A Brief History of Spanish Wine

Spanish wine history dates back to 1100 BC when the Phoenicians founded the commercial city of Cadiz in southwestern Spain. They are followed by the Carthaginians who bring new and advanced ideas for growing vineyards. After a series of wars that led to the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans, viticulture gained wide spread throughout its territory.

Following the turbulent times of the Vestgoths and the Moors after the collapse of the Roman Empire, as far back as 1491, when King Ferdinand led the Castilla and Aragon joint forces defeated the Moors in Granada and finally pushed them out of Europe after more than 700 years of reconquest movement).

The subsequent period opens the export markets again and Bilbao is becoming an important port for wine trade. Spanish wines are traded on the English markets in Bristol, London and Southampton. Because they are dense and with higher alcohol, they are often used to mix with delicate wines from the cooler climatic regions of France and Germany.

The discovery of America offers a new market as well as new opportunities for wine production. Spanish missionaries and conquistadors bring European varieties to the new lands they colonize. They are developing so fast that there is a ban on the production of wine by King Philip III because of the economic threat of entering Spain at very low prices.

A turning point in the history of Spanish wine is the phylloxera epidemic that covered Europe in the mid-19th century. With the sudden shortage of French wine, many growers turn to Spain, helping to further expand and improve viticulture. Moreover, many French wine producers cross the border and bring with them techniques and varieties that they apply in some areas of northern Spain. Thus, during the period of the epidemic, grapes and wine of Rioja are used mainly by wine producers and traders in France.

In the end, the phylloxera reached Spain at the end of the 19th century, but devastation is much less, since grafting on resistant roots of American vines is already open and widely used.

The modern Spanish wine industry began to form after the end of General Franco's dictatorship and the subsequent transition to democracy. The modernization of wine cellars began and the emphasis was on quality.

Spain's accession to the European Union in 1986 has led to aid for rural areas, wine-growing and infrastructure development. The growing middle class of Spain creates a consumption of better and better quality wine.

The drought, which traditionally harms - especially in the southern regions - leads to the lifting of the irrigation restrictions in 1996, which gives wine producers greater control over the yields and the areas that can be planted.

All of these factors help the Spanish wine industry to enter the 21st century as a country that can compete with the largest wine producers in the world and take third place after Italy and France.


Geography and Climate

The north and northwest of Spain are exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and can be cold, rainy but also very green. To the southeast, around Catalonia and Valencia, the climate is more moderate and with a strong Mediterranean influence. To the south, the regions of Andalusia, Jerez and Malaga are very hot. Inside the Meseta Central Plateau is characterized by hot summer and cold winter.

To deal with the problem caused by high temperatures, many of the Spanish vines are planted in higher places, usually over 600 m above sea level. There the temperatures at night fall, the grapes can maintain good levels of acidity, and the maturation period is also extended, which provides a good balance between sugar levels and acidity.

Lower altitude vines - for example, along the southern Mediterranean coast - usually produce wines whose main problem is the high alcoholic degree. That is why in these areas vines & nbsp; are planted at a greater distance so as to reduce competition between them for water and food resources.



The most widely planted grape variety is white Airen (Airén). It is found throughout central Spain and for many years serves as the basis of the Spanish brandy. The wines produced from these grapes can be very alcoholic and prone to oxidation.

Tempranillo is the second most popular grape variety to be known all over Spain with a variety of synonyms that can appear on the label, such as Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Ull de Llebre. Both Tempranillo and Garnacha are used to make the dense red wines of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Pened & egrave; s, as Garnacha is the main grape of the Priorat region. In the area of ​​Levante, Monastrell and Bobal have significant plantings that are used both for dark red wines and for dry rosettes.

In the northwest, Albarinho (Albariño) and Verdejo are popular in R & iacute, as Baixas and Rueda. In the regions where Cava is produced (Catalunya dominates), the main varieties are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello, suitable both for the production of sparkling wine and for white, quiet wines.

In Malaga and in the southern regions of Andalusia, which produce Sherry, the varieties are Palomino and Pedro Xim & eacute; With the modernization of the Spanish wine industry, international varieties that are found in both couples and Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are becoming more and more popular. Other Spanish grape varieties that have significant plantings include Carrinjena, Godea, Grassiano, Mensia, Lureira and Traischouda.


Classification of the Wine Regions in Spain

The Spanish classification system for wine producing regions has four levels, the most common being DO and DOC. It is, to a certain extent, similar to the Fernán and Italian. Spain also has two "unregulated" labels called "country wine" and "table wine."

Vino de Mesa (VdM) - These are wines that are the equivalent of most of the country's table wines and are made from unclassified vines or grapes that have been declassified through "illegal" blending. Like the Italian super-Tuscan wines of the late 20th century, some Spanish winemakers deliberately declassify their wines to have greater flexibility in blending and winemaking.

Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT) - This level is similar to the French vin de pays system which denotes larger geographic regions and appears on the label with names such as Andalusia, Castilla La Mancha and Levant.

Denominación de Origen (DO) - This level is for the main wine regions and for quality, which is regulated by the Consejo Regulador, which is also responsible for the marketing of wines from this area.

Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa или DOQ - Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan) - This name, similar to the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) in Italy, is for regions of constant quality and represents a substantial step above DO. Rioja is the first region to receive this name in 1991 and was followed by Priorat in 2003.