North West Spain


North West Spain


W

hile for years the quality of Spanish wine in the more established regions and DOs had been acceptable it could also have fairly been said that the real potential in the country remained untapped. However, the past half decade or so has seen dramatic change both in fine-wine production and in lesser regions. There are new-wave Riojas and an abundance of great reds from Castilla y León, but other, smaller regions like Priorat have also been providing some remarkable and striking wines in recent years. Further south, in the great centre of the country, relaxation of the regulations governing irrigation and a desire to harness the potential of the best hillside sites as well as some fine, old bush-vine plantings of regional varieties has brought increasing change. It remains depressing, however that despite all this there is still a sizeable amount of sometimes very mediocre wine being produced in almost all the established regions.

The wines of north-western Spain are produced in Castilla y León and Galicia. Immediately to the west of Rioja is Ribera del Duero which, along with exceptional examples in Rioja and Priorat, produces most of the finest reds in the country. The historic Vega Sicilia bodega is based here and top reds are produced in and around the region as Vinos de Mesa and Vinos de la Tierra (VdT) as well as DO. While the greatest Ribera del Duero wines are both magnificent and pricey, too many remain depressingly mediocre with baked and often dried out fruit and hard tannins. The wines are based on Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) but may also include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec in the blend.

Dusk in the vineyards of Pago de Carraovejas

To the north-west is the small DO of Cigales, where some good, structured reds are made, and to the west the white-wine DO of Rueda. Interesting barrel-fermented and single vineyard wines from both Sauvignon Blanc and the local Verdejo are produced. The latter can be responsible for some very striking and potentially ageworthy whites. Immediately west of Rueda and also centred on the Duero river towards Zamora and Portugal is the warm red-wine area of Toro. The vineyard area here has always promised much but it is only relatively recently that wines of real depth have begun to emerge, some world-class. A local strain of Tempranillo, Tinto de Toro, is the mainstay of blends but Garnacha is also permitted and old vines contribute much to quality. A number of very impressive wines are also produced under the VdT (Vinos de La Tierra) Castilla y León classification. Look out also for the recently established DOs of Arribes and Tierra del Vino de Zamora. In the far west of the Castilla y León region is the small, visually striking DO of Bierzo which now produces both easy-drinking and truly exciting reds as well as a little white. On a note about classification VdT labelled wines are gradually being moved to the new IGP (Indicación de Origen Protegida) like France. Wines labelled VC (Vinos de Calidad) are from regions due to be upgraded to full DO status. In the south of Castilla y León is the newly established Sierra de Salamanca DO producing stylish reds from the indigenous Rufete.

Virtually adjoining Bierzo but in fact in Galicia is Valdeorras. Reds are produced, like those in Bierzo, from Mencía but of particular note are the whites produced mainly from the unusual, indigenous Godello. The best are floral, ripe and respond well to handling in oak. Some attractive, fruity as well as more structured whites are also produced in Ribeiro but the greatest concentration of bodegas are found in the coastal vineyards of Rías Baixas. Their strikingly aromatic whites are generally best enjoyed young but the odd example is successfully barrel-fermented and will keep in the short to medium term, not dissimilar in this respect to more structured examples from Condrieu in the northern Rhône. Some exceptional mineral, elegant and nervy reds also emanate from the, at times near vertiginous, slopes of Ribeira Sacra. Fine reds and whites are also found at Monterrei on the Spanish/Portuguese border.

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A to Z of producers by appellation

Arlanza
Bodega La Colegiada
Arribes
Almaroja
Bodegas Ribera De Pelazas
Bierzo
Casar de Burbia
Castro Ventosa
Cuatro Pasos
Descendientes De J.Palacios
Bodegas Estefania
Gancedo
Godelia
Losada
Mencia de Dos
Paixar
Bodegas Peique
Raúl Pérez
Pittacum
Dominio De Tares
Cigales
Balvinar
Bodegas César Príncipe
Emeterio Fernández
Lezcano Lacalle
Traslanzas
Monterrei
Quinta da Muradella
Quinta do Buble
Rías Baixas
Agro de Bazan
Alma Atlántica
Bodegas As Laxas
El Jardín de Lucia
Adega Eidos
Bodegas Fillaboa
La Cana
La Val
Lagar de Besada
Lagar de Cervera
Lagar de Condesa
Lagar de Costa
Mar de Envero
Bodegas Martin Codax
Gerardo Mendez
Viña Nora
Orowines
Mar de Envero
Palacio de Fefinanes
Pazo Baion
Pazo das Bruxas
Pazo San Mauro
Pazo de Señoráns
Pazos de Lusco
Eulogio Pomares
Santiago Ruiz
Terras Gauda
Vinos Trico
Adegas Valminor
Vinum Terrae
Zárate
Ribeira Sacra
Dominio do Bibei
Adegas Guimaro
Pena das Donas
Tolo do Xisto
Ribeiro
Coto de Gomariz
Casal de Armán
José Estévez Fernández
Adega Manuel Formigo
Lagar do Mérens
Adega Manuel Rojo
Emilio Rojo
Sameiras
Sanclodio
Viña de Martin
Viña Mein
Ribera del Duero
Aalto
Alión
Alonso del Yerro
Arrocal
Ismael Arroyo
Arzuaga Navarro
Bodegas Aster
Baden Numan
JM Burgos
Felix Callejo
Bodegas Cepa 21
Condado de Haza
Bodegas Conde
Conde de San Cristobal
Dominio de Atauta
Dominio de Pingus
Alejandro Fernãndez
O. Fournier
Gallegos Zapatero
Garmón Continental
Hornillos Ballesteros
Hacienda Monasterio
Bodegas La Horra
Los Astrales
Montebaco
Montecastro
Emilio Moro
Pago de Carraovejas
Pago de Los Capellanes
Pérez Pascuas
Pesquera
Bodega Rodero
Torremilanos
Trus
Vizcarra-Ramos
Vega Sicilia
Finca Villacreces
Rueda
Belondrade y Lurton
Hermanos del Villar
Loess
Hermanos Lurton
Bodegas Menade
Naia Viña Sila
Ossian
Palacio de Bornos
José Pariente
Sitios de Bodega
Shaya
Terna Bodegas
Vega de La Reina
Bodegas Vidal Soblechero
Yllera
Sierra de Salamanca
Cámbrico
Tierra de León
Leyenda del Páramo
Bodega Margon
Pardevalles
Tierra del Vino de Zamora
Viñas del Cénit
Toro
Dominio del Bendito
Bienvenida de Vinos
Bodegas Burdigala
Caro Dorum
Dos Victorias
El Albar
Bodegas Estancia Piedra
Liberalia Enologica
Bodega F. Lurton
Matarredonda
Maurodos
Bodega Numanthia Termes
Pintia
Quinta de La Quietud
Rejadorada
Rompesedas
Teso La Monja
Toresanas
Vetus
Valdeorras
Avanthia
Bodegas Godeval
Rafael Palacios
Santa Marta Bodegas
Viña Somoza
Bodegas Valdesil
VdT Castilla y León
Abadía Retuerta
Bodega La Colegiada
Dehesa de Cadozos
Dehesa La Granja
Dominio Dostares
Haciendas Durius
Garnacha Alta Alberche
La Mejorada
Leda Vinas Viejas
Maldivinas
Mauro
Rodriguez Sanzo
Quinta Sardonia
Bodegas Triton
Zerberos
Hacienda Zorita
VdM Galicia
Lagar de Sabariz

 

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