Spain

Navarra Wine Region of Spain: History, Wines, & Producers

In December 2008, the Navarra DO will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its first constitution.  Of course, Navarra has been producing wines for much longer than 75 years.  In fact, archaeological finds from the second century B.C. include Roman-era earthenware wine jars.  Perhaps the DO should be celebrating its 2,075th anniversary instead.

Cariñena: Wine and History in the Heart of Aragón

Cariñena's winemaking heritage goes back a long way.  The Romans who built Carae, today's Cariñena, discovered that the local inhabitants mixed wine and mead – a fermented beverage made from honey and water – as early as the third century before Christ.  The Romans continued this winemaking tradition, as they did wherever they settled in western Europe. 

Campo de Borja: Spain's "Empire of Garnacha"

I must admit, I didn't know much about Campo de Borja when I first read about the results of this year's San Francisco International Wine Competition.  I was surprised to learn that Masia de Bielsa's 2007 Garnacha won the "Best Grenache" award – quite an honor for a $12 bottle of wine from a DO with only 17 wineries.

Jumilla: Spain's Comeback Wine Region

The Jumilla DO has turned potential disaster into triumph.  In 1989 – long after most Spanish wine growers had encountered phylloxera, lost nearly everything, and replanted – the insect finally arrived in Jumilla, with predictable results.  As phylloxera spread, grapevines succumbed, and Jumilla's growers had to make some hard choices.

Rhone Valley & Spanish Rhone-style Wines Tasted at the 2008 Hospice du Rhone Events

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

Last month we reported on American Rhone-style wines we tasted at the 16th annual Hospice du Rhone events in Paso Robles, California from May 1 to 3, 2008.  We noted that this event was an opportunity to consider Rhone-style wines from a fresh perspective because, unlike most tasting opportunities, these events included Rhone-style wines from the Rhone Valley itself (51 wineries), elsewhere in France (4 wineries) as well as from Spain (4 wineries), Australia (17 wineries), South Africa (6 wineries), Chile (2 wineries), Argentina (1 winery) and the United States.  While this was a California-dominated event, and while many of the Rhone Valley’s best producers weren’t represented, there was still sufficient European and other entries to make for interesting comparisons and contrasts.

Bierzo: Wine on Spain’s Pilgrim Trail

Wines and mines have been part of Bierzo’s history since Roman times.  After the remains of Saint James were discovered in the ninth century, pilgrims, too, became part of Bierzo’s heritage.  In fact, some locals will tell you that the Mencía grapes grown in Bierzo were first brought to the region by pilgrims headed toward the famous cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where Saint James is buried.  Monks who came to Bierzo from France to serve the pilgrims expanded the area’s vineyards.  The history of Bierzo is tied to its vineyards, mineral resources and monastic tradition.

Cava: Spain’s Sparkling Wine Treasure

Even if you’ve never heard of any other Spanish wine, chances are you’ve heard about cava.  This is due to the huge international presence of cava sparkling wines.  Freixenet and Cordoníu are the two best-known producers of cava and both wineries have done a marvelous job of marketing Spain’s sparkling wines outside of their home country.  In fact, Spain exports more than half of the sparkling wines it produces, according to the Peñin Guide to Spanish Wine 2007.

Rías Baixas: Refreshing Wines From Northwestern Spain

The weather warms. You dust off your gas grill. It’s time to start thinking about wines for summer. Albariño wines from Rías Baixas are a perfect choice.

Wine writer Hugh Johnson calls Rías Baixas Galicia’s best DO. Recently, the DO launched a U.S. marketing campaign. Chances are you’ll see some Rías Baixas wines at your local wine shop, with notes about their refreshing taste and good value.

Vinos de Madrid: Wine Tradition in Spain’s Capital

Madrid is not only the capital of Spain but also one of Europe’s great cultural centers. Tourists flock to Madrid to see its museums and plazas and to enjoy Spain’s famous tapas. Many visitors don’t realize that Madrid has a wine region all its own, the Vinos de Madrid Denomination of Origin (DO).

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