine-producing tradition until modern times.  

Ribeira Sacra encompasses five sub-regions: Amandi, Chantada, Quiroga-Bibei, Riberas do Sil and Riberas do Miño. The dominant white varieties are: Albariño, Godello, Treixadura, but they are also authorized to produce Loureira, Torrontés and Dona Branca.

The most important red variety is Mencía. Other authorized grapes include ones frequently found in Portugal - Brancellao, Merenzao (also known as Carnaz or Godello Tinto) and Grand Noir de la Calmette (or simply Grand Noir). Grand Noir is a red teinturier grape variety that is a crossing of Petit Bouschet and Aramon Noir. It was created in 1855 by French grape breeder Henri Bouschet at his vineyard in Mauguio in the Hérault department. The grape was named after the breeding station Domaine de la Calmette. It was once widely grown in the Cognac and Languedoc wine regions but it is rarely used in France today. As a teinturier, Grand Noir is often used to add color to wines but it isn’t as dark as other teinturier grapes such as Alicante Bouschet. The vine tends to bud late and has a high productivity but with some susceptibility to the viticultural hazard of powdery mildew. Today Grand Noir is predominately found in the Spanish wine regions of Galicia in northwest Spain and in the southern Portuguese wine regions of Alentejo

Valdeorras DO

The Valdeorras (“Valley of Gold”) DO is in the easternmost region in the autonomía of Galicia and was established in 1945. While some pleasant red and rosé wines are produced, the region’s best wines are clean, fruit-driven, with high acidity made from the Godello grape. 

Monterrei DO

 The Monterrei DO, the southernmost DO in Galicia, is a small region with very few wineries. Monterrei is the warmest and driest area in Galicia, sharing some climatic characteristics with the Spanish central plain. The Sierra de Larouca range produces a rain shadow effect in the area. The region experiences long and dry summers and winter temeratures that fall below 0 °C. Average annual rainfall is about 700 mm and the influence of the Atlantic produces cold autumns. White grape varieties are dominant, especially Doña Blanca, Treixadura, Verdello, Caíño Blanco and Godello. Of the small proportion of red grapes, the most common is Arauxa (the local name for Tempranillo), Mencía and Bastardo.

País Vasco

The País Vasco region contains three principal DO zones: Getariako Txakolina, Bizkaiko Txakolina, and Arabako Txakolina.  Wines from all three DOs may be white, red, or Rosado. White wines dominate wine production and most are produced from the native Ondarrabi Zuri (Hondarribi Zuri) grape.  In Getariako alone, Ondarrabi Zuri accounts for 95% of vineyard acreage, with the remaining acreage planted to Ondarrabi Beltza, the preferred local red variety.  The rare rosado wines are often blends of the two grapes and are traditionally known as Ojo de Gallo,

Southern Spain

Southern Spain might be best understood if we divide it into three regions – South Central Spain, South East Spain and the Southern Spain.

South Central Spain

South Central Spain includes La Mancha, Valdepeñas and smaller DOs such as Almansa, Méntrida, Manchula and Utiel-Requena. The majority of the production is focused on red wines made from Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bobal and Garnacha, either as single-varietal wines or as blends.

South Eastern Spain

In South East Spain towards the Mediterranean, is the Levante which is home to regions such as Murcia and Valencia. In the Levante, the dominant grape is Monastrell (also known as Mourvèdre or Mataró), while international varieties such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are utilized to complete blended wines. Murcia, the southern autonomía in the Levante, comprises three DO zones:

(1) Jumilla - The sandy soils of Jumilla resisted phylloxera until the 1980s, nearly a century after the pest entered Spain, resulting the destruction of many vineyards. The region’s producers were then forced to rethink their production methods and in the process they shifted away from producing generic bulk to the cultivation of the drought-resistant, thick-skinned Monastrell.  While Jumilla’s desert-like climate is not very hospitable for white wine grapes, the region now represents some of Spain’s best values and make up over 95% of the DO’s output.  Monastrell makes up 80% of the region’s vineyards and the remaining 20% consists of Garnacha, Petit Verdot, and other grapes that may be used for blending.

(2) Yecla - Yecla DO is located in the northernmost corner of the region of Murcia and is completely surrounded by other DOs: Jumilla DO to the south and west, Almansa DO to the north and Alicante DO to the east. Like its neighbors, most of the red wine production is made from the red Monastrell grape variety.

(3) Bullas – This DO covers the territories of eight different municipalities, including Caravaca de la Cruz, Moratalla and Bullas itself. The region is renowned for its young reds and rosés made from the Monastrell grape variety.


Valencia, a region steeped in both Catalan and Moorish tradition, is simultaneously the name of the autonomía, its capital (and Spain’s third largest city) and a DO zone focusing on white wines produced from the local Merseguera grape and other varieties.  The other DO zones within the autonomía of Valencia are Alicante and Utiel-Requena.

Alicante DO

The Alicante DO is known for dessert wines. Fondillón is a red wine produced in an oxidized (rancio) style from overripe Monastrell (Mourvèdre) grapes. It is typically bottled and sold after an extended period of aging in barrel (minimum 10 years). It can either be vintage-dated or come from a solera. It is not fortified and it does carry the flavor of wood. 

Utiel-Requena DO

The Utiel-Requena DO red wines are primarily produced from the Bobal grape and doble pasta is a traditional style.  Doble Pasta red wines are macerated and fermented with twice the normal amount of grape skins and pulp, resulting in a wine of intense concentration, tannin and color. 

La Mancha DO

The La Mancha DO is to the west of the coastal Levant appellations. It is within the Castilla-La Mancha and with over 190,000 ha (469,500 acres) planted to vines, it is the largest continuous vine-growing area in the world. The principal grapes of the region are Cencibel (Tempranillo) and Airén, which thrive in La Mancha’s hot, dry environment.  Despite being found only in southern Spain, Airén is planted to more vineyard acreage than any other white grape in the world, due to vast tracts of low-density plantings in La Mancha.  However, the grape is currently in decline today significant amount of the vast annual harvest is destined for distillation to produce Brandy rather than table wine.  Cencibel performs well and is highly recommended by the Consejo for replanting in La Mancha but some producers are experimenting with international grape varieties. 

There are windmills scattered throughout the region and it is the setting for the fictional character and the book Don Quixote, written by a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. (The full title is: The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.) This is why you will find Don Quixote’s image on the La Mancha DO label.

Méntrida DO

Within the Méntrida DO, the Marqués de Griñon estate (founded in 1973) planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Merlot and in defiance of the regulations utilized drip irrigation and chose to produce a more “New World” style wines as vino de mesa. The Marqués de Griñon estate enlisted both the well-known Pomerol consultant Michel Rolland and his mentor the esteemed Émile Peynaud.  The wines were successful so in 2003 he was granted an estate appellation: DO Pago Dominio de Valdepusa.  Soon thereafter other DO Pago estates were granted such as DO Pago Finca (2003), Guijoso (2005), Dehesa del Carrizal (2006), Campo de la Guardia and Pago Florentino (2009), Casa del Blanco (2010) and Calzadilla (2011). 

Almansa DO

The Almansa DO located in the southeast of the province of Albacete (Castile-La Mancha), in the transition zone between the high central plateau (La Mancha) and the Mediterranean Sea. Almansa DO red wines rely principally on the Monastrell grape, demonstrating Levantine influence. 

Manchuela DO

Manchuela DO is to the north of Almansa, bridging the Levant and La Mancha.  As in Utiel-Requena, Bobal is the chief grape. 

Ribera del Júcar DO

Ribera del Júcar DO is located between Manchuela and La Mancha, and was a subzone of the latter until it received its own DO status in 2003.  

Valdepeñas DO

The Valdepeñas DO (“valley of rocks”) is surrounded by La Mancha, yet the region received formal recognition in 1932, over forty years earlier than its much larger neighbor.  Here, too, Airén is the most planted grape, followed by Cencibel.  Although the climate of the two regions is quite similar, the vines in Valdepeñas benefit from a higher concentration of chalk bedrock, which provides better retention of water in the arid environment.  Reserva and gran reserva wines, often produced exclusively from Cencibel, can be of excellent quality—particularly those sourced from the western sector of Los Llanos and the northern sector of Las Aberturas

Uclés DO

One of the newest DOs is Uclés DO located to the northwest of La Mancha. It focuses on red wines made from Cencibel, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  They also produce white, sparkling, and sweet dulce wines.  Mature vines are divided into three age categories and maximum yields decrease with the vine’s age.  Vines less than 6 years old may not be used for making wine with the Uclés DO label. Maximum yields, for red wines, are established depending on the age of the vines and on the planting system:

≥ 6 years, 8,000 kg/ha (low bush, en vaso) or 11,000 gk/ha (on trellis, en espaldera)

≥ 15 years, 6,500 kg/ha (low bush, en vaso) or 9,500 gk/ha (on trellis, en espaldera)

≥ 40 years, 5,000 kg/ha (low bush, en vaso) or 8,00 gk/ha (on trellis, en espaldera)

Mondéjar DO

The Mondéjar DO is north of La Mancha and white, rosé (rosado) and red wines are produced from Cencibel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Macabéo, and the white Malvar grape. 

Vinos de Madrid DO

Vinos de Madrid DO is an appellation for the wines produced in three areas: San Martín de Valdeiglesias, Navalcarnero, and Arganda—comprising two noncontiguous zones to the southwest and southeast of the capital city.  Wines are produced from Airén, Malvar, Tinto Fino, and Negra de Madrid (Garnacha) but most of the wines are consumed locally. 

Ribera del Guadiana DO

Ribera del Guadiana DO is located southwest of Madrid and Méntrida, in the Extremadura autonomía.  It contains 6 sub-regions: Ribera Alta de Guadiana, Ribera Baja de Guadiana, Matanegra, Cañamero, Montánchez, and the superior Tierra de Barros.  Although the DO produces from quality value priced wines most of the harvest goes towards distillation in the copper stills of Jerez. The sub-region Tierra do Barros, encompasses nearly 80% of the DO and is the home of Bodegas Inviosa which is the only producer of Cava in southwestern Spain.

Learning Objectives of Unit 5 – Day 2: The Rest of Spain

At the beginning of class lectures a list of learning objectives is provided to the students. By the end of the class, the students should have a certain degree of understanding from their own reading and the lectures and be able to provide the answers to a list of questions. The Learning Objectives for Unit 5 - Day 2 along with the answers are as follows.

By the end of class, students should be able to answer the following questions:

(1) Name the principal red grape(s) of Priorat

Answer: Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah

(2) Name the DO for traditional method sparkling wine and the principal grapes

Answer: Penedès DO – Parallada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Chardonnay

(3) Name principal grape(s) of Ribera del Duero.

Answer: Tempranillo (75%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec.

(4) Name a synonym for the grape Tinta de Toro

Answer: Tempranillo

(5) State the DO of the producer Vega Sicilia.

Answer: Ribera Del Duero DO

(6) Name the principal grape of Rías Baixas and identify the region it’s located within

Answer: Albariño

(7) State the region and style of wines from Txakolina DO

Answer: Galicia (Basque Country): White wines from Hondarribi Zuri, red wines from Hondarribi Beltza.

(8) Identify a DO within Murcia and describe its typical style of wine

Answer: Monstrall, full-bodied red

(9) Identify a DO within Valencia and describe its typical style of wine

Answer: Alicante DO which is known for oxidized style dessert wines.

(10) Describe the attributes of any wines tasted today

Answer: See below

The Wines

On the second day of Unit 5 we tasted the following wines from Spain:

1. 2012 Txomin Etxaniz Getaria Txakolina

This is a clear white wine, light straw in color with a watery rim, low viscosity and a slight effervescence. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of lemon pith, clam shell, and hints of a salty minerality, and yeasty bread. On the palate it has flavors of tart unsweetened lemonade, under ripe green apples, a chalky minerality and a distinct salinity on the finish. It is dry and tart with medium+ acidity, medium body and it has a long finish. Over all, this is a very vibrant, zesty and refreshing wine that sells for only $15 per bottle. An excellent alternative for Sauvignon Blanc fans!

2. 2011 Lolo Albariño, Rias Baixas

This is a clear white wine, yellow in color, star bright with medium viscosity. On the nose it is clean with subtle aromas of peach, lime and a hint of honeysuckle with a salty minerality. On the palate it has flavors of peach, lime, chamomile tea, minor green vegetal notes and a hint of chalk. It has a slight creamy feel on the palate which is quite a contrast with the previous wine’s razor sharp zesty texture. Yet it is dry with a medium+ mouthwatering acidity, medium body, medium alcohol and a long finish. This wine sells for about $18.

After tasting this wine and taking a picture of the bottle it donned on me that we had previously tasted this wine in class which I wrote about in the November 2011 review “LoLo Albariño – RiasBaixas, Galicia Spain.” My analysis of the structure of the wine is the same, what I described here as “creamy” I described then as “oily” and the fruit descriptors are slightly different but both have a citrus descriptor (lime vs. orange) and a stone fruit (peach vs. apricot) and both ascribe a saltiness to the wine. I think what I describe here as a “zesty texture” I related to the flavor of apricots in the previous review. It is interesting to compare the slight changes with one’s own perception of the same wine.

3. 2011 Buil & Giné Verdejo Nosis Rueda

This is a clear white wine, yellow in color, medium concentration with a watery rim and medium viscosity. It is clean, youthful with moderate intense aromas of lemon, green apple, sage and mint. On the palate it has flavors of green apples, melon rind, a hint of jalapeno, and minor tropical notes. It is dry with some residual sugar; it has medium+ acidity, medium body, medium alcohol and a medium+ length finish. This wine sells for about $16.

4. 2011 Descendientes de Jose Palacios Petalos Bierzo

This is an opaque red wine, dark-ruby at the core to pink at the rim with medium+ viscosity and tears that stain the glass. On the nose it is clean and youthful with moderate intense aromas of black cherries, stewed plums, black licorice, smoked meat and a hint of green herbs. On the palate it has flavors of blackberries, black cherries, with hints of dried herbs, black pepper, rose petals, tobacco and vanilla. It is dry with a touch of residual sugar, it has well integrated medium+ tannins, medium+ alcohol, medium+ acidity, it is fairly complex with a medium+ length finish. This wine is made from 100% Mencia and it sells for about $18. I don’t give wine scores, but if I did I’d give this one 92+ points and for less than $20 it is a great value.

5. 2010 Aalto Ribera del Duero

This is an opaque red wine, dark-ruby at the core with minimal rim variation, medium+ viscosity and tears that stain the glass. On the nose it is clean and youthful with moderate intense aromas of black currants, black cherries, dark chocolate, cooked coconut and a hint of black pepper. On the palate it has flavors of black currants, black berries, new leather, a chalky minerality, and cocoa. It is dry with medium+ tannins, medium+ alcohol, medium+ acidity, moderate complexity with a medium+ length finish. This wine seems very Cabernet-like and yet it is made from 100% Tempranillo. It sells for about $40 per bottle.

6. 2010 Numanthia Termes Toro

This is an opaque red wine, dark purple at the core to violet at the rim, with medium+ viscosity and tears that stain the glass. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of cassis, blackberry pie, raspberry jam, chocolate covered blueberries, violets, loads of vanilla, cooked coconut, bay leaves and damp earth. On the palate the nose is repeated, it is dry with some residual sugar, it has medium+ tannins, HIGH alcohol, it is full bodied, medium+ complexity and a medium+ length finish with linger vanilla. This wine is made from 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) and it sells for about $18 to $20. In many ways this wine reminds me of a Cabernet from a very warm region such as the California central valley or perhaps Paso Robles. It is a bit “over the top” and lacking finesse as the fruit seems a bit cooked, but not a bad wine for under $20.

7. 2012 Alvaro Palacios Camins de Priorat

This is a clear red wine, purple at the core to violet at the rim with medium+ viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aromas of red fruits (pomegranate, raspberry jam, strawberry preserves) chocolate covered blue berries, violets and dark chocolate. On the palate it has flavors of blueberry pie, black currants, and dark chocolate. It is dry with medium+ tannins, medium+ acidity, it is moderately complex, full bodied with HIGH alcohol and a lengthy finish. This wine sells for about $16 to $20.

8. 2008 Palacios Remondo Propiedad Rioja

This is a clear red wine, ruby at the core to pink/garnet and a hint of brown at the rim with medium+ viscosity. On the nose it is clean with moderate intense aroma sof dried/cooked blackberries, black cherries, violets, dark chocolate, a hint of old leather, dried herbs and a hint of baked coconut. On the palate it has flavors of strawberry preserves, raspberry jam, vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted coffee, and spicy barbeque potato chips. It has medium+ tannins, medium+ acidity, it is full bodied with HIGH alcohol, highly complex and a medium+ length finish. This wine is HUGE but it is well balanced and was probably the best wine of the day. This wine sells for about $35.


In the previous review on Spain most of the wines were definitely old world in style. The wines in this class were definitely more of a new world mindset, yet they maintained a very distinctive old world minerality.



  1. Navarra appears on the CMS map, and yet there seems to be no discussion of this quintessential kingdom. Was it subsumed into Aragon?

    Nearly as disproportionate is the case of Castilla La Mancha, which produces about 20 percent of all wine in Spain, even though its share of Spanish wine-producing hectareage is much smaller.

    When the article references yield in the Uclés DO, those vines not on trellis are referred to as "low bush, en vaso". Sounds like Head-Trained, but what is "en vaso"?

  2. Literally "en vaso" it means "in glass" but it refers to the shape of the bush vine. Sometimes it is referred to as a goblet.