viernes, 31 de octubre de 2014

Fareham Wine Cellar - Spanish Tasting in Hampshire (England)



FAREHAM WINE CELLAR - SPANISH TASTING IN HAMPSHIRE (ENGLAND)

They are an established, independent Fine Wine Merchant based in the market town of Fareham in Hampshire (located just a few minutes from the M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton). Their shop is situated in the historic High Street where one can find favolous wines, and a large selection of spirits, on display.

They stock a wine range of wines including Claret, Burgundy, Rhone, Champagne and many other French wines. There are also wines from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany. The New World is well-represented and they have a large selection of wines from Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and particularly South Africa. They specialise in Port Wines, particularly Vintage and Colheita Port, and have a good selection of Sherry and Madeira. You can search thier list by year if you are looking for a present for a special birthday or anniversary present (http://www.farehamwinecellar.co.uk/). There are various Ports, Cognacs, Armagnacs and Scotch Whiskies, as well as wines, from various vintages.

They dont sell online but they can take telephone orders on 01329 822733 or fax orders on 01329 282355. They have a printable PDF order form on each page that can be downloaded and faxed back to them. They accept payment by Maestro, Visa, Mastercard and Cheque. They use the APC Overnight delivery service for thier deliveries (other services are available for larger quantities). Please check their Delivery Terms and Conditions for further information.

There is no minimum order - they can send out single bottle orders. Cases of wine can be mixed to order and attract a 5% discount from their list price (the discount applies to orders of 12 bottles or more excluding spirits). Prices are in Pounds Sterling, UK VAT inclusive and can be subject to change at short notice.

They are also the UK agents for Le Bonheur, Alto Estate, Jacobsdal Estate and Theuniskraal which are all part of the Distell group from South Africa.

- Name: Fareham Wine Cellar
- Adress: 55 High Street, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7BG United Kingdom.
- Contact: Dominic Lockyer
- Telephone: 01329 822733.
- Fax: 01329 282355 - Please do not phone this number.
- E-mail: Dominic@FarehamWineCellar.co.uk
- Web: www.farehamwinecellar.co.uk


SPANISH WINES AT FAREHAM WINE CELLAR

Spanish wines (Spanish: vinos españoles) are wines produced in the southwestern European country of Spain. Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain has over 2.9 million acres (over 1.17 million hectares) planted making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country is ninth in worldwide consumptions with Spaniards drinking, on average, 21.6 litres (5.706 US gal) per person a year. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Cariñena.

Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which is known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region.

HISOTY OF SPANISH WINES

The abundance of native grape varieties fostered an early start to viticulture with evidence of grape pips dating back to the Tertiary period. Archaeologists believe that these grapes were first cultivated sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC, long before the wine-growing culture of the Phoenicians founded the trading post of Cádiz around 1100 BC. Following the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians introduced new advances to the region-including the teachings of the early viticulturist Mago. Carthage would wage a series of wars with the emerging Roman Republic that would lead to the Roman conquest of the Spanish mainland, known as Hispania.


- From Roman rule to the Reconquista: Under Roman rule, Spanish wine was widely exported and traded throughout the Roman empire. The two largest wine producing regions at the time were Terraconensis (modern day Tarragona) in the north and Baetica (modern day Andalucia) in the south. During this period more Spanish wine was exported into Gaul than Italian wine, with amphorae being found in ruins of Roman settlements in Normandy, the Loire Valley, Brittany, Provence and Bordeaux. Spanish wine was also provided to Roman soldiers guarding border settlements in Britain and the Limes Germanicus in Germania. The quality of Spanish wine during Roman times was varied, with Pliny the Elder and Martial noting the high quality associated with some wines from Terraconensis while Ovid notes that one popular Spanish wine sold in Rome, known as Saguntum, was merely good for getting your mistress drunk. (Ars amatoria 3.645-6).

Following the decline of the Roman Empire, Spain was invaded by various barbaric tribes-including the Suebi and the Visigoths. Little is known about progress of viticulture and winemaking during this period but there is evidence that some viable form of wine industry was present when the Moors conquered the land during the early 8th century AD. While the Moors were Muslim and subjected to Islamic dietary laws that forbid the use of alcohol, the Moorish rulers held an ambiguous stance on wine and winemaking during their rule. Several caliphs and emirs owned vineyards and drank wine. While there were laws written that outlawed the sale of wine, it was included on lists of items that were subject to taxation in Moorish territories. The Spanish Reconquista reopened the possibility of exporting Spanish wine. Bilbao emerged as a large trading port; introducing Spanish wines to the English wine markets in Bristol, London and Southampton. The quality of some of these exported Spanish wines appears to have been high. In 1364, the court of Edward III established the maximum price of wine sold in England with the Spanish wines being priced at the same level as wines from Gascony and higher than those from La Rochelle. The full bodied and high alcohol in most Spanish wines made them favoured blending partners for the "weaker" wines from the cooler climate regions of France and Germany though there were laws that explicitly outlawed this practice.


- Colonization of the New World: Following the completion of the Spanish Reconquista in 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World under the sponsorship of the Spanish crown. This opened up a new export market as well as new opportunity for wine production. Spanish missionaries and conquistadors brought European grape vines with them as they colonized the new lands. During this period Spanish exports to England began to wane as Spanish-English relations steadily deteriorated following the divorce of Henry VIII of England from his Spanish wife Catherine of Aragon. English merchants from the Sherry producing regions of Jerez and Sanlúcar de Barrameda as well as Málaga fled the area due to the fear of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition.

The defeat of the Spanish Armada by Elizabeth I of England greatly reduced the strength of the Spanish navy and contributed to the country's debt incurred during the reign of Philip II. Spain became more dependent on the income from its Spanish colonies, including the exportation of Spanish wine to the Americas. The emergence of growing wine industries in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina was a threat to this income, with Philip III and succeeding monarchs issuing decrees and declarations ordering the uprooting of New World vineyards and halting the production of wine by the colonies. In some countries, like Chile, these orders were largely ignored; but in others, like Argentina, they served to stunt growth and development until independence was gained from Spanish rule.

- From phylloxera to modern day: The 17th & 18th centuries saw periods of popularity for various Spanish wines-namely Sherry (known in Britain as "sack"), Malaga and Rioja wine but the Spanish wine industry was falling behind other European countries which were embracing the developments of the early Industrial Age. A major turning point occurred in the mid 19th century when the phylloxera epidemic ravaged European vineyards-most notably those of France. With the sudden shortage of French wine, many countries turned to Spain, with French winemakers crossing the Pyrenees to Rioja, Navarre and Catalonia-bringing with them their expertise and winemaking methods. One of these developments was the introduction of the 59 gallon (225 liter) oak barrica. Phylloxera eventually reached Spain, devastating regions like Malaga in 1878 and reaching Rioja in 1901. Its slow progress was due in part to the wide tracts of land, including the Meseta Central, that separated the major Spanish wine regions from each other. By the time the Spanish wine industry felt the full force of phylloxera, the remedy of grafting American rootstock to the European vines had already been discovered and widely utilized.


The end of the 19th century also saw the emergences of Spain's sparkling wine industry with the development of Cava in Catalonia. As the 20th century progressed, the production of Cava would rival the Champagne region in worldwide production. Civil and political upheaval would mark most of the 20th century, including a military dictatorship under General Miguel Primo de Rivera. One of the measures instituted by Primo de Rivera was the early groundwork of the Denominación de Origen (DO) appellation system first developed in Rioja in 1926. The Spanish Civil War saw vineyards neglected and wineries destroyed throughout Spain with regions like Catalonia and Valencia being particularly hard hit. The Second World War closed off European markets to Spanish exports and further damaged the Spanish economy.

It wasn't till the 1950s that domestic stability helped to usher in a period of revival for the Spanish wine industry. Several large co-operative wineries were founded during this period and an international market was created for generic bulk wines that were sold under names like Spanish sauternes and Spanish chablis. In the 1960s, Sherry was rediscovered by the international wine market and soon Rioja wine was in demand. The death of Francisco Franco in 1975 and the Spanish transition to democracy allowed more economic freedom for winemakers and created an emerging market with the growing middle class of Spain. The late 1970s and 1980s saw periods of modernization and renewed emphasis on quality wine production. The 1986 acceptance of Spain into the European Union brought economic aid to the rural wine industries of Galicia and La Mancha. The 1990s saw the influence of flying winemakers from abroad and broader acceptance of the use of international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. In 1996, the restrictions on irrigation were lifted which gave winemakers greater control over yields and what areas could be planted. Soon the quality and production volume of premium wines began to overtake the presence of generic Spanish bulk wines on the market and Spain's reputation entering the 21st century was that of a serious wine producing country that could compete with other producers in the world wine market.

GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE

One of the dominant geographical influences of Spanish viticulture is the vast plateau known as the Meseta Central that covers much of central Spain. From there flow to the sea several of Spain's principal rivers that are at the heart of many Spanish wine regions. These include the eastward flowing Ebro river that runs through the Rioja and several Catalan wine regions; the Duero which flows westward through the Ribera del Duero region in Spain before crossing the border into Portugal's Douro Valley which is at the heart of Port wine production; the Tajo which runs through the La Mancha region; Guadalquivir which flows into the Atlantic at the Sherry producing village of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. In addition to the Meseta Central, several mountain ranges known as cordilleras serve to isolate and influence the climate of several Spanish wine regions. These include the Cantabrian Mountains that spur westward from the Pyrenees and protect regions like the Rioja from the rain and the cool of westerlies coming from the Bay of Biscay. The Cantabrian Mountains act as a rain shadow with the coastal regions of the Basque Country receiving an average of 59 inches (1,500 mm) while the winemaking region of Rioja, near Haro, around 62 miles (100 km) away receives only 18 inches (460 mm). In Galicia on the northwest coast, the region receives annual rainfall that ranges from 39 inches (990 mm) on the coast to 79 inches (2.0 m) near the mountainous border of Castile and León.


The climate gets more extreme further inland towards the Meseta Central and is characterized by hot summers with temperatures that can reach 104 °F (40 °C) with drought conditions. Many regions receive less than 12 inches (300 mm) of rain annually with most of the rain falling during sudden downpours in the spring and autumn that can pose the risk of flash flooding. Winters in these regions are characterized by cold temperatures that can often fall below freezing around −8 °F (−22 °C). Towards the southeast, around Valencia, the climate is more moderate with the strong Mediterranean influence. In the south, the Sherry and Malaga producing regions of Andalusia contain some of the hottest parts of Spain. North of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the Guadalquivir Valley, temperatures often reach 113 °F (45 °C) in the summer. To adapt to these high temperatures, many Spanish vineyards will be planted on higher elevations, with many vineyards located over 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level. These high altitudes create a large diurnal temperature variation with low night time temperatures that allow the grapes to maintain acidity levels and colouring. Regions with lower altitude vineyards, such as along the southern Mediterranean coast are suitable for producing grapes of high alcohol levels and low acidity.

VITICULTURE

Viticulture in Spain has developed in adaptation to the varied and extreme climate of the region. The dry weather in many parts of Spain reduces the threat of common viticultural hazards like downy mildew and powdery mildew as well as the development of Botrytis cinerea. In these parts, the threat of drought and the poor fertility of the land has encouraged Spanish vineyard owners to plant their vines with widely spaced rows so that there is less competition between vines for resources. One widely adopted system is known as marco real and involves having 2.5 metres (8 ft) of space between vines in all directions. These areas, mostly in the south and central regions, have some of the lowest vine density in the world—often ranging between 375-650 vines per acre (900-1600 vines per hectare). This is less than 1/8 of the vine density commonly found in other wine regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. Many Spanish vineyards are several decades old, with the old vines producing even lower yields of fruit. In the Jumilla region of Murcia, for example, yields are often less than 1.1 ton per acre (20 hl/ha).

In the 1990s, the use of irrigation became more popular after droughts in 1994 and 1995 severely reduced the harvest in those years. In 1996, the practice of using irrigation in all Spanish wine regions was legalized with many regions quickly adopting the practice. In the Toledo province, Australian flying winemakers helped to popularize the use of underground drip irrigation to minimize the effects of evaporation. The widespread use of irrigation has encouraged higher density of vine plantings and has contributed to higher yields in some parts of Spain.

While traditionally Spanish vineyards would harvest their grapes by hand, the modernization of the Spanish wine industry has seen increased use of mechanical harvesting. In years past, most harvesting had to be done in the early morning with wineries often refusing grapes after mid-day due to their prolonged exposure to the blistering heat. In recent years, aided in part by the wider spread of the use of mechanical harvesting, more harvests are now being done at the lower temperatures at night.


GRAPE VARIETIES

Some records estimate that over 600 grape varieties are planted throughout Spain but 80% of the country's wine production is focused on only 20 grape varieties. The most widely planted grape is the white wine grape Airén, prized for its hardiness and resistance to drop. It is found throughout central Spain and for many years served as the base for Spanish brandy. Wines made from this grape can be very alcoholic and prone to oxidation. The red wine grape Tempranillo is the second most widely planted grape variety, recently eclipsing Garnacha in plantings in 2004. It is known throughout Spain under a variety of synonyms that may appear on Spanish wine labels-including Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Ull de Llebre. Both Tempranillo and Garnacha are used to make the full-bodied red wines associated with the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Penedès with Garnacha being the main grape of the Priorat region. In the Levante region, Monastrell and Bobal have significant plantings, being used for both dark red wines and dry rosé.

In the northwest, the white wine varieties of Albariño and Verdejo are popular plantings in the Rías Baixas and Rueda respectively. In the Cava producing regions of Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain, the principal grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo are used for sparkling wine production as well as still white wines. In the southern Sherry and Malaga producing regions of Andalucia, the principal grapes are Palomino and Pedro Ximénez. As the Spanish wine industry becomes more modern, there has been a larger presence of international grape varieties appearing in both blends and varietal forms-most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon blanc. Other Spanish grape varieties that have significant plantings include Cariñena, Godello, Graciano, Mencia, Loureira, and Treixadura.

WINEMAKING

In Spain, winemakers often use the Spanish word elaborar (to elaborate) rather than fabricar (to produce/make) when describing the Spanish winemaking philosophy. This relates to the view that the winemaker acts as more of a nurturer of the grapes and wine rather than as a producer. For many years, Spanish winemaking was very rustic and steeped in tradition. This included the judicious use of oak with some wines, even whites, spending as much as two decades ageing in the barrel. This created distinctly identifiable flavors that were internationally associated with the wines from regions such as the Rioja. In the 19th century, wine writers held negative views about Spanish winemaking. Richard Ford noted in 1846 that the Spanish made wine in an "unscientific and careless manner" while Cyrus Redding noted in his work the History and Description of Modern wines that Spanish gave "rude treatment" to the grapes. Some of these criticisms were rooted in the traditional manners of winemaking that were employed in Spain. Crushing and fermentation would take place in earthenware jars known as tinajas. Afterwards the wine was stored in wooden barrels or pig skin bags lined with resin known as cueros. In the warmer climate and regions of lower elevation, the red wines tilted towards being too high in alcohol and too low in acidity. The standard technique to rectify those wines was the addition of white wine grapes which balanced the acidity but diluted some of the fruit flavors of the red grapes.


The advent of temperature control stainless steel fermentation tanks radically changed the wine industry in warm climate regions like Andalucia, La Mancha and the Levante, allowing winemakers to make fresher and fruitier styles of wine-particularly whites. While many producers focused on these crisp, fresh styles in the early 1990s there was a resurgence in more active use of barrel fermenting whites as a throwback to the traditional, more oxidized styles of the 19th century. The use of oak has a long tradition in Spanish winemaking, dating back even centuries before the French introduced the small 59 gallon (225 liter) barrica style barrels. Gradually Spanish winemakers in the late 19th and early 20th century started to develop a preference for the cheaper, and more strongly flavored, American oak. Winemakers in regions like the Rioja found that the Tempranillo grape, in particular, responded well to new American oak. In the 1990s, more winemakers started to rediscover the use of French oak and some wineries will use a combination of both as a blend. Most DOs require some minimum period of barrel ageing which will be stipulated on the wine label by the designations-Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva depending on how long it spends in the barrel. The tradition of long barrel and bottle ageing has meant that most Spanish wines are ready to drink once they hit the market. A new generation of winemakers have started to produce more vino joven (young wines) that are released with very little ageing.

CLASSIFICATION

Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system. As of 2009, there were 79 Quality Wine areas across Spain. In addition there is Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa or DOQ in Catalan) status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently two DOCa/DOQ regions: Rioja and Priorat. Each DO has a Consejo Regulador, which acts as a governing control body that enforces the DO regulations and standards involving viticultural and winemaking practices. These regulations govern everything from the types of grapes that are permitted to be planted, the maximum yields that can be harvested, the minimum length of time that the wine must be aged and what type of information is required to appear on the wine label. Wineries that are seeking to have their wine sold under DO or DOC status must submit their wines to the Consejo Regulador laboratory and tasting panel for testing and evaluation. Wines that have been granted DO/DOC status will feature the regional stamp of the Consejo Regulador on the label.


Following Spain's acceptance into the European Union, Spanish wine laws were brought in line to be more consistent with other European systems. One development was a five-tier classification system that is administered by each autonomous region. Non-autonomous areas or wine regions whose boundaries overlap with other autonomous communities (such as Cava, Rioja and Jumilla) are administered by the Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen (INDO) based in Madrid.

The five-tier classifications, starting from the bottom, include:

- Vino de Mesa (VdM): These are wines that are the equivalent of most country's table wines and are made from unclassified vineyards or grapes that have been declassified through "illegal" blending. Similar to the Italian Super Tuscans from the late 20th century, some Spanish winemakers will intentionally declassify their wines so that they have greater flexibility in blending and winemaking methods.

- Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT): This level is similar to France's vin de pays system, normally corresponding to the larger comunidad autonóma geographical regions and will appear on the label with these broader geographical designations like Andalucia, Castilla La Mancha and Levante.

- Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD): This level is similar to France's Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) system and is considered a stepping stone towards DO status.

- Denominación de Origen (Denominació d'Origen in Catalan - DO): This level is for the mainstream quality-wine regions which are regulated by the Consejo Regulador who is also responsible for marketing the wines of that DO. In 2005, nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain was within the boundaries a DO region.

- Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa/DOQ - Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan): This designation, which is similar to Italy's Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation, is for regions with a track record of consistent quality and is meant to be a step above DO level. Rioja was the first region afforded this designation in 1991 and was followed by Priorat in 2003. In 2008 Ribera del Duero was approved to receive DOCa classification, but acquiring the status was never pursued and Ribera del Duero remains a DO today.

- Vino de Pago Additionally there is the Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago): Designation for individual single-estates with an international reputation. As of 2013, there were 15 estates with this status.


Spanish labeling laws:

Spanish wines are often labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. When the label says vino joven ("young wine") or sin crianza, the wines will have undergone very little, if any, wood aging. Depending on the producer, some of these wines will be meant to be consumed very young - often within a year of their release. Others will benefit from some time aging in the bottle. For the vintage year (vendimia or cosecha) to appear on the label, a minimum of 85% of the grapes must be from that year's harvest. The three most common aging designations on Spanish wine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

- Crianza: Red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.

- Reserva: Red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.

- Gran Reserva: Wines typically appear in above average vintages with the red wines requiring at least 5 years aging, 18 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle. Gran Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 4 years with at least 6 months in oak.

WINE REGIONS OF SPAIN

Spain has a relatively large number of distinct wine-producing regions, more than half having the classification Denominación de Origen (DO) with the majority of the remainder classified as Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT). There are two regions nominated as Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) - Rioja and Priorat - the flagship regions of Spanish winemaking. While most make both red and white wine, some wine regions are more dominated by one style than the other.


DO ALELLA

Since it gained DO status over 50 years ago, Alella has been up against a fierce competitor: urbanisation. The thriving city of Barcelona has invaded its space but this bijou region is well worth exploring for both the character and quality of its wines especially if you are looking for variety in your Spanish white wine repertoire.

Wine has a long history here dating back to the Middle Ages and in more recent times export markets have played an important role in establishing the region’s name as ex-patriot Catalans have often insisted on the wines of their homeland.

Even though the region is relatively small, it features three distinct areas. The coastal area is home to most of the Garnacha Blanca vines. The slightly higher middle area (up to 150 metres) features granite bedrock which is favoured by Pansa Blancà, Pansa Rosadà, Garnacha Tinta and Ull de Llebre. The highest and coolest area, the Valles region, is mostly planted to Pansa Blancà vines as well as varieties which have appeared since the 1980s such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Alella’s crisp, floral, youthful white wines are an ideal match for the excellent local gastronomy, especially the seafood. The local white Pansa Blancà grape, similar to Xarel-lo, is the grape with the most outstanding character in these wines but other white varieties have emerged adding variety to the mix in recent years. As a result the region’s wine styles are now an interesting blend of the traditional and the modern.

A wide selection of Alella’s wines can be tasted at the headquarters of the DO, the historic Masia Can Magarola, a charming country house which dates from the late 13th century.
          
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1956
- Area under vine: 330 hectares
- Altitude: 60-350 metres
- Principal white grapes: Pansà Blanca, Chardonnay. Others: Garnacha Blanca, Pansà Rosada and Malvasia
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and Merlot. Others: Garnacha Peluda and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Climate: 35˚C maximum summer temperature, -3˚C minimum winter temperature, 530mm average annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 6,500 kg/ha
- Ageing: white Crianzas: 3 months in oak, red Crianzas: 6 months in oak
- Number of wineries: 5
- Recent vintages overview: 2004 very good; 2005 excellent; 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.doalella.org


DO ALICANTE

There has been considerable change in the approach to wine production within the Alicante DO over the last decade. The trend has been towards lighter, fresh wines and varietal wines with a new generation of bodegas coming to the fore.

The DO divides broadly into two areas and wine styles. The larger area, the arid valley of Rio Vinalopó, stretches inland from the city of Alicante and here the Monastrell grape reigns supreme flanked by other Spanish and international varieties.

The second area of La Marina, on the northern coast, was incorporated into the DO in 1987. Moscatel grapes thrive in the warm, humid climate here making this the heartland of the sweet wine Moscatel de Alicante.

Alicante's producers are increasingly proud of and keen to promote their traditional Fondillón wine which is made from late harvest Monastrell grapes and aged in large barrels for around 8 years. The wines, which combine a nutty and sweet fruit cake character, typically have an abv of 14-16% and they develop an attractive amber glow as they age.

The Alicante DO therefore offers a wide choice of wines in both modern and traditional styles and this is certainly a place to look for original dessert wines.
      
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1957
- Area under vine: 14,254 hectares
- Subzones: Alicante, La Marina
- Altitude: 400-600 metres
- Principal white grapes: Moscatel de Alejandría. Others: Planta Fina, Merseguera, Chardonnay, Verdil, Sauvignon Blanc, Airén and Macabeo.
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell. Others: Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Tintorea, Tempranillo, Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah
- Climate: 21˚C maximum summer temperature, 13˚C maximum winter temperature, 300-500mm average annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 7,500kg/ha red, 9,000kg/ha white (35hl/ha red/49hl/ha white)
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak and 12 months in bottle, Reserva 12 months in oak and 12 in bottle, Gran Reserva 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottle. - Fondillón wines have around 8 years of barrel ageing.
- Number of wineries: 50
- Recent vintages overview: 2004 very good; 2005 very good; 2006 excellent; 2007 prospects good to very good.
- Website: www: crdo-alicante.org


DO ALMANSA

The DO of Almansa, complete with a dramatic 15th century castle, lies at the south eastern tip of the vast area of Castilla-La Mancha. Its architecture, landscapes and high continental climate have more in common with inland Spain. However, in terms of the grapes grown here, Almansa has much in common with the Levantine regions to the east which border the Mediterranean.

The vineyards are located on the rolling foothills on the outskirts of the towns of Almansa and Bonete and they feature well drained, stony and nutrient-poor soils that are ideal for vine growing.

Red grapes dominate in the region: Monastrell is the leading grape with Tempranillo, Garnacha Tintorera and Cabernet Sauvignon adding personality to blends. Syrah is also on the rise, both for reds and rosés and seems to thrive in the region.

Garnacha Tintorera is a particular point of interest for Almansa. A red fleshed grape and not to be confused with Spain’s more widespread Garnacha Tinta, the variety is enjoying a new lease of life here thanks to modern viticultural and winemaking practices which enhance its dark fruit and chocolate characters.

The producers of Almansa are gradually updating their bodegas and emerging onto the export scene. Significantly, they are offering some of Spain’s most competitively priced wines.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1966
- Area under vine: 7,600 hectares
- Altitude: 700-1000 metres
- Principal white grapes: Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell, Cencibel (Tempranillo), Garnacha Tintorera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah
- Climate: 40˚C maximum summer temperature, -8˚C minimum winter temperature, 350mm annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 3,000-5,500kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, Reserva 12 months oak, Gran Reserva 24 months oak
- Number of wineries: 11
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005 very good; 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.vinosdealmansa.com


DO ARLANZA

One of the youngest of the DOs of Castilla y León, Arlanza lies to the north of Ribera del Duero. The vineyards are located in the middle and lower areas of the River Arlanza valley making this a particularly scenic region.

To the east, towards the Sierra de Covarrubias Mountains, vineyards can be found at over 1,000 metres above sea level – vine growing is possible due to a series of microclimates and the protection of the mountains. This area is also drier than the west and the risk of spring frosts lasts for a longer period. In the west the vineyards are situated at about 700 metres and the conditions are less extreme.

In view of the altitude, the long cold winters and the hot dry summers producers have chosen to focus on Tinta del País, the variety which has proved to give the best results in the region. Small amounts of other varieties are grown including a number of French varieties indeed Petit Verdot is adapting well to the region.
  
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 2008
- Area under vine: 400 hectares
- Altitude: 700-1,000 metres
- Principal white grapes: Albillo and Viura are used for rosé wines
- Principal red grapes: Tinta del País (Tempranillo) represents 95% of total plantings, Garnacha, Mencía, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 23˚C, minimum winter temperature -10˚C, average annual rainfall 450-500 mm
- Maximum crop: red grapes – 7,000kg/ha, white grapes – 10,000kg/ha
- Ageing for red wines: Crianza – 24 months total ageing including 6 months in oak;
- Reserva – 36 months total ageing with 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva 60 months total ageing including 18 months in oak.
- Number of producers: 11
- Website: www.arlanza.org (Spanish only)


DO ARRIBES

Arribes (meaning banks of the river) is located in the Arribes del Duero region which follows the Spanish-Portuguese border and extends over the provinces of Salamanca and Zamora. The land here broadly divides into two kinds: higher flatter ground and steep sided river valleys – the Duero and Tormes cross the region. Fermoselle is the region’s main town and where the two rivers meet here as they flow west.

Arribes graduated to DO status in recognition for the efforts of a small group of producers to invest here and unleash the potential of a long-established wine region.

Red wines are the main focus. Some producer’s are backing the local variety Juan García which is benefiting from the familiar recipe of lower yields and modern winemaking methods to bring out its true character. Meanwhile others are following a completely different tack – equally impressive results are showing from, for example, a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French oak.If you’re passing through some bodegas offer high quality accommodation and a visit to the Arribes del Duero Nature Reserve is highly recommended. Where wine is concerned this is an exciting region still in its infancy.
  
Regional facts:
- DO: established 2007
- Area under vine: 750 hectares
- Altitude: 130-700 metres
- Principal white grapes: Malvasía. Others: Verdejo and Albillo
- Principal red grapes: Juan García, Tempranillo and Rufete. Others: Garnacha, Mencía, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec
- Climate: Average annual temperature 10.9˚C, average annual rainfall 315mm
- Maximum crop: reds 7,000 kg/ha, whites 10,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza - 6 months oak, total oak and bottle age 2 years; Reserva – 1 year in oak and 2 years bottle age; Gran Reserva – 2 years in oak and 3 years bottle age
- Number of producers: 14 (5 co-operatives, 9 privately owned)
- Website: www.vinoarribesduero.com


DO BIERZO

The young DO of Bierzo has attracted a great deal of interest despite being tucked away in the north western corner of Castilla y León and being somewhat removed from the main hub of the Duero Valley. Indeed Bierzo’s climate and wines could be described as a hybrid between Galicia and Castille.

As in the case of neighbouring Valdeorras, Godello and Mencía dominate the quality wines. In Bierzo’s case red wines made from Mencía are causing the excitement thanks to the impressive winemaking skills of both local winemakers and those from other Spanish regions who have recognised its potential here.

Mencía is perfectly at home in the Bierzo’s mild climate and slate soils which combine to produce a wine which is more structured than the light, fruity reds of Galicia but leaner than the powerful styles of the Duero. In summary they have a character of their very own bringing welcome diversity to Spanish reds with their dark chocolate and black fruit flavours which are enhanced by French oak for the main part.

Bierzo features an attractive mix of castles, vineyards, pine forests and delightful mountain scenery. The focal point for wine is the market town of Cacabelos, a popular place for pilgrims to rest along the Camino de Santiago.

These days the locals will welcome you at their restaurants and bodegas. They may suggest a glass of Bierzo red with Bierzo botillo, a typical spicy pork sausage, local trout or pimientos del Bierzo (green peppers). A wide selection of game – boar, partridge, quail and venison - can also be found according to the season.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1989
- Area under vine: 3,980 hectares
- Altitude: 450-1,000 metres
- Principal red grapes: Mencía
- Principal white grapes: Godello
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 24˚C minimum winter temperature 4˚C, average annual rainfall 721mm
- Maximum crop: 11,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: (Reds) Crianza, six months in oak and two in the bottle; Reserva 12 months in the barrel and three in the bottle; Gran Reserva, 18 months in the - barrel and 5 in bottle.
- Number of wineries: 55
- Recent vintages overview: 2000-2004 very good; 2005 excellent; 2006 very good; 2007 excellent; 2008 and 2009 very good  
- Website: www.crdobierzo.es


THE BALEARICS / DO BINISSALEM

Majorca’s maritime-Mediterranean climate and particularly its long, hot and dry summers make it ideal for vine growing just as the same conditions make the island a popular destination for holidays. Indeed today much of the island’s wine production is enjoyed by visitors to the island.

Majorca has two DOs which have both been established relatively recently in recognition of the moved towards lower quantity and better quality.

The first to come was the larger of the two, Binissalem-Mallorca, which is situated in the middle of the island on the gently rolling land principally around the towns of Sencelles, Binissalem and Santa María del Cami on calcium-rich soils.

Red wine dominates here although you can find rosé, white and sparkling wines. The main red grape is the truly local Manto Negro (the rather charming name of black cloak) which, as the name implies, produces deeply coloured, fruity and aromatic wines. At least 50% of the variety is used in red wine blends. Other red grapes include Callet, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah and Prensal Blanc (Xarello), Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay and Moscatel for whites.

The second DO, Plá i Llevant (meaning the plain and east coast of Majorca), is showing great potential for Mediterranean wine. The vineyards are arranged in small, family-run holdings and wines are made from a wide range of traditional and international grape varieties. Prensal Blanc is the main white grape with others including Moscatel, Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay. Reds are made from Callet, Fogoneu and Manto Negro along with Tempranillo, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

All in all there is a wide choice of wines to go with the delightful Mallorquín cuisine. This is based on a rich variety of seafood as well as other specialities such as Mahón cheese. The island is also famous for its pastries and cakes including the gató d’ametlla almond cake.
  
Regional facts:
- DOs established: Binissalem-Mallorca 1991; Plà i Llevant 2001
- Area under vine: Binissalem-Mallorca: 560 hectares; Plà i Llevant 260 hectares
- Altitude: The more coastal vineyards of Plá i Llevant lie at 100 metres while the vineyards of Binissalem-Mallorca lie at 75-220 metres.
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35-38˚C, minimum winter temperature -2 ˚C, average annual rainfall 450mm.
- Recent vintages overview Binissalem-Mallorca: 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005 and 2006 very good.
- Website: www.binissalemdo.com / www.plaillevantmallorca.es


DO BULLAS

Bullas is the most southern of the DOs of the Levant; it shares a border with Andalusia to the west and the plains of the Mediterranean lie to the east. The region has much in common with Jumilla in terms of grapes and there has been a similar quest for quality in Bullas. The move away from bulk production to quality bottled wines was clearly evident by the early 1990s and DO status was granted in 1994 easing the way to export development.

Monastrell is the big story here. The variety accounts for the lion’s share of the region’s wines, indeed DO regulations state that reds and rosés must contain at least 60% of this local grape of character. White wines are produced in far lesser quantities although a fairly wide selection of varieties can be found (see below).

The vineyards of the DO are located mostly around the towns and villages surrounding the picturesque town of Bullas. The highest vineyards, in the western area, are located at 500-800 metres and the cooler temperatures here have particularly significance for quality in this hot southern Mediterranean climate.

Bullas is strongly associated with young, fruity rosé wines but the pendulum is swinging towards more reds – generally young, fresh, lively styles which are sometimes lightly oaked to enhance their fruit character. Bullas is a region to watch closely. See also: DOs of Jumilla, Yecla and Alicante.
  
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1994
- Area under vine: 2,258 hectares
- Altitude: 400-810 metres
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell. Others: Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot, Petit Verdot
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo (Viura). Others: Airén, Chardonnay, Malvasía, Moscatel de Alejandría (and Moscatel de Grano Menudo), Sauvignon Blanc
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 39˚C, minimum winter temperature -4˚C, average annual rainfall 300mm
- Maximum crop: red 5,000 kg/ha; white 6,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 24 months oak/bottle age in total; Reserva 12 months oak, 36 months in oak/bottle in total; Gran Reserva 12 months oak, 36 months oak/bottle in total.
- Number of producers: 12
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 good; 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 very good.  
- Website: www.vinosdebullas.es  




DO CALATAYUD

Since gaining DO status in 1990, Calatayud’s development has been rapid. Indeed the region has attracted a lot of interest from consultant winemakers, both Spanish and foreign, who have recognised the potential for distinctive and high quality wines.

As in the case of neighbouring DOs Campo de Borja and Cariñena, Garnacha is the dominant grape in terms of area. The variety is causing a lot of excitement and the older the vines, the more highly regarded they are.

The Consejo Regulador divides Garnacha vines into four age groups: up to 20 years old, 20-30 years old, 30-40 years old and over 40 years old which is significantly the largest group of the lot. There is also a classification – Calatayud Superior – for wines made from Garnacha vines which are over 50 years old to highlight wines of a very high calibre.

The climate and altitude are two other key ingredients for Calatayud’s wines. Despite the presence of the River Jalón, a significant water source which flows through the town of Calatayud, the region is extremely hot but thankfully this is counteracted by the height of the vineyards, some of which are located as high as 1,000 metres. Meanwhile the soils feature limestone, marl and slate giving growers an interesting combination to work with.

Calatayud’s producers now offer both well made everyday wines and more sophisticated styles and there is generally great value to be found here. The region’s dynamism and determination to get noticed can also be seen in the first stages of the wine route, the new wine exhibition at the Monasterio de Piedra at Nuévalos and the new headquarters for the Consejo Regulador at Calatayud.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1990
- Area under vine: 5,350 hectares
- Altitude: 550-1,000 metres
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Others: Monastrell
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo (Viura), Malvasía and Chardonnay. Others: Garnacha Blanca and Moscatel
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 39˚C, minimum winter temperature -8˚C, average annual rainfall 336mm
- Maximum crop: Reds 7,000 kg/ha; whites 8,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, two years total ageing before release; Reserva 12 months oak, 36 months total ageing; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 60 months total ageing
- Number of producers: 13
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 very good; 2005 excellent; 2006 good; 2007 prospects very good to excellent.   
- Website: www.docalatayud.com


DO CAMPO DE BORJA

The Aragonese DO of Campo de Borja is located to the south of the River Ebro. It is one of three DOs within the province of Zaragoza along with Calatayud and Cariñena. For all three regions Garnacha is a distinguishing feature and it is certainly the main point of interest for Campo de Borja which describes itself as 'El Imperio de la Garnacha'.

Over half Campo de Borja’s vineyards are dedicated to Garnacha including low-yielding older vines (30-50 years old) which have the potential to produce powerful, aromatic wines. This traditional variety is supported by other varieties such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

Another key factor is altitude. Campo de Borja’s vineyards are divided into three key areas each giving its own style of wine. The lower lying area (350-450m) around Magallón and Pozuelo de Aragón produces structured and aromatic wines and here Garnacha ripens relatively early; around Ainzón, Borja and Feudejalón ((450-550m) the wines are more structured and intense and in the highest areas, which include parts of Ainzón and Fuendejalón as well as Tabuenca and El Buste (550-700m), the finest and most elegant styles are sourced.

The soils are generally well drained and various types can be found including limestone, chalk and clay which are all apt for vine growing.

Campo de Borja is home to a small number of export-orientated producers who have invested in the latest winemaking technology. The region has proved that it can produce well made and competitively priced wines but all the elements are in place for greater things to come.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1980
- Area under vine: 7,379 hectares
- Altitude: 350-700m
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Moscatel, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 38.5˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 350-400mm
- Maximum crop: 7,000 kg/ha red and 8,000 kg/ha white
- Ageing: Crianza – at least 24 months oak and bottle age; Reserva - 36 months in total with at least 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – at least 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottle.
- Number of producers: 17
- Recent vintages overview: 2006 good; 2007 very good; 2008 good; 2009 very good
- Website: www.campodeborja.com


DO CARIÑENA

Cariñena, the largest of the DOs of Aragón and lying to the east of Calatayud, is named after the Cariñena grape (also known as Mazuelo in other Spanish regions and Carignan in France). However Garnacha is the dominant grape in Cariñena’s vineyards and international varieties have been adopted by producers in recent years to give the region’s wines broader appeal.

The vineyards extend from the plain of the River Ebro up to the Sierra de Algairén mountains and are located at fairly high altitude (400-800m). The climate is continental and growers face the two extremes of hot, dry summers and cold winters and the challenges of high winds and hail.

Over the last decade around 5,000 hectares have been restructured incorporating modern viticultural practices and a more quality-orientated approach. The style of Cariñena’s bodegas is also changing; smaller estate producers have emerged in recent years and this is a completely new trend for an area where co-operatives have traditionally dominated the landscape.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1932
- Area under vine: 16,000 hectares
- Altitude: 400-800 metres
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Tempranillo and Cariñena. Others: Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah
- Principal white grapes: Viura. Others: Garnacha Blanca, Moscatel Romano and Chardonnay
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 38 ˚C, minimum winter temperature -8˚C, average annual rainfall 325mm
- Maximum crop: Whites 8,000kg/ha; reds 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 12 months bottle; Reserva 12 months oak, 12 months bottle; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle.
- Number of producers: 54
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 good; 2004 and 2005 excellent; 2006 very good; 2007 excellent.   
- Website: www.docarinena.com


DO CATALUÑA

DO Cataluña (Catalunya in Catalan and Catalonia in English) was created in 1999 as an umbrella DO, the first of its kind in Spain. It granted DO status to some areas which previously didn’t fall within the existing DOs as well as providing a broad regional DO (similar to Bordeaux) permitting cross-regional blending and therefore greater flexibility.

Under DO Cataluña producers can source wines from any of the 11 Catalan DOs (over 9,000 hectares) for large wine brands where consistent quality is vital. Meanwhile at the small volume but high quality end of the spectrum, many producers have taken advantage of this classification in view the freedom that it offers for winemakers. As a result DO Cataluña is now seen on many labels and it is a strong indication of quality.

Three wine routes have been mapped out covering the DO to enable visitors to explore the history of wine from the Middle Ages to the present day. The region has many monasteries and sites of historical interest as well as contemporary state-of-the-art facilities which reflect the modern approach to just about everything in this part of Spain.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1999
- Area under vine: All Catalan DOs plus approximately 3,872 hectares for areas which do not have specific DO status
- Subzones: All Catalan DOs and some other areas
- Number of producers: Approximately 150
- Recent vintages overview: 1999 very good; 2000 very good; 2001 excellent; 2002 good; years 2003-2007 all very good.   
- Website: www.do-catalunya.com


DO CAVA

The Spanish word cava means cellar and it was adopted in the early days of the EU to differentiate Spain’s sparkling wines from Champagne. Most cava is made in the Penedés region of Catalonia and production centres on the town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia near Barcelona. This explains the presence of elegant cafés and bars in and around the city where you can enjoy a glass of Spain’s bubbly.

Cava is also produced in small quantities in other regions including Rioja, Aragón, Valencia and Badajoz. In terms of commercial interest, Catalonia is the area of importance and cava is big business here – around 200 million bottles are produced annually. Just under half this figure is sold overseas making cava Spain’s leading wine export.

Catalan cava is made from three key grapes: Xarello provides the structure for blends, Parellada a creamy rich character and Macabeo gives acidity and freshness. Some producers also use Chardonnay which performs well in the higher vineyards of Penedés, indeed plantings of Chardonnay have been increasingly in recent years. Red grapes including Pinot Noir and Trepat are used to make rosé cavas.

All cava wines are made according to the traditional method (as Champagne) and most wines are non-vintage -they are a blend of base wines from recent vintages ensuring consistency year after year.

The industry has fine tuned its viticultural practices and production methods over the last couple of decades to give it a strong competitive edge in the sparkling wine arena. By picking each variety at a more appropriate time producers have managed to achieve better fruit quality and freshness and the labour-intensive riddling process (whereby the yeast is gradually moved to the neck of the bottle) has been mechanised with the introduction of gyro palettes.

All this means that the major cava producers can get their products to market relatively quickly and with a attractive price tag for many consumers; cava does not have to be just for a special occasion.

There are different styles of cava to discover from cavas more suited to the aperitif moment through to those which complement desserts. They fall into the following categories: the very dry extra brut (no dosage/added sugar); brut (0-20g); seco (0-30g); semiseco (30-50g) and the sweetest - dulce (50g+).

In the best years producers make vintage cavas which are likely to have longer ageing. The vintage guide below gives you an indication of recent vintages to look for.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 1959
- Area under vine: 32,009 hectares
- Subzones: Mainly Catalonia plus Rioja, Aragón, Valencia and Badajoz
- Altitude: 100-700 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo (Viura), Xarello, Parellada and Subirat (Malvasía Riojana). Others: Chardonnay
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Trepat
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 550 mm
- Maximum crop: 12,000 kg/ha white; 8,000 kg/ha red
- Ageing: Basic cavas must be aged for at least 9 months on the lees and can be released a year after the vintage. Reserva Cavas must spend at least 15 months on the lees and Gran Reservas 30
- Number of producers: 271
- Recent vintages overview: 2000 excellent; 2001 very good; 2002 very good; 2003 good; 2004 good; 2005 very good; 2006 excellent; 2007 prospects very good.   
- Website: www.crcava.es


THE CHACOLÍ  DO´s

The Chacolí wines of the Basque Country share one white grape in common - Hondarribi Zuri – which accounts for over 80% of plantings. Unique to this northern maritime climate, the variety produces a crisp, light wine (9.5-11.5˚) with a hint of green apple and sometimes a little spritz.

The wines are not generally aged, they are simple wines which make an ideal aperitif with a few tapas as well as a great match to the superb local seafood. They are generally presented in a tall, narrow bottle and your waiter might serve the wine from height to maximise its spritz.

The region gets generous amounts of rainfall by Spanish standards as can be seen in the lush green Alpine landscape dotted with cream and red caseríos (country houses). Together with the spectacular coastal scenery from the French border to San Sebastián, this is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque regions of Spain.

To ensure adequate drainage the vineyards are often situated on slopes and sometimes they are trained on pergolas, especially if they are close to the coast.

A great place to appreciate the vineyards in this region is in and around the fishing port of Guetaria. Here you can enjoy absolutely fresh prawns, hake, sole, bream, halibut or turbot cooked on an outside grill “a la plancha” overlooking the sea and set against the steep surrounding vineyards.

Over in the UK some specialist wine merchants stock Chacolí wines but not many largely due to the fact that production is small-scale and not much wine is exported. If you’ve had the Chacolí experience in Spain, you will understand why.

Regional facts:
- DO: Álava: 2002, Guetaria: 1990, Vizcaya: 1994
- Area under vine: Álava 70 hectares; Guetaria; 400 hectares; Vizcaya 276 hectares
- Altitude: 10-150 metres
- Principal white grapes: Hondarribi Zuri (Ondarribi Zuri in Basque). Others: Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu
- Principal red grapes: Hondarribi Beltza
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 19˚C, minimum winter temperature 7.5˚C, average annual rainfall 899mm
- Maximum crop: 12,000-13,000 kg/ha
- Chacolí de Álava: www.txakolidealava.com
- Chacolí de Guetaria:www.getariakotxakolina.com
- Chacolí de Vizcaya: www.bizkaikotxakolina.org


DO CIGALES

Cigales is located to the north west of Ribera del Duero and 13km from Valladolid. All the DOs of Castilla y León bring something different to the party and the outstanding feature of Cigales is rosé wine. However there are also interesting developments in red wines making this a region to watch.

As in the case of Ribera del Duero and Toro, Tempranillo is the main grape cultivated and the dominant variety for both rosé and red wines.

Rosé wines fall into two categories: the young Cigales Nuevo and the more structured Cigales rosés which are released just over a year after the respective vintage and generally spend some time in the barrel. Interestingly the rosés are made from a blend of red and white grapes – mostly Tempranillo with around 20% of Albillo and Verdejo. (The sweet tasting Albillo offers good acidity and small amounts are added to both rosés and reds).

There is a growing belief that Cigales has great potential for red wines and if this can be pulled off its reputation is likely to develop quickly. The essential ingredients seem to be in place, namely the rocky limestone soils and high altitude together with a continental climate similar to that of Ribera del Duero.

Red wines must be made from 85% of Tempranillo.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1991
- Area under vine: 2,400 hectares
- Altitude: 700-800 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Garnacha and Garnacha Gris. Others: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
- Principal white grapes: Albillo and Verdejo. Others: Sauvignon Blanc
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 39˚C, minimum winter temperature -6˚C, average annual rainfall 425mm
- Maximum crop: 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – two years minimum ageing including 12 months in oak; Reserva – three years minimum including 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – five years minimum including at least 24 months in oak.
- Number of wineries: 35
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 excellent; 2004 excellent; 2005 very good; 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
     

DO CONCA DE BARBERÁ

Conca de Barberà is located in the heart of Catalonia to the west of Penedès. Conca means valley and the position of this DO is ideal for producing healthy vines both from the point of view of the chalky, alluvial soils which are well drained by the Francolí and Anguera rivers and the shelter provided by the surrounding mountains.

The vineyards have traditionally been a valuable source of base wines for Cava producers and this is still an important part of the business here.

DO status was granted to the area in 1985 and since then there has been significant investment in new wineries. Modern wines from quality-orientated producers, notably from non-local grapes such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon or even Pinot Noir, have quickly gained recognition for Conca de Barberà at home and abroad.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1985
- Area under vine: 5,888 hectares
- Altitude: 350-600 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo and Parellada. Others: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Trepat and Tempranillo. Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature -6˚C, average annual rainfall 500mm
- Maximum crop: 10,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 18 months bottle; Reserva 12 months oak, 12 months bottle, Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle
- Number of producers: 18
- Recent vintages overview: 2002-2005 all very good; 2005 good; 2006 excellent; 2007 prospects very good.
- Website: www.doconcadebarbera.com


DO CONDADO DE HUELVA

Condado de Huelva’s tradition of winemaking lies in fortified or generoso wines which are close relations to those of Jerez – similar grapes are used though the white grape Zalema plays a major role here – and, as in Jerez, the solera blending system is used.

The traditional styles fall into two categories: the lighter Condado Pálido wines are at least 15% abv while the Viejo wines, which are not unlike Oloroso Sherries, are between 17-22% abv.

Producers are increasingly offering young, light, modern styles from traditional and international grape varieties under the DO regulations. Red wines do not yet have DO status (they are made as local Vino de la Tierra or table wines) though this could change in the next couple of years.

In recent years vinegar has been incorporated under the DO. It is made by at least nine producers and is growing in popularity giving Condado de Huelva another string to its bow.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 1963
- Area under vine: 4,000ha
- Altitude: 25m
- Principal white grapes: Zalema (80% or more of vineyards), Palomino Fino, Listán de Huelva, Garrido Fino, Moscatel de Alejandría and Pedro Ximénez.
- Experimental: Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
- Principal red grapes (experimental status only): Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 28 ˚C, minimum winter temperature 9˚C, average annual rainfall 550mm.
- Maximum crop: 10,000kg/ha
- Ageing: Condado Blanco 24 months; Pálido and Viejo styles – 24 months in a traditional solera
- Number of producers: 36
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 good; 2004 to 2006 very good; 2007 average.
- Website: www.condadodehuelva.es


THE COSTERS DEL SEGRE

Costers del Segre means 'the banks of the River Segre'; the river flows down from the Pyrenees and joins the River Ebro just south of Lleida (Lérida).

The DO is made up of seven districts surrounding Lleida. They bring together contrasting soils and climates and one of the longest and most varied lists of grape varieties of all the Catalan DOs. Les Garrigues shares some similarities with Montsant and Priorat - old vine Garnacha and Macabeo can be found here - whereas Artesa has more in common with Aragón’s Somontano to the west.

The driving force behind Costers del Segre was Raïmat, one of Spain’s largest single estates. It was developed according to a comprehensive agricultural plan instigated by Manuel Raventós which incorporated replanting vines and developing other crops during the most of the 20th century.

Further inland and drier than the more coastal areas, Catalan varieties didn’t thrive on the Raïmat estate, so Tempranillo and other international varieties were introduced and proved to be successful. This resulted in a truly international grape mix for the DO from the year of its creation onwards.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1988
- Area under vine: 4,688 hectares
- Sub-zones: Artesa de Segre, Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià, Valls del Riucorb and Urgell
- Altitude: 250-700 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello, Chardonnay, Moscatel (de grano grande and Alejandría) Garnacha Blanca, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, Gewürztraminer and Malvasía. Others: Albariño and Moscatel de Frontignan
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell, Trepat, Cariñena, Pinot Noir and Syrah
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C , average annual rainfall 385-450mm
- Maximum crop: 16,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza - six months in oak and 18 months in bottle; Reserva - 12 months in oak and 24 months bottle; Gran Reserva - 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottle.
- Number of producers: 8 producers and 30 bottlers.
- Recent vintages overview: 2007, 2008 and 2009 - very good
- Website: www.costersdelsegre.es


DO EMPORDA

DO Empordà has a Mediterranean coastal location; it is the furthest north of the Catalan DOs reaching the border with France.

Historically rosé wines have dominated production here made from Cariñena (Carignan) principally and Garnacha indeed this DO is the source of some of the best rosés that Catalonia has to offer.

Producers in this small DO have followed the lead of other innovative and forward-looking DOs along the east coast by turning their attention towards modern styles of white and red wines. Indeed the combination of Mediterranean climate cooled by the local Tramontana wind favours quality wine from a wide variety of grapes including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Thanks to the skills of a new generation of winemakers, both rosés and newer wine styles from Ampurdán-Costa Brava are earning a good reputation for the DO.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 1975
- Area under vine: 2,977 hectares
- Altitude: The highest vineyards are at 200 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Garnacha Blanca. Others: Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Macabeo, Chardonnay and Xarello
- Principal red grapes: Cariñena and Garnacha. Others: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 29˚C, minimum winter temperature 1.5˚C, average annual rainfall 600 mm
- Maximum crop: 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing (red wines): Crianza 6 months oak and 12 months in bottle; Reserva 12 months oak and 12 months in bottle; Gran Reserva 24 months in oak and 36 in bottle
- Number of producers: 32
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 very good; 2005 excellent; 2006 very good; 2007 excellent   
- Website: www.doemporda.com


DO JEREZ-XÉRÉS-SHERRY Y MANZANILLA SANLÚCAR

A new generation of consumers is discovering the wealth of styles of sherry, the fortified wine unique to the region of Jerez in south west Spain.

The DO of Jerez is based around the three towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The bodegas identify quite strongly with their respective locations, especially those of the coastal Sanlúcar de Barrameda where Manzanilla, the lightest style of sherry, is produced.

All sherry producers source their grapes from the bright, chalky ‘albariza’ soils of Jerez. Palomino, the main sherry grape, thrives in the vineyards here alongside the other two key grapes - Pedro Ximénez, which makes a rich, black, raisiny wine for blending and treacle-like dessert wines and Moscatel which makes a delightful lighter dessert wine.

After the soil and the grapes the third major ingredient is oak. Sherry wines mature in large oak butts (500 litre barrels) which are arranged in three row high ‘soleras’. The young wines are poured into the top row and wine is then transferred downwards enabling the fresher wines to blend with those of more maturity and a consistent style for each bodega year after year.

There is a sherry wine for most occasions and foods and the wines fall into three broad categories. Dry styles range from very dry Manzanillas and Finos to slightly richer amber and mahogany coloured Amontillados, Olorosos and the rare Palo Cortado style. Sweeter sherries include pale cream, medium and cream. Finally there are natural sweet sherries which are made from the Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes. The alcoholic strength of sherries ranges from 15.5˚ for the lightest styles (Manzanilla and Fino) to 22˚ for sweeter, more structured wines.

The best way to learn about the fascinating art of sherry production and appreciate a wine straight from the cask is to visit a bodega in Jerez where the producers are well known for their tours, tastings and hospitality. There is a long association with the UK where sherry has been enjoyed for over 400 years, indeed many names of the original English, Scottish or Irish sherry shippers can still be seen in the industry today.

Whether you’re in Spain or the UK, the best way to enjoy dry sherry is fresh, chilled and with food - nuts, olives or crisps or perhaps some serrano ham are ideal for sherry as an aperitif and different sherries can be enjoyed throughout the meal. See also DO Montilla-Moriles.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1933
- Area under vine: 8,800 hectares
- Altitude: 20-100 metres
- Principal white grapes: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature 0˚C, average annual rainfall 620 mm
- Maximum crop: 11,420 kg/ha
- Ageing: Most wines are non-vintage but all sherry spends at least 3 years in the solera system before being bottled. Specific age classifications have been introduced to distinguish older wines: there is now special status for 12 and 15-year-old sherries while the terms V.O.S. (very old sherry) and V.O.R.S. (very old rare sherry) have been created for 20 and 30-year-old wines respectively. Fino Superior and Manzanilla Superior classifications are used for Fino and Manzanilla wines with longer ageing credentials (five to seven years).
- Number of producers: 63 shippers
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005 and 2006 very good; 2007 excellent.
- Website: www.sherry.org


DO JUMILLA

The producers of Jumilla turned misfortune into an opportunity when the region finally succumbed to the deadly phylloxera vine louse in the late 80s. Growers were forced into replanting a significant proportion of vineyards using grafted vines which have proved to resist phylloxera in many other wine regions. They replaced vines that had lost the battle to phylloxera with a higher calibre of rootstocks and grape varieties better suited to the wine styles enjoyed by modern-day consumers and higher quality wines.

The Monastrell variety (Mourvèdre in France) dominates red wine here and wines made from the variety have been earning critical acclaim since the early 90s both at home and abroad. This truly Mediterranean variety is well suited to the climate here thanks to its thick skin and ability to resist drought and frost. Along with other Mediterranean crops – almond trees and olive groves are a common sight – the vineyards of Jumilla provide a colourful landscape.

Today’s Monastrell-based wines are much fresher and fruit-driven and tannins are kept in check thanks to, for example, harvesting earlier in vineyard and carefully controlled macerations and oak ageing. The hot, dry climate also makes it possible for producers to grow organic grapes.

While Monastrell steals the limelight here other red grapes, especially the international varieties Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, provide a supporting role both in blends and occasionally as solo acts. Indeed producers are increasingly innovative in terms of both blends and oak usage in this region.

If you’re visiting the region, a visit to the town of Jumilla is highly recommended. The 15th century castle, peering down from a hilltop, is just one of the monuments worth visiting and there are number of excellent restaurants, some with charming central patios where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner. There are also great places for tapas – just ask a local. See also: DOs of Bullas, Yecla and Alicante.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1966
- Area under vine: 29,000 hectares
- Altitude: 400-800 metres
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell dominates. Others: Garnacha Tintorera, Cencibel (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot
- Principal white grapes: Airén, Macabeo (Viura), Pedro Ximénez, Malvasía, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Moscatel
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature 0˚C, average annual rainfall 300mm.
- Maximum crop: white 4,500 kg/ha; red 4,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza - six months oak and 12 months in bottle; Reserva - 12 months in oak and 12 months in bottle; Gran Reserva - 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottle.
- Number of producers: 45
- Recent vintages overview: 2005 excellent; 2006 and 2007 very good; 2008 very good; 2009 very good
- Website: www.vinosdejumilla.org / www.rutadelvinojumilla.com


DO LA MANCHA

Situated in the southern part of the Meseta, La Mancha is around 60km from Madrid. It is both Spain’s largest DO by far and one of the oldest DOs dating back to the 1930s. The region has inevitably seen changes, especially in the last 20 years of the 20th century and today its role is highly significant for both the home market and export.

If you are driving through, you’ll see vineyards dotting the plains almost as far as the eye can see and the occasional windmill on the landscape. Vines are traditionally grown as bush vines and spaced quite widely apart to allow them to take as much water from the soil as possible in this extreme climate. However today there are more trellised vineyards and irrigation is allowed – a particularly significant development for La Mancha.

There has also been a move to a wide range of quality-orientated Spanish and international grapes. The white grape Airén still dominates in terms of plantings, flanked by Macabeo and, increasingly, Chardonnay. But it’s the reds (including rosés) that offer the most interest both as affordable, easy-drinking styles year in year out as well as more sophisticated aged wines. Tempranillo dominates red wines with supporting roles from a number of French varieties which have adapted well to the local climate.

By the early 80s La Mancha’s main bodegas had equipped themselves to cater for the demands of the modern wine consumer and compete with their New World peers. Meanwhile a higher tier of producers were determined to get themselves noticed for doing things differently and achieving a superior level of wines to rank alongside Spain’s finest. The result was the emergence of an association of producers called the Grandes Pagos de Castilla which gave birth to the concept of the DO Pago in 2003.

La Mancha was made famous by Miguel Cervantes in his epic tale of Don Quixote but the region has other claims to fame including its gastronomic delights. This is the home of manchego cheese, the classic gazpacho soup which is served in many different guises here, el pisto manchego (a vegetable dish based on peppers), pickled aubergines and the fabulous game dishes of Toledo. Needless to say there is a great choice of wine to accompany your meal.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1932
- Area under vine: 180,000 hectares
- Altitude: 700 metres on average
- Principal red grapes: Cencibel (Tempranillo). Others: Mencía, Malbec, Bobal, Graciano, Cabernet Franc, Monastrell and Pinot Noir
- Principal white grapes: Airén. Others: Macabeo (Viura), Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Verdejo, Moscatel de grano menudo, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Torrontés, Pedro Ximénez and Parellada.
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 45˚C, minimum winter temperature -15˚C, average annual rainfall 300-400mm
- Maximum crop: 10,500-11,900 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – at least six months in oak; Reserva – at least 12 months in oak and 24 months in bottle; Gran Reserva – at least 18 months in oak and 42 months in bottle
- Number of producers: 280
- Recent vintages overview: 2008 and 2009 – very good
- Website: www.lamanchawines.com


DO VINOS DE MADRID

The wines from the region bordering the Spanish capital are arguably one of the country’s best kept secrets. Even wine-loving madrileños are probably not aware of the choice and quality now on their doorstep.

In the past the Madrid wine region extended around the city but many vineyards have made way for urban development - the city’s airport stands on land which was formerly vineyards.

Today DO Vinos de Madrid is a small, quality-orientated region located to the south of the city. Red wines, made from both Spanish and international grape varieties, are the main focus but local white grapes such as Malvar and Albillo also deserve to be mentioned and offer something different.

The three sub-zones within the DO vary quite significantly in terms of climate, soils and the grape varieties planted. Arganda, the closest to the city and reachable by metro, is home to over half of the region’s producers. This is the warmest area and Tempranillo dominates the vineyards favoured by soils with high clay content.

Garnacha has traditionally dominated the area of Navalcarnero, to the west of Arganda, however some producers are achieving impressive results with alternative varieties such as Syrah.

Perhaps the area that has experienced the most change in recent years is San Martín, the area furthest from the capital in the south west of the DO. Here the Atlantic influence is stronger, the climate is fresher and the landscape is far more mountainous with the Sierra de Guadarrama providing an impressive visual backdrop.

Winemaking is enjoying a renaissance in San Martín thanks to renewed interest in old vine Garnacha. Vineyards that were abandoned are being rejuvenated by professional viticulturalists and winemakers who are keen to find a place in Spain’s high quality wine arena.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1990
- Area under vine: 8,196 hectares
- Sub-zones: Arganda, Navalcarnero and San Martín
- Altitude: 500-1,000 metres
- Principal white grapes: Malvar, Airén and Albillo. Others: Viura, Parellada, Torrontés and Moscatel de grano menudo
- Principal red grapes: Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Garnacha. Others: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 41˚C, minimum winter temperature -8˚C, average annual rainfall 461-658mm
- Maximum crop: whites 8,000 kg/ha, reds 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – minimum 6 months oak in oak; Reserva – minimum 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – minimum 24 months in oak
- Number of producers: 45
- Recent vintages overview: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 very good; 2007-2009 all very good
- Website: www.vinosdemadrid.es


DO MANCHUELA

Manchuela, formerly part of La Mancha, lies on the eastern side of the area known as the Meseta which cuts across central Spain. The main town is Albacete and the region’s most significant neighbours for comparison are Ribera del Júcar (another area which has split from La Mancha) to the west and Utiel-Requena to the east towards the Mediterranean coast. Manchuela is also contained between two river valleys of note: the rivers Júcar and Cabriel virtually trace the frontiers with Ribera del Júcar and Utiel-Requena.

Manchuela became a DO in its own right in 2000 allowing the region to develop a separate identity. Unlike La Mancha, the Bobal grape reigns supreme here; it is generally cultivated in the traditional “en vaso” (bush vine) form although there is a gradual move to modern trellis systems. The vines tend to be low-yielding and are able to withstand the very dry summers in this region.

Overall conditions are very favourable for quality: the influence of cooling winds from the east makes the climate slightly milder than that of La Mancha while dry conditions and plenty of sun keep diseases at bay and the use of pesticides to a minimum. Fresh night time breezes favour a slow ripening of grapes and good colour and flavour development.

Winemakers are achieving better quality wines with Bobal for both red and rosé wines while other varieties including Syrah are showing great promise. There are some serious producers here; it’s just a question of spreading the word. See also DOs of Utiel-Requena and Ribera del Júcar.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 2000
- Area under vine: 10,000 hectares (3,000 ha in full production)
- Altitude: 700-800 metres
- Principal red grapes: Bobal. Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Merlot, Monastrell, Moravia Dulce and Syrah
- Principal white grapes: Albillo, Chardonnay, Macabeo (Viura), Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 25˚C, minimum winter temperature 4˚C, average annual rainfall 463mm
- Maximum crop: 55-70 hl/ha red, 45-80 hl/ha white
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 12 months bottle age; Reserva 12 months oak, 12 months bottle age; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle age.
- Number of producers: 29
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 good; 2005, 2006 and 2007 very good.
- Website: www.do-manchuela.com


DO MÁLAGA Y DO SIERRAS

DO Málaga is home to classic Spanish sweet wines produced mostly from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. The dramatic development of tourism has had an impact on the area under vine in the region since the 1960s. However the wine industry has survived, indeed it is enjoying renewed interest as witnessed by the arrival of winemakers from other Spanish regions and abroad.

The (DO Málaga) vineyards are located in two areas. Those to the east of the city of Málaga are the source of most of the PX grapes while the western vineyards, near Estepona and towards Cádiz, are mainly planted to Moscatel.

Most Málaga wines are made from PX; the must is enriched by drying the grapes to raisins in the sun before ageing the wines in either individual butts or a solera system. Meanwhile Moscatel wines are seeing a renaissance as winemakers adopt modern winemaking techniques to extract the delightful citric characters of this variety which has thrived here for centuries.

In 2000 a third area, Sierras de Málaga, emerged around the towns of Ronda and Arriate at a much higher altitude of around 750m. The soils here are more inclined to be clay based and the climate is continental. Producers focus on contemporary wine styles – white, rosé and red – from a wide range of grape varieties as detailed below.

The wines of Málaga and Sierras de Málaga are well worth seeking out if you’re visiting the region and wine merchants in the UK are snapping them up too, so you can enjoy them back home as well.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 1937
- Area under vine: 1,172ha
- Altitude: 600m
- Principal white grapes: DO Málaga – Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel Morisco.
- DO Sierras de Málaga – Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel Morisco.
- Principal red grapes: Sierras de Málaga - Romé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Tempranillo. Also Garnacha, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature 0-5˚C according to area, average annual rainfall 500-900mm
- Maximum crop: 11,500kg/ha
- Ageing: DO Sierras de Málaga minimum ageing - Crianza 6 months in oak, 18 in bottle; Reserva 12 months in oak, 24 in bottle; Gran Reserva 24 months in oak, 36 in bottle
- DO Málaga minimum oak ageing: Málaga 6 months; Noble 24 months; Añejo 36 months; Transñejo 60 months.
- Number of producers: 18
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 very good; 2005 excellent.   
- Website: www.vinomalaga.com


DO MÉNTRIDA

Méntrida can be found to the north of Toledo and the River Tajo. Its nearest neighbours are the DOs of La Mancha to the south east and Vinos de Madrid which it borders to the north. The region’s export business is still small but there is a clear trend towards better quality wines which bodes well for the future. White wines were granted DO status in 2000, yields were reduced under the DO regulations in 2003 and more bodegas are now equipped with ageing facilities.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1960
- Area under vine: 13,000 hectares
- Altitude: 200-500 metres
- Principal white grapes: Albillo, Macabeo (Viura), Sauvignon, Chardonnay
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 45˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 300mm
- Maximum crop: white 13,000kg/ha; red 12,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months in oak, Reserva 12 months in oak, Gran Reserva 24 months in oak and 36 months bottle age
- Number of producers: 41
- Website: www.domentrida.es

DO MONDÉJAR

Mondéjar is located in the province of Guadalajara to the west of Madrid. The region is one of Spain’s smallest DOs but it has followed the trend of many other Spanish regions by moving away from bulk production to bottled wines. Youthful, fruity wines from Macabeo and Tempranillo are most commonly found here.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1997
- Area under vine: 833 hectares
- Altitude: 800 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo (Viura), Malvar, Torrontés
- Principal red grapes: Cencibel (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 39.5˚C, minimum winter temperature -8˚C, average annual rainfall 501mm
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 12 months bottle age; Reserva 12 months oak, 12 months bottle age; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle age.


DO MONTERREI

Monterrei, meaning the king’s mountain, is located in the province of Orense just across the Portuguese border in the south east of Galicia. The ideal place to view the region’s vineyards is from the hilltop fortress at the town of Monterrei which was used to fend off the Portuguese in the 17th century.

The Atlantic influence is not as strong here and summer temperatures are the highest of the region making it possible to produce both white and red wines in the DO. Most of the vineyards are located on the slopes lining the River Támega.

Winemaking has traditionally focused on white grapes, mostly Doña Blanca (or Dona Branca as it is known locally), however the more impressive whites come from the Godello or Treixadura grapes. Red wines, mostly from Mencía and increasingly Tempranillo, are emerging with greater complexity from some of the recently established producers.

The Monterrei DO is Galicia’s most recent having been created just over a decade ago. It has a rich cultural backdrop to support its wines: most of the region’s natural springs are found here and the market town of Verín has a long tradition of colourful carnivals. The celebration, with wine and food playing an important role, takes place in February and is well known throughout Spain.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1996
- Area under vine: 500 hectares
- Subzones: Val do Monterrei, Ladeira de Monterrei
- Altitude: 400-450 metres
- Principal white grapes: Doña Blanca, Godello and Treixadura
- Principal red grapes: Mencía and Bastardo
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 42˚C, minimum winter temperature 5˚C, average annual rainfall 683mm
- Maximum crop: 13,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza wines – 6 months oak and 12 months bottle ageing.
- Number of wineries: 16
- Recent vintages overview: 2004, 2005 and 2006 were all classified as excellent by the DO; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.domonterrei.com 


DO MONTILLA-MORILES

Montilla wine shares some similarities with sherry, its Andalusian cousin but there are some significant differences in grape, production and wine styles which place it in a class of its own.

The DO of Montilla-Morilles is located around the towns which make up its name in the province of Córdoba. This is the heart of Moorish Spain as can be seen in the region’s crowning jewel – La Mezquita, the 1,000 year old mosque at the city of Córdoba.

Traditional Montilla wines are made from the Pedro Ximénez grape which, unlike sherry, are mainly unfortified and ferment naturally to 14-22˚. The exception is the PX dessert wine, the rich and sweetest style which is made from grapes which are dried in the sun before being fortified with brandy spirit. Montilla wines are aged in casks or earthenware pots called tinajas.

The traditional wines include the following styles: Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. (In export the terms dry, medium and sweet are often seen on labels). In style Finos are not as dry and are more structured than those of Jerez and they have lower acidity. Montilla wines are also characterised by the flavour of chestnut.

In recent years a young, lighter white wine style has emerged in the region known as 'joven afrutado'. These wines are made from Baladí, Torrontés, Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez grapes which are picked earlier to achieve good acidity and cool-fermented. They appear on the market soon after the vintage. See also DO Jerez.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1945
- Area under vine: 10,082 hectares
- Altitude: 125-690 metres
- Principal grape: Pedro Ximénez. Others: Lairén, Baladí, Moscatel and Torrontés
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 45˚C, minimum winter temperature -6˚C, average annual rainfall 625 mm.
- Maximum crop: 12,500 kg/ha
- Number of producers: 170 (10 exporters)
- Website: www.montilla-moriles.org


DO MONSANT

DO Montsant was established only in 2001 when the prime vineyards of high-altitude Falset won separate status from Tarragona.

The area is made up of a particularly dynamic set of producers and its vineyards form an almost complete circle around Priorato. Indeed a number of winemakers work in both DOs and they can often be seen comparing notes at El Cairat restaurant in Falset. (A visit to this restaurant is highly recommended if you’re visiting the town complete with its castle and palaces.)

Montant’s soils are not on the same high calibre level as those of Priorato with the exception of Falset and Cornudella de Montsant where the highly prized llicorella (slate and quartzite) features but there is an interesting combination of soils across the DO including chalk, slate and granitic.

Like its illustrious neighbour, Montsant produces concentrated red wines from old vine Garnacha Tinta and Cariñena and international grapes have adapted well here in recent years. Montsant’s producers are a combination of modern co-operatives and family bodegas. They are united in their quest for high quality making this a DO to watch closely.
               
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 2001
- Area under vine: 2,000 hectares
- Altitude: 200-700 metres
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Garnacha Roja, Cariñena, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Monastrell and Picapoll Negre
- Principal white grapes: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Parellada, Pansal, Moscatel de grano menudo and Chardonnay.
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 30˚C, minimum winter temperature 7˚C, average annual rainfall 500-600mm
- Maximum crop: 10,000kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza - six months in oak, wines released after two years; Reserva - 12 months oak, wines released after three years; Gran Reserva - 24 months oak, wines released after five years
- Number of producers: 56
- Recent vintages overview: 2006 and 2007 excellent; 2008 and 2009 very good
- Website: www.domontsant.com


DO NAVARRA

The northern region of Navarra borders the Basque Country, Rioja, Aragón and the Pyrenees. The region encompasses both cooler mountainous areas and warm, sun-drenched fertile valleys which are significant influences for its wine styles and gastronomy.

Navarra was traditionally the source of Spain’s rosé wines and some of the country’s best rosés are still made here mainly from the Garnacha grape. A major change in direction came about in the early 1980s when the government-funded EVENA research station, located at Olite, started to investigate a wide variety of grapes and the region’s soils to establish the best way forward for red wine making in the region.

Today red wine accounts for at least 75% of the region’s production and an eclectic mix of styles can be found. You can generally rely on the region offering fairly modern styles based on a mix of local and international grapes with careful measures of oak.

Navarra has a rich cultural backdrop. Its epicentre is the vibrant city of Pamplona, the setting for the famous San Fermín festival which features eight days of bull running. Other aspects of interest include the fairytale-like medieval parador at Olite, one of Spain’s finest historic monuments, as well as lakes, gorges and spectacular mountain ranges and a comprehensive wine route.

Local gastronomic specialities go hand in hand with Navarra’s wines. They include suckling pig and other fine meats, trout from local rivers and the freshest fish from the nearby northern coast. The region is also well known for asparagus and the distinctive triangular red ‘pimiento del piquillo’ peppers which are simply a must.

There are signs of a new determination for this region to build a stronger image and get its wines noticed in the international market, so watch this space.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1933
- Area under vine: 13,500
- Sub-zones: Ribera Baja, Ribera Alta, Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe and Baja Montaña
- Altitude: 250-650 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Graciano and Cabernet Sauvignon. Others: Merlot, Garnacha, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Mazuelo
- Principal white grapes: Viura, Chardonnay, Mostcatel de grano menudo, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasía and Garnacha Blanca.
- Climate: 28˚C maximum summer temperature, -2˚C minimum winter temperature, 448-683 mm average annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 8,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Roble – three months in oak; Crianza – 24 months in total with at least 9 months in oak; Reserva – 36 months in total with at least 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – 60 months in total with at least 18 months in oak.
- Number of wineries: 116
- Recent vintages overview: 2004 and 2005 excellent; 2006-2009 very good.   
- Website: www.navarrawine.com


DO PENEDÉS

The DO of Penedès is where Spain’s modern-day winemaking revolution started. By the 1970s stainless steel tanks had been adopted here and the area began to develop in wine terms with similar dynamism to the nearby city of Barcelona.

The area stretches from the coast to the higher altitudes inland and it features an array of hillsides, coves and valleys providing a rich choice of terroirs for the viticulturalist and winemaker.

Penedès divides into three areas. The lowest “baix-Penedès” (0-250m) is home to the white Cava grapes Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. In the middle “mitja-Penedès” (250-500m) Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon perform well as do the Cava trio. The highest “alt-Penedès” (500-800m), taking in some of the highest vineyards in Europe, is where Chardonnay and other cool climate varieties are grown as well as the finest Parellada grapes.

White grapes dominate wine production; there is a slight downward trend in the volumes produced for Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada and an upward trend for Chardonnay and other aromatic white varieties. Red varieties are increasingly favoured especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot while the ancient traditional variety Samsó is enjoying a renaissance.

The Consejo Regulador of Penedès has recently introduced the classification “Vino Dulce de Frío”, an ice wine equivalent. This natural sweet wine can be made from a wide variety of grapes including Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, authorised Moscatel varieties and Riesling.

Vistors to Penedès can experience the great local gastronomy. Fresh fish from the port of Villanova i la Geltrú, one of Spain’s most important fishing ports, is a highlight and further inland game and duck feature widely on restaurant menus.

A tour of the region should also include Vilafranca. Its museum in the Gothic area occupies a former royal palace and it accommodates the Museo del Vino comprising eleven rooms which trace the history and evolution of wine in the region.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1960
- Area under vine: 26,172 hectares (approximately split 21 white and 5 red)
- Sub-zones: Lower, middle and high Penedès
- Altitude: Sea level to 800 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Xarel-lo, Parellada, Subirat-Parent (Malvasía Riojana) and Chardonnay. Others: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Muscatel varieties (Muscat d’Alexandrie and Frontignan)
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Monastrell, Samsó and Merlot. Others: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Syrah
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 33˚C, minimum winter temperature -3˚C , average annual rainfall 525mm
- Maximum crop: Red 9,324 kg/ha, white 11.700 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 18 months bottle age; Reserva 12 months oak, 24 months bottle age, Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle age
- Number of producers: 153
- Recent vintages overview: 1999-2001 very good; 2002 good; 2003 very good; 2004 good; 2005 and 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.dopenedes.es


DO PLA DE BAGES

Pla de Bages, located in the west of the province of Barcelona, is the smallest of the DOs of Catalonia. Some of the most scenic Catalan vineyards surround the towns and villages including Artès and Manresa, the main town of the DO and dating back to the 12th century.

There are around a dozen producers here who are taking a quality approach to still wine making and developing new wines alongside the traditional business of base wines for Cava.

The traditional grapes found in Pla de Bages are the white varieties Picapoll (including some old vines of great character) and Macabeo. In recent years growers have introduced red varieties such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as Chardonnay all of which are well suited to the climate.

Wine styles range from young, light, fresh wines to more sophisticated reds produced with the latest winemaking technology.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1995
- Area under vine: 600 hectares
- Sub-zones: Pla de Bages, Alt Bages
- Altitude: 200-500 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Picapoll, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer. Others: Sauvignon Blanc
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Others: Malbec and Pinot Noir
- Climate: Inland Mediterranean. Average annual rainfall 500-600mm
- Maximum crop: 9,000 kg/ha reds, 10,000 kg/ha whites
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 12 months bottle; Reserva 12 months oak, 12 months bottle; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle
- Number of producers: 11
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005 and 2006 very good; 2007 very good to excellent.
- Website: www.dopladebages.com


DOCa PRIORAT

Located in the province of Tarragona and protected by the Sierra de Montsant mountain, Priorat is one of Spain’s most acclaimed DO regions. It has the superior status of DOQ (DOCa) along with Rioja.

Priorat shot to fame (and fortune) in the 1990s after a group of winemakers teamed up to make red wine around the remote high-lying village of Gratallops from low-yielding Garnacha and Cariñena and other quality-orientated grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon. They were also attracted by the schist and slate soils (the most common is known as llicorella which is formed of layers of slate and quartzite) which impart minerality, retain adequate water during the ripening period and allow the roots of vines to penetrate deep below the surface.

A style of wine appeared which was quite unlike the rustic local wines at the time. Yet thanks to local grape varieties, soils and altitude it wasn’t like any other Spanish wine either. At their best Priorat wines show incredible concentration and merit bottle ageing to reach their peak.

More commercial wines from the region, both reds and rosés, often contain some Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot. Some white wines are also made in Priorat and their distinctive local character makes them well worth seeking out.

Many investors have become involved here recognising the potential of old vines which cling to the steep terraces typical of this particularly scenic region. Priorat is a classic case of blending the traditional with the modern and achieving huge success by doing so.

Recent developments: In 2009 the classification ‘Vino de la Villa’ (Vi de la Vila in Catalan) was introduced with the aim of identifying wines with their area of origin and indicating this on wine labels. The classification applies to eight villages : Vila de Bellmunt, Vila d’Escaladei, Vila de Gratallops, Vila de El Lloar, Vila de La Morera de Montsant, Vila de Pobleda, Vila de Porrera, Vila de La Vilella Alta, Vila de La Vilella Baixa, Masos del Terme de Falset and Solanes del Terme de El Molar.
       
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1954; upgraded to DOQ (the Catalan equivalent of DOCa) in 2000
- Area under vine: 1,925 hectares
- Altitude: 100-750 metres
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha Tinta and Cariñena. Others: Garnacha Peluda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Picapoll Negro, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir
- Principal white grapes: Garnacha Blanca, Pedro Ximénez and Macabeo. Others: Viognier, Picapoll Blanco, Xarello, Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel de grano menudo, Pansal and Chenin Blanc
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 38-40˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 500 mm
- Maximum crop: 6,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – minimum 6 months in oak and 12 months in bottle; Reserva – minimum 12 months in oak and 24 months in bottle; Gran Reserva - 24 months in oak and 48 months in bottle
- Number of producers: 90
- Recent vintages overview: 2001 excellent; 2002 good; 2003 very good; 2004 and 2005 excellent; 2006 very good; 2007 - 2008 - all very good.   
- Website: www.doqpriorat.org


DO RIBEIRA SACRA

Ribeira Sacra lies at the heart of Galicia and this DO is often described the region’s most scenic. The landscape is a combination of rivers – the Miño and the Sil rivers meet here – and lush green hillsides featuring spectacular terraced vineyards. Tending the vines on these terraces is back-breaking work but the rewards can increasingly be seen in the wines emerging from the area.

Located some distance from the busier towns of the coast, the area is particularly tranquil. You might just hear the sound of distant a distant gaita (bagpipe) to remind you that you are in Celtic Spain.

In contrast to the other DOs of Galicia, Ribeira Sacra’s focus is on red wine from the Mencía grape which can give excellent results in this climate which is warmer than the Rías Baixas but still cool compared to most Spanish wine regions.

Ribeira Sacra’s whites are generally made from Albariño or Godello which have benefited (along with the reds) from the introduction of stainless steel tanks to extract their fruit characters and freshness.

Over the last decade the number of growers and producers has increased dramatically along with the region’s production. So expect to see more wines from this region in the UK in the coming years.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1996
- Area under vine: 1,222 hectares
- Subzones: Amanda, Chantada, Quiroga-Bibei, Ribeiras do Miño, Ribeiras do Sil
- Altitude: 350 metres
- Principal red grapes: Mencía
- Principal white grapes: Godello, Albariño and Treixadura
- Climate: Valle del Miño average temperature 14ºC, rainfall 900mm; Valle del Sil 13ºC and 700mm annual rainfall.
- Maximum crop: 62 hl/ha for Albariño and Godello, 77 hl/ha for all other grapes.
- Number of wineries: 100
- Recent vintages overview: 2005 and 2006 excellent; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.ribeirasacra.org


DO RIBEIRO

Ribeiro, situated in the south of Galicia and to the east of the Rías Baixas DO, features a warmer climate than its coastal neighbour and not as much rain. Its vineyards are situated to the north and south of the main river, the picturesque Miño. Ribadavia, crowned by the 14th century Gothic Santo Domingo church, is the main town and well worth a visit.

Most of the vineyards are planted on terraces along the river valleys and the vines are increasingly trained on modern trellis systems rather than on the traditional Galician-style pergola.

White wines dominate in Ribeiro and the fruity, aromatic Treixadura is the main grape often with a touch of Albariño, Godello, Torrontés or Loureira to enhance blends. The wines often reach 13˚C, but they have good balancing acidity and structure making them an ideal match for food. Galicia is famous for its wide variety of sea and river fish and there is much more to discover besides. Local specialities include meat or fish empanadas (large flat pasties made with olive oil), pan de maíz (maize bread), the creamy white tetilla cheese and the local green pimientos de Padrón.

Ribeiro has been slow to emerge in the international market, however in recent years the pace has quickened in terms of quality enhancement and experimentation – red varieties such as Tempranillo and Mencía have appeared in some vineyards. The prices of Ribeiro wines tend to be more reasonable than those of other local DOs making this a region which is well worth considering.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1957
- Area under vine: 3,000 hectares
- Altitude: 75–400 metres
- Principal white grapes: Treixadura, Albariño, Godello, Torrontés and Loureira
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 38˚C, minimum winter temperature -4˚C, 950mm annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 13,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: N/A
- Number of wineries: 100
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 excellent; 2004 very good; 2005 very good; 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.do-ribeiro.com


DO RIBERA DEL DUERO

The DO of Ribera del Duero is credited with a great deal. This was the first region to unleash the red winemaking potential of the Duero Valley, ahead of Toro and significantly it has grown to rival Rioja in terms of prestige and reputation providing welcome diversity at the top end of the Spanish wine spectrum.

Ribera del Duero’s success is firmly based on Tempranillo (also known locally as Tinto Fino or Tinta del País). The variety is used almost exclusively by producers to make reds with various ageing credentials and rosés but oak aged wines of a high calibre and capable of many years of ageing are the main focus in the region.

Ribera del Duero’s vineyards are situated to the north and south of the River Duero which runs from east to west though its middle. The focal point of wine activity is the town of Aranda de Duero where most of the vineyards are located. Another key town is Peñafiel which features a castle where a wine museum can be found.

Since the late 80s there has been significant replanting in the region and there is now a modern and very professional approach to vineyard management and harvesting. This is vital to achieve quality in view of the viticultural challenges caused by spring frost, hail and autumn rains.

The high altitude of the vineyards is a significant factor where quality is concerned; most are located at 750-800 metres above sea level. This means that there is wide variation in temperature especially during the summer; it is not unusual to reach 35˚C during the day and as low as 12˚C at night during August which encourages the vines to rest and favours grapes with lively acidity and concentration.

Substantial investment in upgrading or completely new bodegas has also taken place at a fast pace since the DO was established. Gravity flow is a common feature to ensure careful handling of the must and the highest possible quality. Winemakers use a combination of American, French and other European oak barrels.

Don’t expect Ribera del Duero wines to come cheap but prices are slightly more reasonable than they were.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1982
- Area under vine: 20,042 hectares
- Altitude: 750-850 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo (Tinto Fino or Tinta del País). Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Garnacha Tinta
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -20˚C, average annual rainfall 400-600mm
- Maximum crop: 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – two years minimum ageing including 12 months in oak; Reserva – 3 years minimum including 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – 5 years minimum including 24 months in oak.
- Number of wineries: 266
- Recent vintages overview: 1999 excellent; 2000 very good; 2001 excellent; 2002 very good; 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005 very good; 2006 good; 2007 and 2008 very good; 2009 excellent
- Website: www.riberadelduero.es


DO RIBERA DEL GUADIANA

Ribera del Guadiana is located in south west Spain and borders Portugal. It unites six sub-zones in the region of Extremadura as detailed below (the Extremadura name hasn’t been adopted for the DO as a region called Estremadura exists in the west of Portugal). Tierra de Barros is the largest of the sub-regions and it is also setting the pace in terms of development.

The grape mix here is intriguing and reflects the region’s location. Tempranillo dominates but there are no less than 29 varieties listed by the DO’s Consejo Regulador including local, Portuguese and Andalusian varieties. More adventurous winemakers, both local and outsiders, are starting to tap into this rich resource and their wines are starting to appear in the UK. They are well worth looking out for, especially reds, though interesting work is being done with local white grapes Cayetana, Pardina and Eva.

Other essential ingredients are also in place. The vines receive good sun exposure over the ripening period and the region’s clay and limestone soils are particularly fertile due to the influence of the River Guadiana which flows through the region. This major water source, along with its tributaries, allows all kinds of agriculture to thrive alongside the vineyards including cereals, olives, cotton and cork.

So how can Ribera del Guadiana's wines take some of the limelight? One way is to associate the wines with fine local specialities. Extremadura is currently better known for food than for wine as the region is home to some famous Spanish delicacies, namely pata negra ham - the king of Spanish ‘jamón’, and the highly prized soft torta del casar cheese. A few local tapas are enough to win anyone over to the wines made here.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1999
- Area under vine: 27,844 hectares
- Sub-zones: Tierra de Barros, Montánchez, Ribera Alta, Ribera Baja, Matanegra and Cañamero
- Altitude: 209-1,087 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo. Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Tintorera, Bobal, Graciano, Mazuelo (Cariñena), Monastrell, Syrah, Jaén Tinto and Pinot Noir
- Principal white grapes: Pardina and Cayetana Blanca. Viura, Verdejo, Chardonnay. Others: Alarije, Borba, Eva, Malvar, Parellada, Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature 5˚C, average annual rainfall 400-500mm
- Maximum crop: red 8,000 kg/ha, white 10,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Roble 3-4 months oak, Crianza 6 months oak, Reserva 12 months oak, Gran Reserva 24 months oak
- Number of producers: 74 (50 bottlers)
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 good; 2005 very good; 2006 good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.riberadelguadiana.eu


DO RIBERA DEL JÚCAR

Ribera del Júcar went solo in 2003 after breaking away from La Mancha making it one of Spain’s youngest DOs.

The region is located to the south east of the province of Cuenca and it unites seven villages. As in the case of Manchuela, to the east, the climate here is a mixture of continental and Mediterranean influences. Temperatures are a bit lower and rainfall is a bit higher compared to La Mancha and grape yields are lower too which bodes well for quality. As a result the wines, made mostly from Tempranillo, can show a surprising perfume and elegance.

An important geographical feature is the River Júcar which flows through the east of the region on its journey towards the Mediterranean. Indeed the region is rich in terms of agriculture – cereal crops and orchards are common sights along with vineyards and a number of producers offer olive oil as well as wine.

Exports have grown significantly since 2003 as more buyers have uncovered Ribera del Júcar as a source of great value for money. See also: DO Manchuela

Regional facts:
- DO: established 2003
- Area under vine: 9,141 hectares
- Altitude: 750 metres
- Principal red grapes: Cencibel (Tempranillo). Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Bobal, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot
- Principal white grapes: Moscatel and Sauvignon Blanc
- Climate: average summer temperature 24˚C, average winter temperature 5.1˚C, average annual rainfall 497mm
- Maximum crop: 10,000 kg/ha for trellised vines; 9,000 kg/ha for bush vines
- Ageing: Crianza – 24 months including 6 months oak ageing
- Number of producers: 9, six co-operatives and three privately owned bodegas
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 good; 2005, 2006 and 2007 very good.
- Website: www.vinosriberadeljucar.com


DO RÍAS BAIXAS

The Atlantic Ocean, pine forests lining hills that overlook fjord-like inlets, vines trained on pergolas and light, fresh, aromatic wines to complement the finest array of seafood. Welcome to Galicia, green Spain and the home of the country’s most sought-after quality wine: Albariño from the DO of coastal Rías Baixas.

This DO is still barely out of its teens, yet no upmarket restaurateur in Madrid would exclude an Albariño from its list, especially if a range of fish is offered. The local markets of Galicia feature a vast choice including highly prized percebes (goose barnacles), octopus, oysters, prawns, every variety of squid, bream and sea bass which go perfectly with Albariño wines.

Thanks to a leap in quality and the benefits of modern winemaking techniques, Albariño has captured the imagination both at home and abroad and vineyards have been expanding in recent years to keep pace with demand for the wines.

Albariño wines do not come cheap for various reasons. The region’s producers, known as adegas, tend to be small and only bottled wines are permitted according to DO regulations to encourage producers to focus on quality. The size of the vintage can also vary quite dramatically from year to year due to the damp climate here – note that the average rainfall in this Celtic corner of Spain is far higher than most other Spanish regions and indeed most parts of the UK.

But the climate does present a major advantage: getting the desired level of acidity for these crisp white wines is rarely a problem for producers in the Rías Baixas.

Most Albariños from the Rías Baixas are unoaked and made to be enjoyed within a year of their vintage, so look out for recent vintages as a rule. However, some Albariño wines have the capacity to age; they develop a tangy, minerally character and are well worth seeking out. (See also DO Ribeiro).
   
Regional facts:
- DO: established 1988
- Area under vine: 3,814 hectares
- Subzones: Val do Salnés, O Rosal, Condado do Tea, Soutomaior and Ribeira do Ulla
- Altitude: 100-300 metres
- Principal white grapes: Albariño (95% of plantings). Others: Loureira Blanca, Treixadura, Caiño Blanca, Torrontés and Godello
- Principal red grapes (generally of local interest only): Caiño Tinto, Espadeiro, Loureira Tinta, Sousón, Brancellao and Pedral
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 25˚C, minimum winter temperature 5˚C, average rainfall 1,600-1,800 mm
- Maximum crop: 11,000 kg/ha for Albariño
- Number of wineries: 198
- Recent vintages overview: 2004-2007 excellent; 2008 good; 2009 very good
- Website: www.doriasbaixas.com


DOCa RIOJA

Rioja, the best known of the Spanish wine regions, carefully preserves its wine styles but there are some modern trends which are interesting to observe.

Located partly within the Basque country, Rioja is best known for red wines and the Tempranillo grape. The versatile nature of this variety means that the region’s red wines cover variety of styles from young easy-drinking wines through to more sophisticated styles capable of many years of cellaring. Some producers also offer white wines*, including some fine barrel-fermented and oak-aged styles, and rosés.

Most Rioja wines are aged according to strict ageing specifications and not released until they are considered to be ready to be enjoyed which is makes this region rather unique in the wine world. The various ageing categories – Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva – are indicated on the back label. Other grapes in the blend may also be indicated: Tempranillo is supported by Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo depending on the producer. This gives Rioja wines their distinctive style, especially in barrel aged wines.

Not all Rioja wines follow the traditional age classifications. Indeed some modern styles place more focus on a specific vineyard or ‘pago’ reflecting the strong interest among producers to offer wines with distinctive local character.

Rioja’s first bodegas date back to 1870-1890 when French merchants from Bordeaux came to source wine from the region. Throughout the 20th Century, Rioja expanded and established its reputation at home and abroad.

More recently there have been exciting developments with some distinctly modern architecture appearing on the landscape (and many metres under ground for new cellars). The works of famous architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry now rub shoulders with historic cellars making Rioja a great place to visit for wine, food and spectacular local scenery set against the rocky Sierra Cantabria mountains.

Rioja’s wine routes guide visitors through the delightful towns which make up the Rioja heartland including Haro, Labastida, Cenicero and Elciego where you can stop at the bodegas for tours and tastings.

*In 2007 Rioja’s Consejo Regulador incorporated six additional white grape varieties. They include the local varieties Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Turruntés and three grapes not native to Rioja: Verdejo, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The rare red variety Maturana Tinta, rediscovered through research, was also approved by the authorities. Wines featuring these varieties will gradually be seen as plantings come on stream over the coming years.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 1925 as a DO, upgraded to DOCa in 1991
- Area under vine: 62,143 hectares
- Sub-zones: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta and Rioja Baja
- Altitude: 300-700 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo (approximately 80% of all varieties planted), Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo. Other authorised red varieties: Maturana Tinta
- Principal white grapes: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca. Other authorised white varieties: Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Turruntés, Chardonnay, - Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -4˚C, average annual rainfall 300-500mm
- Maximum crop: 6,500 kg/ha red, 9,000 kg/ha white
- Ageing for red wines: Crianza – minimum two years total ageing with at least 12 months in oak; Reserva – minimum three years total ageing at least 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – minimum five years total ageing with at least 24 months in oak
- Number of wineries: 1,410
- Recent vintages overview: 2001 excellent, 2002 good; 2003 good; 2004 excellent; 2005 excellent; 2006-2009 very good; 2010 and 2011 excellent.
- Website: www.riojawine.com


DO RUEDA

Rueda, which is located in the heart of Castilla y León to the north west of Madrid, emerged as a welcome addition to Spain’s quality white wines when DO status was granted in 1980. The region’s producers had demonstrated that the cooler climate here coupled with modern winemaking technology which avoided oxidation could result in fresh, fruity white wines based on Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc and Viura.

Although Sauvignon Blanc has proved to be successful in the region, plantings of Verdejo have increased significantly over recent years giving the region a point of difference in its wines. One of Spain’s classic white grapes, the more structured Verdejo has floral, lemon and white peach characters and, in the hands of a talented producer, wines made from the variety can age very gracefully.

However, Rueda’s white wines are more typically youthful, unoaked and often presented with a screw cap closure reflecting the modern approach to winemaking in this region. They generally start to appear on the market by the spring following the vintage ready to be enjoyed over the warmer months of the year. They can be a blend of all three grapes or made from one grape (Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc).

In 2001, the DO regulations incorporated red wines but volumes remain relatively small and are not (as yet) significant in export sales. The reverse scenario is the case for Rueda’s neighbour, Toro, the adjoining DO to the west.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1980
- Area under vine: 11,740 hectares (mostly Verdejo)
- Altitude: 700-800 metres
- Principal white grapes: Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, Viura and Polomino
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha
- Climate: 38˚C maximum summer temperature, -10˚C minimum winter temperature, 350mm annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc (bush vines) 8,000 kg/ha, Viura and Palomino: 10,000 kg/ha, all white trained vines: 10,000 kg/ha except Viura: 12,000kg/ha. All reds 7,000 kg/ha.
- Ageing: Most of Rueda’s wines are not aged or only partially aged. Most wineries now make a barrel fermented wine in addition to their core offering.
- Number of wineries: 58
- Recent vintages overview: 2003-2009 - very good
- Website: www.dorueda.com


DO SOMONTANO

Somontano, meaning ‘below the mountains’, is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees to the west of Catalonia. It is one of the four DOs within the autonomous region of Aragón along with Calatayud, Campo de Borja and Cariñena but it shares little in common with them or indeed any other Spanish region.

This youthful and dynamic DO is based largely on private enterprise and its architects have opted wholeheartedly for a modern approach. This can be seen in the design of wine labels through to the state-of-the-art wineries and well tended vineyards.

International grape varieties play a major role here and if you taste a wine based on Cabernet Sauvignon or one of the Gewürztraminers which have recently emerged from the bodegas, you will appreciate why – these grapes are well suited to Somontano’s soils and climate. Not to be overlooked, some producers also make impressive wines from Garnacha, especially from more mature vines, and Syrah, a recent arrival, is looking very promising here as well.

If you’re visiting the region, drop in at the Consejo Regulador at Barbastro for a spectacular overview of the region and its wines in the impressive circular video room and taste a few wines with regional tapas at the in-house restaurant. The building is conveniently located alongside the tourist office and this is no coincidence as the two organisations have worked closely to establish a wine route in recent years.

The wine route connects the various bodegas and local aspects of interest including the medieval village and fortress of Alquézar. It winds its way through delightful Mediterranean scenery featuring olive groves, almond trees and rivers with no mass urban developments in sight.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1984
- Area under vine: 4,675 hectares
- Altitude: 350-650 metres
- Principal white grapes: Chardonnay, Macabeo, Gewürztraminer, Alcañon and Garnacha Blanca. Others: Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling
- Principal red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tempranillo, Moristel, Syrah, Garnacha Tinta, Pinot Noir and Parraleta
- Climate: 40˚C maximum summer temperature, -10˚C minimum winter temperature, 500 mm average annual rainfall
- Maximum crop: 8,000kg/ha (red); 9,000 kg/ha (white)
- Ageing: White wines: Roble – 45 days minimum in oak. Crianza – at least 18 months total ageing with a minimum of 6 months in oak.
- Red wines: Roble – 90 days minimum in oak. Noble – at least 18 months oak and bottle ageing in total. Crianza – at least 24 months oak and bottle age in total including at least 6 months in oak. Reserva – at least 36 months oak and bottle age in total. Gran Reserva – at least 60 months oak and bottle age in total.
- Number of wineries: 34
- Recent vintages overview: 2008 and 2009 - very good
- Website: www.dosomontano.com


DO TARRAGONA

DO Tarragona is split into two areas: the more Mediterranean Camp de Tarragona is situated around the town of Tarragona while Ribera d’Ebre, which lies between Priorato and Terra Alta, is higher, drier, hotter in the summer and colder in winter.

Historically this area was a source of sweet wines and today a variety of dessert wines can still be found ranging from lighter styles such as Moscatel de Tarragona to more structured, aged styles made from Garnacha which has been left to ripen on the vine after the main harvest. White wine dominates production, indeed a significant proportion of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo is destined for Cava production each year.

However, modern wine styles generally with a reasonable price tag have become far more important in recent years. Garnacha is often used for fruit-driven rosé styles and both Garnacha and Cariñena are used in red blends along with other Spanish and international grape varieties. In fact the wide variety of grapes means that the wines here are ideal candidates for the regional DO Catalunya status as well.

A significant modification to note is the change of 2001 when the area of Falset ceased to be part of DO Tarragona and became DO Montsant (see corresponding DO).

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1947
- Area under vine: 7,280 hectares
- Subzones: Camp de Tarragona and Ribera d’Ebre
- Altitude: 40-450 metres
- Principal white grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Chardonnay, Moscatel varieties (Muscat d’Alexandrie and de Frontignan).
- Principal red grapes: Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cariñena, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature 3˚C. Average annual rainfall: Camp de Tarragona 500mm, Ribera d’Ebre 385mm
- Maximum crop: Camp: white 10,000 kg/ha, red 8,500 kg/ha; elsewhere 7,500 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak, 12 months bottle; Reserva 12 months oak, 24 months bottle; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 months bottle.
- Number of producers: 45
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 good; 2005, 2006 and 2007 very good.
- Website: www.dotarragona.cat/en


DO TERRA ALTA

Terra Alta is located in the west of the province of Tarragona and it is the most southern of the DOs of Catalonia. The vineyards are situated on rolling hills which move inland from the Mediterranean coast towards areas that typically experience hot summers and a more continental climate.

The focal point of the DO is the town of Gandesa where some of the co-operatives date back to the 1920s. One of them features the spectacular art deco design of César Martinell, a student of Antonio Gaudí.

Terra Alta is also home to smaller producers who are showing an interest in producing modern wine styles, indeed there is potential to make good quality reds here in the higher vineyards. There is also a trend to produce more Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at the expense of some Garnacha Blanca which bodes well for the future of the DO.

The producers of Terra Alta supply base wines for Cava and they can also take advantage of the cross-regional DO Cataluña.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1985
- Area under vine: 8,200 hectares
- Altitude: 350-500 metres
- Principal white grapes: Garnacha Blanca and Macabeo. Others: Moscatel (Muscat d’Alexandrie), Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc
- Principal red grapes: Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda and Cariñena. Others: Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 35˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C , average annual rainfall 400mm
- Maximum crop: 8,000 kg/ha reds, 10,000 kg/ha whites
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak; Reserva 6 months oak for whites, 12 months oak for reds; Gran Reserva 24 months oak
- Number of producers: 46
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 very good; 2005 good; 2006 very good; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.doterraalta.com


DO TIERRA DE LEÓN

Tierra de León is one of the youngest of the DOs of Castilla y León. The DO is located to the south of the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range and in the southern part of the province of León. Two rivers meet here – the Esla and the Cea - as they make their way south to the Duero.

Winemaking has a long heritage in the region. It became significant in the 10th century when the monasteries were established and they developed vineyards to meet local demand from pilgrims passing through on El Camino de Santiago.

Moving to far more recent significant events, in the mid 1980s a group of producers made the first moves towards gaining quality recognition for the region and they decided to champion the local red grape Prieto Pecudo as the most interesting aspect of the wines that are made here.

Prieto Pecudo, along with other quality red varieties, thrives in the continental climate of this high lying region. An average of 2,700 hours of annual sunshine favours uniform ripeness across the DO and rainfall is generally evenly distributed over the growing period so irrigation is not usually required.

One of Spain’s most interesting indigenous varieties, Prieto Pecudo has small compact bunches and it is particularly resistant to drought. The grape is aromatic with fleshy bright fruit and good acidity making it suitable for young and aged reds as well as rosés. Prieto Pecudo is often partnered with Mencía in blends, indeed the DO’s winemaking regulations stipulate that rosé and red wines must contain 60% of Prieto Pecudo or Mencía.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 2007
- Area under vine: 1,465 hectares
- Altitude: 850-950 metres
- Principal red grapes: Prieto Picudo (around 50% of plantings), Mencía, Tempranillo and Garnacha Tinta
- Principal white grapes: Verdejo, Albarín Blanco, Godello, Malvasía and Palomino
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 20˚C+, minimum winter temperature -15˚C, average annual rainfall 500 mm
- Maximum crop: Red varieties 6,000kg/ha for bush vines, 8,000kg/ha for trellised vines; white varieties – 7,000kg/ha for bush vines, 10kg/ha for trellised vines
- Ageing: Crianza - 2 years minimum ageing including 6 months in oak; Reserva – 3 years minimum ageing including 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – 60 months minimum ageing including 18 months in oak. French, American and central European oaks are used.
- Number of producers: 33
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 very good; 2004 excellent; 2005-2007 very good.
- Website: www.dotierradeleon.es


DO TIERRA DEL VINO DE ZAMORA   

Tierra del Vino, “the land of wine”, extends over the province of Zamora and a section of the province of Salamanca to the west and south of DO Toro. The vineyards lie on both banks of the River Duero as it follows its course through Zamora.

The climate of the region is typically dry continental with very cold winters and hot summers. Tierra del Vino is crossed by many rivers resulting in an alluvial, clay-based soil. The topsoil tends to be sandy on the plains while gravel can be found on the hillsides and small pebbles and stones in the highest vineyards.

The vines are generally untrained and the average age of the vines here is around 61 years old. More recently planted vineyards are trellised with the modern training systems now accounting for about 20% of total vineyards.

Wines produced include whites, two kinds of rosés – rosado and the darker clarete style - and red wines with a range of ageing credentials.
           
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 2007
- Area under vine: 800 hectares
- Altitude: 750 metres (average)
- Principal red grapes: Tempranillo (main grape), Garnacha Tinta and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Principal white grapes: Malvasía, Moscatel de grano menudo, Verdejo, Albillo, Palomino and Godello
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 23˚C, winter temperatures not exceeding 3˚C, average annual rainfall 450 mm
- Maximum crop: red varieties – 7,000 kg/ha; white varieties – 10,000kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – 2 years minimum ageing including 6 months in oak; Reserva – 3 years minimum ageing including 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva 60 months ageing including 18 months in oak.
- Number of producers: 8
- Website: www.tierradelvino.net 


DO TORO

Toro, the furthest west of the DOs of the Duero Valley, has made great strides over the last 20 years based on the success of the powerful and expressive Tinta de Toro grape, a local take on Tempranillo.

The DO is named after the town of Toro, which is situated above the banks of the Río Duero. It features some spectacular medieval architecture including the 12th century Colegiata de Santa María, one of Spain’s most impressive Romanesque monuments.

A new quality-orientated era started in the 90s when a few local producers set about making Toro’s wines known. In 1998 there were eight bodegas here, now there are at least 50.

These days the Toro style is both distinctive and more refined. This is due to a combination of key factors.

Firstly the region has kept significant amounts of old vines – vines over 50 years old are common in the region - and the traditional bush vine system of cultivation is still widely seen. Secondly the altitude of the vineyards means that temperatures are significantly cooler at night in the summer favouring aroma development and colour. Tinta de Toro also tends to ripen around two weeks earlier than the Tempranillo of Rioja producing thicker skins and generally slightly higher alcohol levels. Finally modern winemaking techniques have had an impact on quality and shaped the modern Toro wine style.

Producers offer a range of styles from young reds through to Crianzas and Reservas. An aged Toro wine is no shrinking violet and food with a similarly strong profile is recommended especially meat – roast lamb, game and a wide range of beef and pork salamis can be enjoyed locally.

The other red grape of significance here is Garnacha which is sometimes found in blends, especially rosés. Small amounts of white wine are made from Malvasía and Verdejo.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1987
- Area under vine: 5,836 hectares
- Altitude: 650-825 metres
- Principal red grapes: Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). Others: Garnacha Tinta
- Principal white grapes: Malvasía and Verdejo
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -10˚C, average annual rainfall 300-400 mm
- Maximum crop: 6,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – two years minimum ageing including six months in oak; Reserva – three years minimum ageing including 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – five years minimum ageing including 24 months in oak.
- Number of wineries: 50
- Recent vintages overview: 2003-2005 excellent; 2006 and 2007 very good; 2008 excellent; 2009 excellent
- Website: www.dotoro.es


DO UCLÉS

The vineyards of DO Uclés are located in the west of the province of Cuenca and the north east of the province of Toledo with the Sierra de Altomira mountain range running through the centre of the region. Indeed altitude plays a major role here – the vineyards are located significantly higher above sea level than other areas of La Mancha resulting in less extreme summer temperatures and fresher conditions for vine growing.

Tempranillo, known here as Cencibel, is the most important variety and bush vines are the most common form of viticulture for the grape. Varieties which have been introduced more recently such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are more likely to feature modern trellis systems.

Red wines range from young, fruity styles with no or short oak ageing to Crianzas and Reservas and producers increasingly offer rosés and whites as well.

Regional facts:
- DO: established 2005
- Area under vine: 1,700 metres
- Altitude: 500-1,200 metres
- Principal red grapes: Cencibel (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Garnacha
- Principal white grapes: Verdejo, Chardonnay, Moscatel (de grano menudo), Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 19.6˚C, minimum winter temperature 4.2˚C, average annual rainfall 500mm
- Maximum crop for red varieties: Vines over 40 years old – 5,000kg/ha for bush vines and 8,000kg/ha for trellised vines; vines over 15 years old – 6,5000kg/ha for bush vines and 9,500kg/ha for trellised vines; over 6 years old – 8,000kg/ha for bush vines and 11,000kg/ha for trellised vines.
- White varieties – 8,000kg/ha for bush vines and 11,00kg/ha for trellised vines.
- Ageing: Crianza – 2 years total ageing including 6 months in oak; Reserva 3 years total ageing including 12 months in oak.
- Number of producers: 8
- Recent vintages overview: 2007 excellent.
- Website: www.vinosdeucles.com


DO UTIEL-REQUENA

Utiel-Requena, taking its name from two local towns, is situated inland from the city of Valencia. The climate here is extreme, with some of the highest temperatures of mainland Spain, so appropriately red wine is the main focus.

One red grape in particular – Bobal – is grown here. Traditionally it has made concentrated wines which have been ideal for a business based on bulk wine and blending. The doble pasta method, whereby crushed grapes are fermented over additional grape skins and pulp, has ensured a very high extract, colour and tannin.

However, a new generation of producers is changing the way of working with Bobal. Greater attention in the vineyard and modern winemaking technology are combining to offer styles with tamer tannins which range from young wines, sometimes made with carbonic maceration, to barrel aged wines where Bobal is often supported by Tempranillo. Accordingly there has been a gradual shift from bulk wines to bottled production.

Utiel-Requena’s producers are also well placed to capitalise on the strong demand for rosé wines: Bobal, again often accompanied by Tempranillo, makes rosé wines with good acidity and freshness.

You may see the term Vino de Heredad (estate wine) on the labels of wines from Utiel-Requena. The description was introduced by the Consejo Regulador in 2001 to encourage producers to focus on their best vineyard sites and to aim for higher quality.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1957
- Area under vine: 41,000 hectares
- Altitude: 600-900 metres
- Principal red grapes: Bobal, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah (recently authorised)
- Principal white grapes: Tardana, Macabeo (Viura), Merseguera, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -10˚C, average annual rainfall 430mm.
- Maximum crop: Reds: 7,500 kg/ha for bush vines and 9,100 kg/ha for trained vines. Whites: 8,000 kg/ha for bush vines and 9,700 for trained vines
- Ageing: Crianza 6 months oak; Reserva 12 months oak minimum, 36 months total ageing; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 60 months total ageing
- Number of producers: 110
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 good; 2005 and 2006 excellent; 2007 very good (permitted yields for white varieties were increased by 15% in view of the favourable weather conditions).
- Website: www.utielrequena.org

DO VALDEORRAS

The DO of Valdeorras is situated at the gateway to Galicia in the east of the region. It is made up of three towns: A Rúa, Villamartín and O Barco. The River Sil, which flows from east to west through the DO, is the dominant feature on the landscape. Valdeorras is situated around 150km from the coast and the climate is the most continental of all the DOs of Galicia.

In recent years there has been a lot of excitement surrounding the white Godello grape which has been rediscovered as a variety of great personality and positioned as the region’s star performer. Godello is now to Valdeorras what Albariño is to the Rías Baixas.

Wines made from Godello are generally medium-bodied and therefore more structured than those made from Albariño making them very food friendly. They offer plenty of lemony fruit, a fresh mineral character thanks to the region’s slate soils and great persistence. Godello wines are usually unoaked and youthful but some producers offer barrel-fermented styles and they are capable of ageing.

There is a red partner for this white variety which is showing good potential here: Mencía, a red grape which is increasingly coming into focus in many of the DOs of north west Spain. In the Valdeorras DO producers generally make a young red from Mencía which is light bodied by Spanish standards. It is sometimes blended with other red varieties such as Garnacha Tintorera or Cabernet Sauvignon.

The term Valdeorras Superior applies to wines with at least 80% of Godello or Mencía, the “recommended varieties” for quality wines in the Valdeorras DO.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1957
- Area under vine: 1,300 hectares
- Altitude: 240-320 metres
- Principal white grape: Godello
- Principal red grape: Mencía
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 44˚C, minimum winter temperature -4˚C, average annual rainfall 925mm
- Maximum crop: 10,000 kg/ha
- Ageing (crianza wines): White wines – 18 months total ageing with at least six months in oak (maximum barrel size 330 litres). Red wines – 24 total ageing with at least 6 months in oak (maximum barrel size 330 litres).
- Number of wineries: 45
- Recent vintages overview: 2007, 2008 and 2009 – all very good
- Website: www.dovaldeorras.com

DO VALDEPEÑAS

Valdepeñas, tucked into the southern part of La Mancha and totally surrounded by its much larger sibling, has operated entirely independently for as long as anyone can remember. Today its bodegas are fully equipped with modern winemaking technology and the focus is on red wines and generally one grape – Tempranillo. For oak aged wines only this variety is permitted though Cabernet and Garnacha can also be found in Valdepeñas.

The red wines of Valdepeñas are surprisingly soft and generously fruity thanks to a couple of key factors: a chalky layer below the surface soil offers good water retention allowing the vines to perform well when summer temperatures peak and the vineyards are located at reasonably high altitude which also favours quality.

Lower volumes and higher quality are the order of the day here. The DO regulations were updated in 2000 and slightly lower yields came into force. Red wines are offered from young wines to Gran Reserva level with a very competitive price/quality ratio compared to the better known Spanish regions further north. You can find rosé wines here as well.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1964
- Area under vine: 25,878 hectares
- Altitude: 650-820 metres
- Principal red grapes: Cencibel (Tempranillo). Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot
- Principal white grapes: Airén. Others: Macabeo (Viura), Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de grano menudo and Verdejo.
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -10˚C, average annual rainfall 200-350mm
- Maximum crop: red: 6,000 kg/ha; white 7,500 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza – 24 months in total with at least six months in oak; Reserva - 36 months in total with at least 12 months in oak; Gran Reserva – 60 months in total with at least 18 months in oak.
- Number of producers: 30
- Recent vintages overview: 2005-2007 very good; 2008 excellent; 2009 very good
- Website: www.dovaldepenas.es

DO VALENCIA

Wine production is one of the main agricultural activities of the province of Valencia along with oranges and rice – the biggest paddy fields of Europe are to be found here. Against this backdrop, the Mediterranean city of Valencia has metamorphosed into a dynamic business centre and an increasing number of tourists are attracted by the charm of the old town and Valencia-born Santiago Calatrava’s avant-garde architecture closer to the port.

The Valencia DO offers a wide choice of wines ranging from dry whites and rosés through to reds and sweet wines – Moscatel de Valencia is arguably one of the best value sweet wines of Europe.

Grapes are sourced from four different areas of the province. Alto Túria lies to the north east and some of the highest vineyards (700-1,100m) are located here. White varieties are well suited to the area, especially Merseguera and Macabeo. Valentino, at around 650m, is situated in the centre of the province. A range of white and red grapes can be found here including Semillon, Chardonnay, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The area of Moscatel is also in the central area and overlaps Valentino. It features hot summer temperatures and cooling sea breezes which favour the Moscatel grapes for Valencia’s sweet wines. Finally, Clariano lies to the south of the province; its coastal vineyards are well suited to white varieties while the vineyards further inland are home to red varieties such as Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

As is the case of the neighbouring DOs of Utiel-Requena and Alicante, the trend in the Valencia DO is towards higher quality bottled wines and blends with some oak ageing. There is certainly value for money to be found here and plenty of choice.

Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1957
- Area under vine: 19,490 hectares (approximately 7,000 hectares for red varieties)
- Altitude: 175-1,100 metres
- Subzones: Alto Túria, Valentino, Moscatel and Clariano
- Principal white grapes: Merseguera, Malvasía, Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel, Planta Fina, Macabeo (Viura) and Chardonnay
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot
- Climate: maximum summer temperature 35-40˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 400mm
- Maximum crop: whites 9.500 kg/ha; reds 8,000 kg/ha
- Ageing: Crianza 3 months oak; Reserva 6 months oak; Gran Reserva 9 months oak
- Number of producers: 76
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 very good; 2005 and 2006 excellent; 2007 very good.
- Website: www.vinovalencia.org

DO YECLA

In the mid 1980s the key producers of Yecla followed the lead of one family-owned company that took the bold step of investing in modern winemaking equipment and changing vineyard practices. Their aim was get Yecla noticed outside Spain.

The move paid off. Long gone are the times of bulk wine production to be replaced by a modern mindset across private enterprises and co-operatives alike. The town of Yecla now lives quite comfortably from two key industries: wine and furniture.

So what can you expect from the wines on offer? Here we are in Monastrell country, the climate is continental and the vineyards are high although not as high as those of Jumilla. The focus is on young wines across the three main styles – white, rosé and red – and a number of winemakers favour carbonic maceration for young reds.

Yecla’s vineyards are not formally split into sub-zones but growers refer to two areas: Yecla Campo Arriba, where the vineyards tend to produce grapes with more concentration and Yecla Campo Abajo. The results from well tended vineyards and low yields are proving to be increasingly impressive for red wines with judicious oak ageing. Yecla is certainly moving in the right direction. See also: DOs of Jumilla, Bullas and Alicante.
   
Regional facts:
- DO: Established 1975
- Area under vine: 6,500 hectares
- Altitude: 400-800 metres
- Principal red grapes: Monastrell. Others: Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Tintorerea, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
- Principal white grapes: Airén, Merseguera, Macabeo (Viura), Malvasía, Chardonnay
- Climate: Maximum summer temperature 40˚C, minimum winter temperature -5˚C, average annual rainfall 300mm
- Maximum crop: 7,000 kg/ha
- Ageing for reds: Crianza 6 months oak, 18 months bottle age; Reserva 12 months oak, 24 bottle age; Gran Reserva 24 months oak, 36 bottle age.
- Number of producers: 11
- Recent vintages overview: 2003 and 2004 very good; 2005, 2006 and 2007 good.
- Website: www.yeclavino.com

CANARY ISLANDS

The Canary Islands, comprising 10 DO regions, are located far closer to Africa than they are to mainland Spain. Most wine lovers are probably unaware of its wines unless they have visited the archipelago, as very little of the wine made is exported due to strong local demand.

However, there have been interesting changes over the last two decades and modern, fruity wines across a range of white, rosé and red styles, which are ideal for enjoying in this sub-tropical climate, are now widely available as well as oak-aged Crianzas. Meanwhile the rich and colourful heritage of vinos de licor, traditional sweet wines of great character, lives on. Indeed the way that these wines are made has hardly changed for centuries.

The DOs of the Canary Islands feature climatic conditions, soils and landscapes that often have little in common with their cousins on the mainland. The vineyards typically lie over a volcanic bedrock and altitude plays a major role: the vineyards are often situated at 500-1,000 metres above sea level or even higher and this allows for greater freshness and acidity in an otherwise humid sub-tropical climate.

One of the most fascinating aspects of winemaking here is the array of grape varieties. Forget well-known international varieties or even the best known Spanish grapes. The main grapes here are Listán Negro and Listán Blanco while other reds include Negramoll, Tintilla, Moscatel Negro, Prieto and Malvasía Rosada and other whites are Gual, Malvasía, Marmajuelo, Albillo, Moscatel and Sabro and there are many more.

Another interesting point to note is that most vines are ungrafted – the vine louse phylloxera has never been a problem here as it has in most of the wine world – and this means that vines can be up to 100 years old. This is another intriguing aspect of the Canaries which makes it well worth a detour to explore the vineyards if you’re visiting one of the islands.

The 10 DOs of the Canaries by island:

Tenerife:

- Tacoronte-Acentejo: 2,423 hectares, approximately 1,730 hectares in production; altitude 200-800 metres. The DO of Tacoronte-Acentejo, named after the towns which make up its name and located in the north of Tenerife, is the largest of the Canaries and it was the first to gain DO status in 1992. In many respects it has also proved to be an act to follow for the other DOs; the 42 bodegas here are generally take a contemporary approach, winemaking equipment is thoroughly modern and quality standards are high. The wines produced are red for the main part and the Listán Negro and Negramoll grapes are generally favoured. www.tacovin.com

- Valle de La Orotava: 974 hectares; altitude 200-800 metres. Situated to the north west of the island, the vineyards of Valle de La Oratava surround the town of the same name as well as Los Realejos and Puerto de la Cruz. Vines can be easily spotted growing up the hillsides and, characteristically, on pergolas. Listán Negro and Listán Blanco are the dominant grapes and the wines are generally light, fruity young wines but don’t overlook sweeter wines from the higher vineyards which can be enriched by botrytised grapes (grapes deliberately left to shrivel on the vine). www.dovalleorotava.com

- Ycoden Daute Isora: 1,350 hectares, altitude 50-1,400 metres. Occupying the western section tip of the island, Ycoden Daute Isora is one of the most dynamic DOs of the island. The focus is on fresh, young white wines and modern technology helps winemakers to get the best out of Listán Blanco grape. The rosés and reds here are equally good. www.ycoden.com

- Abona: 1,567 hectares; altitude 400-1,700 metres. Need to cool down? The vineyards of Abona, to the south of the island, are incredibly steep and high by Spanish standards and cooler temperatures in the high-lying areas even make frost a peril. There is virtually no other threat to vines making organic cultivation possible. Whites, rosés and reds are produced with whites dominating from Listán Blanco and Bastardo. Reds are made from Listán Negro, Malvasía Rosada and Tintilla. www.vinosdeabona.com

- Valle de Güímar: 913 hectares; altitude 200-1,400 metres. Situated on the eastern side of Tenerife, winemaking in the DO of Valle de Güímar is generally small scale but producers have adopted modern methods and quality is on a par with the other DOs of the island. The staple local grapes can be found – Listán Negro, Negamoll and Tintillo for reds and Listán Blanco, Malvasía and Gual for whites. www.vinosvalleguimar.com

Other islands:

- La Palma: 885 hectares; altitude 200-1,200 metres. La Palma has three sub-zones: Fuencaliente-Las Manchas in the south, Hoya de Mazo in the west and Norte de Palma in the north. Whites, rosés and reds are generally available as young wines; the best reds come from Hoyo de Mazo and the best whites from Fuencaliente. There are also dry and fortified vino de licor wines from the Malvasía grape in Fuencaliente and the ancient Spanish varieties of Gual, Bujariego and Sabro can be found on the island. www.malvasiadelapalma.com

- El Hierro: 200 hectares; altitude 125-700 metres The island of Hierro, to the west of the archipelago, is one of the smallest of the DOs and young, fresh white wines are most commonly found here. Listán Negro, Negramoll, Verijadiego and Bremajuelo are grown and classic Moscatel and PX wines are still made as they were in the 17th century. www.elhierro.tv/crdo

- Gran Canaria: The Gran Canaria DO was established in 2000 and is the youngest of the DOs of the Canaries. Vines must be trained on modern-style trellises and there is a range of permitted grapes including Listán Negro, Marmajuelo and Moscatel. The altitude of the vineyards is 50-1,300 metres and the soil types vary from sandy near the coast to volcanic in the higher mountain areas. www.vinosdegrancanaria.es

- La Gomera: La Gomera is a very mountainous island which makes vine growing especially difficult and labour intensive. Vines are trained along trellises en espaldera. There is a range of permitted grape varieties such as red: Listán Negro, Negramoll, Tintilla and for white: Malvasía, Gual, Marmajuelo and Albillo. La Gomera achieved official status in 2003. crdolagomera@9228008001.e.telefonica.es

- Lanzarote: 2,209 hectares; altitude 100-500 metres. Vineyards on the Moon? The landscape of Lanzarote’s vineyards looks like no other. The black ash soils lie over black bedrock and the vine is virtually the only kind of plant that can be cultivated here. A humid local wind is the biggest problem; each vine is protected by a locating it in a hollow surrounded by a cairn. This means that the vines are spread out and although the hectarage indicated above looks high, production is in fact very low. Malvasía is widely planted as well as the usual local grapes the white varieties Burrablanca, Breval and Diego. Wines are produced in all three colours as young styles and the tradition of sweet wines is strong. www.dolanzarote.com

VINOS DE CALIDAD CON INDICACIÓN GOGRÁFICA (VC / QUALITY WINE WITH SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION)

This classification was introduced in 2003 as a stepping stone to higher quality levels. As the name implies, it was created to link wines closely to their geographical origin, using regional grapes and following specific winemaking methods. Producers working under this classification are governed by an órgano de gestión regulatory body. Regions are generally promoted to full DO status after carrying the VC classification for five years.

VC wines are identified on their labels by the phrase Vino de Calidad de... (Quality wine from...) followed by the name of the region where they are produced.
   
There are currently 7 regions with this classification:
   
1: VC Cangas (www.vinotierracangas.com)
2: VC Valles de Benavente (www.vallesdebenavente.org)
3: VC Valtiendas (www.vinosdevaltiendas.com)
4: VC Sierra Salamanca
5: VC Granada (www.dopvinosdegranada.es)
6: VC Lebrija
7: VC Las Islas Canarias

VINO DE PAGO (VP / SINGLE-ESTATE WINE)

This classification was created in 2003 to recognise single estate producers who consider that they have geographical and microclimatic characteristics that distinguish them from the surrounding areas and allow them to produce highly distinctive wines.

Before qualifying for Vino de Pago status, an estate must have produced wines of exceptional quality for at least 10 years. Extensive research into soil types and terroir is also required. Vino de Pago producers use only their own grapes – local or international grapes or a mixture of both - and they generally work with low yields.
   
There are currently 14 single estates with this classification:
   
1: VP Pago de Otazu (www.otazu.com)
2: VP Prado de Irache (www.irache.com)
3: VP Pago de Arínzano (www.arinzano.es)
4: VP Pago Aylés (www.pagoayles.com)
5: VP Pago Calzadilla (www.pagodecalzadilla.com)
6: VP Campo de la Guardia (www.martue.com)
7: VP Dominio de Valdepusa (www.pagosdefamilia.com)
8: VP Dehesa del Carrizal (www.dehesadelcarrizal.com)
9: VP Pago Florentino (www.pagoflorentino.com)
10: VP Casa del Blanco (www.pagocasadelblanco.com)
11: VP Guijoso (www.sanchez-muliterno.com)
12: VP Finca Élez (www.manuelmanzaneque.com)
13: VP El Terrerazo (www.bodegamustiguillo.com)
14: VP Los Balagueses (www.vegalfaro.com)
  

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