Category Archives: Wine Guides

Within this section of our website we hope to offer some informative and insightful guides into the fascinating topic that is ‘Wine’.

They are placed here merely to serve as an additional aspect of our service and we hope that in some way they might add to your body of knowledge in this fascinating industry.

Organic Wines

Organic WinesCertified organic (CO) and practicing organic (PO) wine is produced from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming, which typically excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

The process is audited by the recognised body in the wine producing country of origin, according to strict regulations and viticultural practices which allows the term ‘organic wine’ to be used on the wine label. In essence the concept is a return to old-fashioned, less intensive agricultural practices; however, it is only since the 2012 vintage that there has been a definition of ‘organic’ wine within the EU.

In organic wine production the vines are cultivated in vineyards where the environment is respected and biodiversity is encouraged. The use of artificial pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers is strictly prohibited; though certain fertilisers (typically derived from animal or vegetable matter) are allowed.

By adopting an organic approach to viticulture the vines are encouraged to draw essential minerals from the soil and so develop a better resistance to disease negating the need to use artificial interventions. Weed control is carried out by ploughing (horse’s are frequently used in this process) or by growing cover crops. The cover crops act in turn as hosts for beneficial natural predators (ladybirds for example) and provide an ecological form of pest control.

The process of converting a vineyard to certified organic takes three years. Any non-organic treatments are strictly forbidden and the growers can be inspected at anytime without warning. The use of any synthetic and chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides would mean the estate would have to begin the whole process again. Certification of organic wine is run by the relevant country’s examining bodies. In France for example certification is provided by ‘Ecocert’.

In addition to organic practices in the vineyard there are also restrictions with the winemaking process too, including a reduced use of sulphur dioxide.

It is worth noting that there are many wine-growers who elect to farm organically (or biodynamically) but who have no desire to seek certification or accreditation for their efforts and as such are seen as practicing organic (PO). Their reasons for converting from conventional practices are generally for health and sustainability issues and not marketing inspired. Therefore, whilst their wines are organic in the true sense of the word, they are not allowed to market their wines as ‘Certified Organic’.

Finally, there is another winemaking discipline which in French is called ‘la lutte raisonnée’. It is becoming increasingly popular in viticulture parlance but there are cynics who are wary of this practice as it is a rather grey area of organic and sustainable winemaking philosophy. Essentially growers adopting this regime have stopped treating systemically and essentially follow organic disciplines, but they reserve the right to treat the vines if faced with a particular problem. At its best this is just a common sense decision to farm as safely as possible, adopting organic and often experimenting with biodynamic viticulture, but remaining free of dogma. It can however, from the cynics’ perspectives, be seen as a rather cosy way of allowing the grower to do whatever he likes.

Hic! is pleased to support a number of outstanding wine producers in their efforts and offer for sale an excellent range of organic wines in the online wine shop.

Biodynamic Wines

Biodynamic Wines 3

Biodynamic wine production is an approach to winemaking based upon the work of Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner. In addition to organic practices such as the exclusion of chemical or synthetic herbicides, fertilisers and pesticides, biodynamic farmers rely upon special plant, animal and mineral preparations to enhance the health of their soil and vines. Utilising the Stella Natura Biodynamic agricultural calendar, biodynamic farmers also consider the positioning and rhythmic influences of the sun, moon, planets and stars as guides for when to prune their vines, plant new vines or pick the fruit.

For winemakers the key principle of biodynamic wine production is totally logical. It makes no sense to extol the virtues on the geology of a vineyard, the unique aspects of its soil (its ‘terroir’) and what that imparts to the wine, if that soil is then totally transformed by a mixture of chemicals, herbicides and fertilisers. Healthy soil dictates healthy vines and experience has shown that biodynamic practices give rise to greater purity and precision in the resulting wines.

Steiner’s biodynamic disciplines date back to the early 1920’s, (twenty years before the organic movement) and followed the notion that in harnessing the metaphysical, the physical is improved. In his approach to agriculture, Steiner believed that the health of the soil, plants and animals depends on reconnecting nature with the creative forces of the cosmos. The practical methods he outlined were intended to be adopted by farmers and winemakers alike with the intention to revitalise the natural forces that were rapidly becoming depleted through modern agricultural techniques.

Beginning with a healthy living soil, often enhanced by judicious quantities of biodynamic, naturally-occurring preparations, Steiner felt that it was also important to recognise the role of the rhythms of light from planets, sun, moon and stars. Understanding this aspect allows for optimal timings in viticultural activity and thus it follows that, if the winemaker is tuned into their needs, the vines and soil will respond better.

Steiner’s concept is not that difficult to grasp, after all, we know about lunar cycles, tidal flow and seasonality, so have already accepted certain, very obvious aspects of these life forces without question.

Undertaking a biodynamic approach is far from an easy option and the problem for many winemakers is that in order to produce wine biodynamically, the adoption of its principles has to be wholesale, with no holds barred. Following the rhythms of earth and space is taxing and even very diligent organic farmers are wary of the extreme measures required to conform fully to the disciplines which are considered by many to be too expensive.

Thankfully, more and more winemakers are experimenting in biodynamic principles and gradually adopting what, ultimately, is a life changing way of working. Whilst the initial aim may have been the long term sustainability of the land and the health of themselves and their co-workers, the results of their endeavours has witnessed an intense and more honest expression of terroir.

Hic! has a range of biodynamic wines from some of the world’s finest producers available to buy at the online wine shop.

Vegan and Vegetarian Wines

Vegan Vegetarian BannerFor those who adopt a Vegetarian or Veganism lifestyle, choosing a bottle of wine as your preferred liquid refreshment may not be as straightforward as one would think. Whilst wine label information is slowly becoming more informative and regulations dictate certain details must now be disclosed, there are still aspects of a wines history missing from wine labels that could aid consumers further in their decision making process, especially those with a vegan or vegetarian philosophy.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A WINE IS VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN?

Many would believe that a wine labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ would be a good starting point, but this winemaking process has no bearing on whether the wine will be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. What is important is how the wine is treated or finished in the final stages of production and it is this which can create a potential moral hazard!

Most winemakers choose to clarify and stabilise their wines before bottling by using a practice known as fining. There are good reasons to do this not least because fining a wine not only makes the wine look clear, but it also lowers the risk that the wine will take on unwanted flavours or aromas in the bottle before it is opened.

In order to ascertain if a wine is suitable for a vegetarian or vegan you need to know how the wine is ‘fined’. The substances used by winemakers for fining can be derived from many sources, some of which are animal based.

For example gelatine (protein from animal bones and cartilage), isinglass (swim bladders from fish) are certainly not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Other fining agents such as Casein (milk protein) and albumen (egg whites) would be considered acceptable fining agents for vegetarians but would still be unacceptable for strict vegans.

Thankfully, for vegans there are non-animal alternatives that do exist and which are used by winemakers all over the world. Some of these include bentonite (impure clay), kieselguhr (sedimentary rock), kaolin (clay mineral) and silica gel. In addition there are winemakers who choose not to fine their wines at all, those who choose to filter only and those that choose to neither ‘fine’ nor ‘filter’ and often declare their wine ‘unfiltered’.

It is worth noting that none of the fining agents actually remain in the wine at all after clarification, but the fact that they have had contact with the liquid is an important consideration for some people.

IF A WINE IS FINED WITH THE FOLLOWING, IT IS SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS AND VEGANS:

  • Bentonite (clay base)
  • Kieselghur
  • Kaolin
  • PVPP (polyvinylpolypyrolidone)
  • Use of tangential filter
  • No fining

IF A WINE IS FINED WITH THE FOLLOWING, IT IS SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS BUT NOT FOR VEGANS:

  • Casein (milk)
  • Albumen (eggs)

IF A WINE IS FINED WITH THE FOLLOWING, IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS OR VEGANS:

  • Gelatine (protein from animal bones / cartilage)
  • Isinglass (fish swim bladders)

A wide range of wines and sparkling wines suitable for both Vegans and Vegetarians are available to buy online by the bottle, case or as part of a mixed case from the Hic! wine shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Andalucía

Andalucia Wine GuideThe Andalucía region of southwestern Spain is home to the world famous fine wines of Sherry, which takes its name from the town of Jerez and also the dessert style wines of Montilla-Moriles (DO).

These ancient lands have been planted to vineyards for nearly 3,000 years. But this part of Iberia was long under the control of the Moors and Islam and winemaking was discouraged, if not outright forbidden, here from 711 to 1492.

For many visitors to the region Andalucía can appear to be more moonscape rather than landscape; hot and arid, rugged and hard. But remarkably Andalucía’s mountains carry other possibilities. With abrupt shifts in elevation, fascinating dessert wines have been produced within areas such as Montilla-Moriles and Málaga and with temperatures easily surpassing 100°F in the summer, this is an area ideal for the production of fortified and dessert style wines.
Andalucía’s most famous wine area, Jerez (Sherry), receives more rainfall than most other parts of southern Spain. That rain is captured by the special limestone-rich soils of the area, called ‘albariza’, that bake in the summer sun into a hard crust, trapping cool moisture for the vines’ needs.

Understanding Sherry and its complexities is a bit of a minefield and can leave many bewildered by the various styles and types. But it is quite simple: Sherry is fortified wine. However, it’s fortified after the fermentation, so unlike Port, all Sherry begins its life as a dry wine.

Sherry is initially classified as one of two wines: Fino or Olosoro. A Fino is intended to be a light, crisp, delicate wine even at its usual alcohol level of 15% or more. The great Finos are aged in barrel underneath a yeast film called ‘flor’ (or ‘flower’) which protects the wine from oxygen, adding flavours and aromas as well.

Great Finos have the tangy aroma of the ‘flor’ with its distinct almond character and aromas similar to mushroom and sometimes cheese rind. The Finos aged in the bodegas of the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda take on even more of the aromas of the ocean and are given the distinct name of ‘Manzanilla’.

Finos that eventually lose their ‘flor’ will be topped up, fortified to a higher level of alcohol (around 18 percent), and allowed to age into something called amontillado. Amontillado’s contain echoes of the character of the Fino from which they grew, but pecans, honey, caramel, toffee, nuts, dried fruits, and many other aromas and flavours begin to take over.

The other great category of Sherry is Oloroso. These are usually made sweet, although a handful of them are left dry. The term Oloroso can be loosely translated into something powerfully aromatic, and the long barrel ageing required for great Oloroso certainly gives it aromas, which might include toffee, walnuts, prunes, cherries, orange rind, spices, chocolate, and myriad other delectable, dessert-like characteristics.

Sherry is also defined by its ‘solera’ process of ageing. Solera is a system of graduated blending whereby a portion of Sherry is drawn from an old barrel, which is subsequently filled from a barrel of younger Sherry. Barrels of younger and younger Sherries cascade downward so that old and new Sherries are gently and systematically blended together.

The Do’s of Andalucía are:

DO Condado de Huelva – Read more….

DO Jerez-Manzanilla – Read more…

DO Málaga – Read more…

DO Montilla-Moriles – Read more…

DO Sierras de Málaga – Read more…

DO Ycoden Daute Isora – Read more…

Browse a range of sherry and wines from the Andalucía wine region for sale online at the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Duero River Valley

Duero River Valley

The Duero River Valley wine region is located in North Central Spain and encompasses the wine production area of Castilla y León based around the River Duero. This is the old seat of Spanish nobility when the Moors still controlled the southern portion of the country, and it extends as far northwest as the Bierzo (DO) and the beginning of the Green Spain wine region.

The Duero River travels 460 miles from high in the Sistema Ibérico and forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal. It empties into the Atlantic ocean at Oporto, a town in Portugal that gives its name to a famous Portuguese fortified wine…. Port!

The table wines grown along the banks of the Duero River can be nearly as intense as Port, but are far more practical as drinking red wines. Roasted spring lamb on a BBQ of old-vine cuttings  is fantastic here, and the cold Atlantic seems far away in both climate and cuisine. Though many of the vineyards have only a gentle, round contour, the viticulture here is at high altitude: days are warm and can get hot, but nights are cold thus slowing down the ripening period. Consequently, the wines become rich and ripe, the less expensive ones destined for immediate, delicious drinking, whilst the top wines (Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Pesquera and many others) can last for decades.

The region’s success has seen vineyards expand, and now names such as Sardón del Duero, Arribes, Arlanza, Cigales and other satellite regions are garnering well-deserved attention. In the Cigales DO Rosé wine production has been the mainstay, however, the Tempranillo grape is having a greater impact on their reds now it would seem.

The Tempranillo grape performs extremely well in the DO wine region of Toro too, making powerful, even massive wines. On the other side of the Duero River, the Rueda DO has claimed its own international spotlight with the success of the white Verdejo grape. Here it is likened to (and occasionally blended with) Sauvignon Blanc, however it posses its own unique citrus aromas and pear texture and flavours.

The DO’s of the Duero River Valley wine region are:

DO Arlanza – Read more…

DO Arribes – Read more…

DO Cigales – Read more…

DO Ribera del Duero – Read more…

DO Rueda – Read more…

DO Tierra de León – Read more…

DO Tierra del Vino de Zamora – Read more…

DO Toro – Read more…

To buy wines online from the Duero River Valley wine region of Spain visit the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Green Spain

Green Spain Wine GuideThis region of Spain, exposed to the northern Atlantic, can be cold, wet, and green, hence its name, España Verde or ‘Green Spain’. The wine region stretches from Galicia on Spain’s northwest coast to a portion of northern Spain that includes the Txakoli DOs of the Basque Country. The regions of Ribeiro (DO), Ribeira Sacra (DO), and Valdeorras (DO) enjoy pockets of protection from the cool, sometimes cold, and often wet coastal influences.

Green Spain’s cool and misty climate dictates that wine producers focus on earlier-ripening grapes, especially white varieties. It is the aromatic grape varieties that prosper, with Albariño one of the most successful in international markets. Grown along the coast, or along the rivers that give Rias Baixas (‘lower fjords’) its name, Albariño is the dominant white grape variety producing styles that can vary from crisp and tangy to round and peachy.

As you move inland there are other white grape varieties that fill the vineyards; the rich and complex Godello grape rules in Valdeorras (the “valley of gold”, reflecting Rome’s interest in the place 2000 years ago). Godello, Treixadura and other varieties are grown in the regions of Monterrei and the picturesque DOs of Ribeiro and Ribeira Sacra.

Away from the coast temperatures rise and so red grape varieties are planted; the Mencia grape is arguably northwest Spain’s best red variety producing lip-smacking wines packed with raspberry tones and floral aromas.

Green Spain’s vineyards extend all the way to Basque Country, often backing into the Pyrenees or the Sierra Cantábrica, sheltering more famous wine regions such as Rioja.

The DO’s of Green Spain are:

DO Arabako Txakolina

DO Bierzo – Read more…

DO Bizkaiko Txakolina – Read more…

DO Getariako Txakolina – Read more…

DO Monterrei – Read more…

DO Rias Baixas – Read more…

DO Ribeira Sacra – Read more…

DO Ribeiro – Read more…

DO Valdeorras – Read more…

Shop for wines from Green Spain online at the Hic! Wine Shop.

Wine By Region | Spain – Ebro River Valley

The Ebro River Valley

Snaking between the Sierra de Cantábria mountains and the Sierra Demanda, the River Ebro and its tributaries have helped carve out vineyards that have been celebrated for at least two centuries.

Rioja DOC/DOCa is a wine region that has traditionally carried Spain’s reputation for high quality wine production and is made up of three sub-regions: Rioja Alavesa; Rioja Alta; and Rioja Baja. They each have distinct differences but any notion of a hierarchy between them is now somewhat misguided. As is the fashion with grapes too, for whilst the black Tempranillo is still king, Garnacha, Mazuelo (Carineña), Graciano and increasing numbers of other indigenous grapes are generating new ideas and styles in the region.

Rioja produces a collection of red, white and rosé wines, but it is the reds that account for the greater part of its fame. Ageing classifications have, until recently, been the primary means for separating one wine from another.

Rioja Joven (‘young’) wines are destined for early drinking and they often see little or no oak and are only aged for one to two years before release.

Rioja labelled as Crianza are aged for two years (one year in oak and one year in bottle) and are best suited for early or mid-term enjoyment.

Rioja Reserva wines are aged for three years, often one year in oak and two years in bottle; however there are producers who go above and beyond this requirement with their Reserva wines. Rioja Reserva wines can be age-worthy or offer serious immediate consumption.

Rioja Gran Reserva wines have been regarded as the region’s pinnacle; they are at least five years old (two years in oak barrel and three years in bottle) and are generally ready to drink. But they can age for years too; their long barrel ageing often renders them gentle and complex, rather than big and rich.

Whilst Rioja has often been seen as the traditional area of quality wine production nearby neighbour Navarra has generally been known for quantity. Navarra is a region historically renowned for its rosé wines made from the Garnacha grape, although it is now gaining popularity for quality driven red wines made from more fashionable international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot.

Farther south, Calatayud (DO), Campo de Borja (DO), and Cariñena (DO) provide a range of great value wine styles. To the east, vineyards are nestled along the base of the foothills of the Pyrenées, where the cool-climate region of Somontano (DO) can be found.

To buy a selection of carefully chosen wines from the Ebro River Valley wine region of Spain please visit our online wine shop and browse our great range of Rioja for sale online: Hic! Wine Shop

Wine By Region | Spain – The Islands of Spain

The Islands of Spain

Away from the Spanish mainland, Spain also has two wine producing groups of islands, the Balearic Islands and The Canaries. The Balearic Islands is a single province region consisting of the islands of Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera as well as other small islands. The Region is located in the Mediterranean Sea, to the east of the Iberian Peninsula. The capital city is Palma de Mallorca. The area’s winemaking tradition is protected by two Designations of Origin: Binissalem-Mallorca and Pla i Llevant. Quality wines are also produced in small wineries on the islands of Ibiza, Formentera and Menorca.

The Canary Islands is located off the north coast of Africa, bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. This Autonomous Community includes seven main islands: Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The islands remain phylloxera–free, and so grapes that may exist nowhere else still survive here and amongst which include: Listán Negro, Negramoll, Tintilla (red grapes) and Malvasía, Listán Blanco and Albillo (whites) among others.

Spain’s highest mountain is on Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, and most of the island’s vineyards are grown on these fertile, volcanic soils. There are a number of DOs on these islands, and most are very interesting and certainly worth seeking out.

Wine By Region | Spain – The Mediterranean Coast

The Mediterranean Coast Wine Region of SpainSpain’s Mediterranean Coast wine region spans the eastern coast of Spain from its northern border with France to the border with Andalucía in the south. Within this vast expanse a wide variety of wines are produced, from crisp, fragrant sparkling Cava wines and dry whites to dense and earthy wines made from Garnacha, Cariñena, Monastrell, and more.

Here the warmth of the coast can be mitigated by high altitudes, whether in Cataluña or in Valencia. Throughout most of this region world-class wines are being produced in areas such as Priorate and Monsanto as well as in established areas such as Penedés.

In Cataluña, which occupies a triangle-shaped area south of the border with France in Spain’s northeast, elevation as well as proximity and exposure to the sea are crucial to the styles of wine produced. The vineyards of the area may be fairly moderate and coastal, as in Alella DO, or remote and mountainous, as in Priorat DOC/DOCa

South of Cataluña along a long stretch of Spain’s east coast, the land heats up, and as summer temperatures rise, the opportunity to make light wines is baked away. Instead, from northwest of the city of Valencia, south to the Cap de la Nau pointing past Ibiza towards Sicily and all the way to Murcia, the area’s vineyards are wholly dependent upon water. Where water is available for viticulture, many good wines are made, and hardy vines, especially old vines with deep roots that find enough moisture in the soil, survive where water is scarce.

The DO’s of the region are:

Alella DO: Alella’s proximity to Barcelona has added to its success, at least in Spain, but it also now puts the region at risk as the land under vine is worth far more to housing, hotel, and, resort developers than to wineries. Here the Pansá Blanca grape (also known as Xarel-lo and sometimes Pasá Blanca) performs well in the limestone, granite, and sandstone soils of the coastal and hillside vineyards.

Alicante DO: Alicante’s large, present–day 35,000 acres of vineyards pale in comparison to the 230,000+ acres that were bearing fruit before phylloxera destroyed them. Back before phylloxera struck the most proficient grape planted was Moscatel de Alejandría (Muscat of Alexandria, or as it was likely known before, Moscatel of Alicante). The grape and the region have since recovered but it is no longer the powerhouse producing region it was. One of the DO’s famed dessert wines, Fondillón, is now more likely to be made from Monastrell than from Moscatel.

Bullas DO: This is a large region just south of Jumilla where the vineyards in hills and valleys can run from 2,000 to 2,800 feet. Monastrell, Garnacha, and Tempranillo are produced here alongside the famous French grape varieties. The highest areas are considered to give the best quality.

Cataluña DO:  The Cataluña DO was established in 1999 to allow the greatest flexibility to winemakers hopeful of blending commercial wines from throughout this corner of Spain. While most wineries seem to seek the more delineated names of Empordà, Montsant, and the others within the larger Cataluña area, names such as Clos d’Agon are helping to bring greater recognition to DO Cataluña (or Catalunya, in Catalan).

Conca de Barberà DO: The concave (conca) bowl of this limestone–rich valley has produced some outstanding wines which historically have been mostly white wines; the Chardonnay grape thrives here. But Torres, among others, with its Grans Muralles vineyard bottling, has offered proof that this can be an exciting place for reds made with both international and autochthonous varieties. The DO is protected from the sea by the mountains and fed by the Francolí and Anguera rivers.

Costers del Segre DO: This is a top-performing DO that can be found in the province of Lérida. The vineyards are traditionally devoted to Cava production, but Raimat has long been focused upon making top–flight red and white wines from both French and indigenous varieties with international success.

Empordà DO: The Empordà DO can be found lying at the foot of the narrowest section of the Pyrenees and is the closet Spanish wine region to France. Most of the production here is rosado style wines, but the red wines from here are very good too.

Jumilla DO: The high, hilly vineyards of Jumilla still have ungrafted vines planted. Almost all the wine produced in this DO is red and it is the Monastrell grape that seems to thrive here.

Montsant DO: The Montsant DO is potentially a very exciting region that is forging a growing reputation for the quality of wines produced here. It’s vineyards surround the edges of Priorat, and shares grapes (Garnacha & Cariñena) and styles also with its more illustrious neighbour. The only great differences between the two are that the vineyards are usually not as old and the elevations and terrains are not as wild in Montsant as they are in Priorat.

Penedés DO: While Cava can be made in many of the DOs throughout Spain, almost 90 percent is made in the Penedés DO. With good money available to vineyard owners who want to sell early–picked grapes to Cava producers, there is little reason to grow grapes for high–quality table wine. There are excellent red and white wines made in the region, but it is the sparkling Cava wines which rule here.

Pla de Bages DO: Bages is a derivative of Bacchus, the name of the Roman God of Wine, and although winemaking is an old tradition in Bages this is still just an up-and-coming wine region with many newly planted vineyards and a number of small modern bodegas. International varieties, as well as Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Macabeo, are performing well here, and many people enthuse over the white Picapoll grape, which is perfectly pleasant and crisp.

Tarragona DO: Before 2004, the Tarragona DO contained Montsant, but the best vineyards, especially those around Falset, were divided off and combined with elevated areas north of Priorat to make the Montsant DO. The greater part of the vineyards of the Tarragona DO are given to Cava production, although there are some very good white and red wines to be hunted out.

Terra Alta DO: This region lies in the highlands well away from the coast and produces some very good everyday drinking red and white wines. The traditional grapes of Garnacha, Cariñena. Temparnillo, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, and Parellada dominate the vineyard plantings.

Utiel-Requena DO: This is a large and important DO producing region of Spain that focuses on red wine production in the extreme west of the province of Valencia. Bobal is the grape variety that appears to be leading the way.

Valencia DO: Valencia is historically famed for its wines, Spain’s third largest city sold wines from everywhere, not only from its native vines. There are some very good red wines produced from the Monastrell grape, but it is the Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes which are really catching the eye here.

Yecla DO: Yecla is situated bewteen Alicante and Jumilla and share’s many similar traits aspect wise to those in Jumilla. Monastrell is the red grape which performs well here as too the dessert style wines.

Priorat DOC/DOCa: Priorat is Spain’s second DOCa along with Rioja and is one of the country’s oldest appellations. It is regarded as one of Spain’s wine producing super-stars with some of the country’s most expensive wines being made in the region. The area has a dry climate and poor soil in which the vines roots spread everywhere in search of water. The new style of red wines made here are stunningly rich and powerful.

Wine By Region | Spain – The Meseta

The Meseta Wine Region of SpainThe Meseta (also known as the Central Plateau) wine region of Spain is an enormous wine producing region that produces nearly half of all the wine in Spain. Almost two-thirds of all Spain’s vineyards are planted upon this vast central plateau which encapsulates Madrid to the north, Cáceres to the west and Albacete to the east. It is home to the world’s most widely planted white grape variety, ‘Airén’, a grape that produces rather unspectacular table wine but does excel when distilled for the production of Brandy de Jerez.

For a long time it was considered that no wine of any real quality could be made on the ‘tabletop’ that represents the centre of the elevated plateau in Spain; however, huge European Union investment has attracted a number of foreign buyers into the region who recognise the potential to be had here, especially by planting vineyards in amongst the significant mountain spots dotted throughout the region.

A broad range of grape varieties including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah have been introduced into the region taking advantage of the strong differences between day-time and night-time temperatures which grapes appear to thrive upon and now resulting in the production of very good high-quality wines.

The work of Carlos Falcó (Marqués de Griñón, owner of Dominio de Valdepusa and other estates) in the region led to the creation of the highest tier of Spanish wine designations called Vino de Pago which is a single vineyard area designation. His Dominio de Valdepusa vineyard became the first to receive a Vino de Pago DO and there are now a total of eight DO Pago’s in the region.

The Denominación de Origen regions in the Meseta wine region are:

Almansa DO is a large wine producing region but home to only a few wine producers. The region produces mostly Monastrell and shows great potential not only with value but with their high quality oak-aged wines.

La Mancha DO is a large region that relies heavily on its plantings of the local Airén grape for brandy production. There are other grape varieties in production including Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all of which prove a popular partner to the local Manchego cheese.

Manchuela DO has several wineries championing the indigenous Bobal grape for both red and rosado style wines.

Méntrida DO is separated from the beautiful city of Toledo by the Tajo River and is a vast, flat and sandy region planted primarily with the Garnacha grape, although other vines such as Tempranillo, Albillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon are also planted. Madrid is just to the northeast of this DO and provides a welcome local market for the reds and rosados.

Mondéjar DO is a small region with some vineyards planted at elevations approaching 3000 feet offering great potential in the future.

Ribera del Guadiana DO is a sprawling region that touches the border to Portugal and has a myriad of grape varieties planted that are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and French. Winemaking has flourished here since Roman times, and the city of Mérida includes an amphitheatre, an aqueduct, bridges, a circus, and a hippodrome from those long-gone imperialists.

Ribera del Júcar DO is located to the eastern side of the La Mancha DO. The extreme summer temperatures are mitigated by elevation (vineyards are planted at roughly 1800 feet) and the proximity of the river Júcar. The most popular varieties grown include Cencibel and Bobal.

Uclés DO is a small region that is prone to some of the most extreme temperatures in Spain. Even though large producers dominate, the region shows potential based on its higher elevation vineyards.

Valdepeñas DO is a wine region of nearly 70,000 acres planted to Garnacha, Cencibel, Airén, and Macabeo grapes. The wines produced here have a centuries–long legacy of international popularity.

Vinos de Madrid DO is a region rapidly diminishing because of the growth of the city, however, towards the south there is a focus on two local white grapes: Malvar and Albillo. The area of Vinos de Madrid that’s farthest from the city has many ancient Garnacha vineyards.

The Vino de Pago DO’s include: Pago Calzadilla, Pago Campo de la Guardia, Pago Casa del Blanco, Pago Dehesa del Carrizal, Pago Dominio de Valdepusa, Pago Finca Élez, Pago Florentino and Pago Guijoso.

Discover more about the Meseta Wine region of Spain online.