Tag Archive for: spanish wine

For a wine lover, a wine tour of Spain & Portugal  is an easy way to experience the best wine regions of both countries. For us, the ideal Iberian wine route starts in Barcelona and ends in Porto or Lisbon. The cava cellars of Penedes and mythical reds of the Priorat wine region are highly accessible from Barcelona. Then from Priorat head to the source of Spanish red wine, the famous la Rioja. Just 3 hours away is the most exclusive wine region of Spain, Ribera del Duero, where the Tempranillo grape is king. From here, one crosses the border from Spain into Portugal, and enjoys the scenic beauty of the Douro Valley,  the most iconic wine region of Portugal. If you end your Spain & Portugal wine tour in Porto a visit to one of the many historic lodges along the Douro river with Port tastings is a must! Continuing to Lisbon, the undiscovered Vinho Verde and authentic rural Alentejo wine regions are mandatory stops.

For those wishing to experience the best of Spanish and Portuguese wine regions, we have carefully crafted our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain & Portugal. This 10 day wine tour covers the best regions of Spain & Portugal, the most interesting wineries and the most beautiful scenery.

Vinyes del celler Clos Figures, DOQ Priorat, darrera, el poble del Lloar, Gratallops, Priorat, Tarragona

Fly to Barcelona and start your wine trip in the Penedes Wine Region of Spain, famed as Cava country. Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine produced in the Traditional Method, just like Champagne. This Spanish bubbly was awarded it’s own D.O. (Wine Appellation) in 1986 and, although there are a few Spanish wine regions that produce Cava, the wine region of Penedes is the main area of production, over 90%. The Penedes wine region flagship grape variety is Xarel.lo making it the Penedes cava icon. Your visit to Penedes should include at least one of the spectacular modernist cava cellars as well as one of the emerging high- quality organic producers.

Your wine lovers tour continues to the Priorat Wine Region of Spain, where exceptional quality, red wines await you. These limited production reds are labelled DOC (Qualified Appellation of Origin) a denomination reserved to only Priorat and la Rioja. The Priorat wine region is famous for its mineral-rich soil and terraced hillsides of slate (called licorella by the locals), which create a unique humidity for the vines. Priorat wines blend the wine varietals of Garnacha and Cariñena and are substantial, inky wines of distinct character and reputation.

A not-to-be-missed stop is the Rioja Wine Region of Spain. Here we love to showcase the contrasts between historic and traditional wineries, some of them still making their own barrels and the sleek, modern cellars with amazing state-of -the-art wine-making techniques.  In the Rioja wine region there is a heavy use of oak for long ageing, which is the signature Rioja style, resulting in polished reds based mainly on Tempranillo but also Graciano and Garnacha blends. Bodegas Roda nave fermantación

Continuing west, you arrive to the Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain. Here you will taste the more modern, full-bodied and slightly more sophisticated single-vineyard wines at two of our favourite cellars. Part of Ribera del Duero wines’ uniqueness is due to Tinto Fino, the indigenous type of Tempranillo grape. The most mythical and inaccessible Spanish wineries are here, along the legendary Ribera del Duero Golden Mile and you will be lucky to visit one.

Crossing the border now you arrive to the beautiful Douro Valley wine region in Portugal, considered one the most spectacular wine regions of the world! Its characteristic terraced vineyards on the sloping hills meet the meandering river below. The in-vogue again Port wine is made here at various quintas (port wine cellars) along a narrow river gorge that winds 100 miles through the mountain ranges. Historically, Port wine was shipped downriver to the city of Porto for ageing, aboard sail-boats called Rabelos. Nowadays, the Douro Valley wine region of Portugal produces not only Port wines but also excellent reds mainly using the Touriga Nacional grape.

Douro Valley


Following the route of Port wine, as the grape juice once did from the Douro, you arrive to Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, famous for the Port Wine Lodges of historic port wine producers. Port houses have aged their wines in Vila Nova de Gaia for over three centuries and here, the ageing and blending of most of the world’s supply of Port wine takes place beneath a sea of red roofs emblazoned with some of the most famous names in wine-making.

If your Spain & Portugal wine tour is 10 days only, Porto is the perfect finale for this unique wine trip!  Take advantage of our expertise and let us take you to the very best wine regions and wineries of Spain and Portugal. We will ensure for you the best winery visits and wine tastings with expert in-house guides,  hand selected hotels and you will e able to make the most of your wine tastings as your chauffeur takes the driving strain!

You may like to include other wine regions of Spain and Portugal in your private wine tour, for example the up and coming Vinho Verde in northern Portugal and the rural, quaint and very authentic Alentejo wine region, half way between Andalucia and Lisbon. Just let us know and we can happily custom build your perfect wine tour based on your preferences. If you are looking for an ideal for the best route, have a look at our sample itinerary  Wine Lovers Tour of Spain & Portugal . Contact us for pricing or to start custom building your perfect wine tour of Spain and Portugal!

The green Peñin Guide (to Spanish wine what the red Michelin guide is to food) is now in its 28th edition and is THE definitive guide to Spanish wine.

This year, over 11.500 wines were reviewed for the 2018 Peñín Guide, with just 163 wines being privileged to receive the highest scores and to take their place in the elitist “Podium” category, the most desired level by the winemakers, the famous sanctuary of the chosen few, reserved only for  wines awarded from 95 to 100 points.

All “Podium” wines have been elaborated by experienced wine-makers and there is a tiny group of these privileged who have managed to enter their first year of tasting through the front door.

Here are 10 “Podium” wines that have fully entered into this select group to be able to be known as some of the best wines of Spain.   Ten Moving Spanish Wines for 2018:


Benjamín Romeo Colección Nº2: La Canoca 2011 Gran Reserva – 96 points

Cellar: Bodega Contador

Appellation: DOCa. Rioja

Varieties: tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo and graciano

Color: dark cherry, maroon edge.

Aroma: ripe fruit, candied fruit, wood carving, tabacco, sweet spices.

Mouth: spicy, mature tannins, long, elegant, round


Canta la Perdiz 2013 Tinto – 95 points

Cellar: Dominio del Águila

Appellation: DO Ribera del Duero

Varieties: 95% tempranillo / 5% otras

Color: cherry.

Aroma: complex, expressive, spicy, mineral, with character, toasted.

Mouth: full, long, persistent, tasty


Conde de Aldama Amontillado – 96 points

Cellar: Bodegas Yuste

Appellation: DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

Varieties: 100% palomino

Color: clear mahogany.

Aroma: acetaldehyde, sharp, sweet spices, dried fruits.

Mouth: full, nuances of ageing, spicy, bitter, a little fiery.


Pirata 2014 Blanco – 96 points

WINNER of the Guía Peñín “Best Revelation” wine for 2018 read more here

Cellar: Bodega Benjamín Romeo e Ismael Gozalo

Table wine

Varieties: 50% verdejo, 32% garnacha blanca, 12% viura and 6% malvasía

Color:  bright yellow.

Aroma: ripe fruit, floral, fine lees, mineral, complex with character

Mouth: full, complex, spicy, long, elegant.



Alvear Criadera “A” – 95 points – 5 stars                                                   

Cellar: Alvear

Appellation: DO Montilla-Moriles

Varieties: 100% pedro ximénez

Color: iodine, amber edge.

Aroma: sweet spices, dried fruits, dried herbs, flor yeasts, sharp, acetaldehyde

Mouth: full, spicy, long, complex, good acidity.


Casa Castillo Cuvee N Viñas Viejas 2015 – 95 points

Cellar: Casa Castillo

Appellation: DO Jumilla

Varieties: 100% monastrell

Color: cherry

Aroma: complex, expressive, spicy, mineral

Mouth: elegant, full, long, persistent


El Velado 2014 – 95 points

Cellar: Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez

Appellation: DOCa. Rioja

Varieties: tempranillo and garnacha

Color: cherry, violet edge

Aroma: fruity expression, red fruit, floral, spiced, sweet spices.

Mouth: tasty, fruity, good acidity, long.


Manuel Aragón Premium Palo Cortado – 95 points

Cellar: Manuel Aragón

Appellation: DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

Varieties: palomino

Color: mahogany.

Aroma: complex, fine cacao, sharp, acetaldehyde

Mouth: concentrated, full, long, nuances of ageing.


Mons Urium Vors Palo Cortado – 95 points

Cellar: Bodegas Urium

Appellation: DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

Varieties: palomino

Color: clear mahogany

Aroma: acetaldehyde, dried fruits, sweet spices, joinery

Mouth: potent, balanced, persistent, nuances of ageing.


Vatán Arena 2014 – 95 points

Cellar: Bodegas Ordoñez

Appellation: DO Toro

Color: cherry

Aroma: complex, expressive, spiced, mineral, fine cacao.

Mouth: full, long, persistent, concentrated, structured.

You may also be interested in our article the TOP 10 SPANISH REVELATION WINES 2018 

Distributed in more than twenty countries – with editions in English, German and Spanish – La Guia Peñín wine guide reviewed some 11,500 wines for the 2018 edition, making it the most complete guide to Spanish wines in existence.

La Guia Penin’s 100-point wine-scoring scale is :

95–100 – Exceptional

90–94 – Excellent

80–89 – Very good

70–79 – Acceptable

60–69 – Unremarkable, but not faulty

50–59 – Not recommended.

Vinyes del celler Clos Figures, DOQ Priorat, darrera, el poble del Lloar, Gratallops, Priorat, Tarragona

Join us on a Private Wine Tour to include some of the great Wine Regions of Spain like our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain of Portugal to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.

In October, every year, the Peñin Guide stages the much anticipated El Salón de los Mejores Vinos de España (Salon of the Best Wines in Spain)  in Madrid.  Last year was the 18th edition and over 300 wineries with 1,300 wines from sixty-eight Spanish wine producing regions were united. The wines are divided into categories by points: Vinos del Podio/Podium Wines (95 to 100 points), Vinos Únicos/Unique Wines (93 and 94 points) and Vinos Excelentes/Excellent Wines (90 to 92 points).  This year, organic wines, which have been on the rise in recent years, were also integrated into the selection for the very first time.

One of the most anticipated events every year is the naming of the Guía Peñín “Best Revelation” wine.

A revelation wine is considered as such as it has somehow imposes a change, either in the conception of the variety, the vintage or the processing. It often creates a new category in the market or even dislocates the philosophy of the region somehow. In already consolidated producing areas a revelation wine may have revealed itself through its excellent quality, where to excel in its first appearance in the guide is much more complicated and exceptional.

Whichever road a wine takes to be considered a revelation wine what they all have in common is quality, balance and their native representativeness. What’s more a revelation wine will always awake an interest and provoke surprise in the official Peñín Guide tasters.


WINNER of the Guía Peñín “Best Revelation” wine for 2018: PIRATA 2014

Pirata 2014 is the product of a collaboration between two well-known enologists in the Spanish wine world, Benjamín Romeo (Bodega Contador) and Ismael Gozalo (MicroBio Wines and the co-creator of Ossian).

Benjamín and Ismael join their knowledge and experience to bottle together the La Rioja and Castilian Leon landscapes and the product? Pirata 2014.  Ismael contributes 50% of prefloxeric verdejo from sandy soils with clay accumulated from different soils while Benjamín contributes the other 50% through a blend of three native La Rioja varieties: white grenache, viura and malvasia from common clay-calcareous soils.

Pirata 2014 is an exceptional white wine of a curious blend of coupage, grapes, soils and climates and with less than a thousand bottles being produced in magnum format it is both a revelation and a rarity.

The TOP 10 Spanish wines to watch:

Here are all ten nominees considered for the Guía Peñín “Best Revelation” wines for 2018 with their corresponding Peñín Guide points. Wines to watch, if you will, representing a wide range of styles and Spanish wine producing regions:


  • A Coroa 200 Cestos 2015 (D.O. Valdeorras) from Adega A Coroa – 93 points


  • Amador Medrano Graciano 2016 (D.O.Ca. Rioja) from Bodegas Medrano Irazu – 93 points


  • El Buen Alfarero 2016 (D.O. Ribera del Duero) from Bodegas Pradorey – 93 points


  • Eulogio Pomares 2015 (D.O. Rías Baixas) from Fento Wines – 93 points


  • Fondillón 1996 Fondillón GR (D.O. Alicante) from Bodegas Monóvar – 94 points


  • La Pujada 2014 (D.O.Ca. Priorat) from Saó del Coster – 93 points


  • Pirata 2014 (Vino de Mesa) from Benjamín Romeo and Ismael Gozalo – 96 points


  • Telm Colet 2006 Barrica (D.O. Penedès) from Colet – 93 points


  • UBE Carrascal 2015 (V.T. Cádiz) from Cota 45 – 93 points


  • VO “Cal” 2015 (D.O. Bierzo) from Verónica Ortega – 92 points



Join us on a Private Wine Tour to include some of the great Wine Regions of Spain like our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain of Portugal to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.

celler de capçanes kosher wine tour

The history of Judaism in Spain dates back to Roman times, while some research even suggests that
they may have inhabited the country earlier than the 3rd century. You may not be aware that  Spanish Jews were one of the largest Jewish communities worldwide, living peacefully under both Muslim and Christian rule until the year 1492 when  Isabel and Ferdinand expelled them during the inquisition.

Experience the enduring Jewish heritage that Spain offers, on one of our private tours like our Jewish Heritage Tour of Spain including Barcelona, Girona, Besalu, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid.  Or, you could  combine Spain with Portugal and SW France on the same private tour to discover more of the Iberian Peninsula Jewry, a history which is one of both glory and tragedy.

Currently,  there are approximately 40,000 Jews living in Spain, and of that very healthy percentage, there is clearly a strong contingent of wine aficionados!

Capçanes winery in Montsant, is the very first winery in Spain to produce a Kosher wine in the 20th century, although Kosher wine has been in existence since 636 AD in Israel and may have been in Spain prior to Capçanes innovative move to commence making Kosher wine.

Capçanes dates back to the 19th century and was one of the many victims of the grape vine infection Phylloxera in Spain. Almost totally wiped out and under resourced, it was some time before in 1933 five families joined forces to create the co-operative of Capçanes. Over the years the co-operative grew steadily until 1995 when a Jewish family from Barcelona requested that they make the first Kosher wine in Spain and times truly changed for Capçanes. It meant the installation of new equipment allowing the winemakers to identify, isolate and vinify under controlled “Lo Mebushal” conditions, small parcels of quality fruit.”  Subsequently, the Peraj Ha’abib (Flor de Primavera or Spring Flower) was the wine that placed Capçanes on the map worldwide.

What is Kosher Wine?

  1. According to the practice known as orla, the grapes of new vines cannot be used for winemaking until the fourth year of planting.
  2. No other fruits or vegetables may be grown in between the rows of the vines (kalai hakerem)
  3. After the first harvest, the field must lie fallow every seventh year. Each of these sabbatical years is known as shnat shmita.
  4. From the onset of the harvest, only kosher tools and storage facilities may be used in the winemaking process, and all of the winemaking equipment must be cleaned [sometimes up to 7 times with hot water] to be certain that no foreign objects remain in the equipment or vats.
  5. From the moment the grapes reach the winery, only Sabbath observant [male] Jews are allowed to come in contact with the wine.
  6. All of the materials (e.g. yeasts) used in the production and clarification of the wines must be certified as kosher.
  7. A symbolic amount of wine, representing the tithe (truma vama’aser) once paid to the Temple in Jerusalem must be poured away from the tanks or barrels in which the wine is being made.
  8. A Kosher wine proves to be a challenge to any winemaker. The winemaker may not have any contact with his wine other than through the Rabbi. Which means, that if the winemaker at Capçanes wants to check on his wine, he must ask the Rabbi to come in from Barcelona and take out a sample for him to both see and taste.

Peraj Ha’abib is made with 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Garnatxa Negra and 30% Samsó and aged for 12 months in new and one year old, Kosher French oak barrels. The wine is incredibly dark in color with a fabulous black cherry, chocolate and floral nose, worthy of accolades.

The 16,000 bottles of kosher wine produced each year represent only about 5 percent of Capçanes’ production but attract most of the attention. The wine is exported to the United States and Israel, mostly, but it also finds its way to small Jewish communities in Europe and Mexico.

Capçanes has three extremely knowledgeable winemakers, each of whom is dedicated to a specific area and together they bring their talents to their business. Angel Teixido is the most experienced and is in charge of the vineyard control. Francesc Perello coordinates bottling and wine analysis and Jürgen Wagner composes and styles the blends.

We only have good comments to make about their excellent customer-oriented philosophy, not to mention the superb quality of their wine!

If you would like to learn more about Kosher wines, then why not include a visit while you’re staying in Barcelona to this prestigious winery which produces some of the most well-known Kosher Wines, with a tour of the facilities, followed by a tasting of their best Kosher wines.

We cover many wine regions and you could too on your custom-built tour itinerary with Gourmand Breaks. Here are just some of our Sample Wine Tour Itineraries in Spain, Portugal and SW France.

Located in the Emporda DO Wine Region of Spain, as the name implies, the site of this winery, Terra Remota (Remote Land)  is isolated and secluded, feeling even more so since the devastating fires that destroyed much of this region recently- leaving a path of charcoaled lifelessness in its wake.

Thankfully Terra Remota, in the Emporda DO Wine Region of Spain, was, for the most part, unharmed with only a small plot of vines damaged but learning more about the history behind the Spanish winery it is terrifying to think not only about the possible destruction of the building but also of everything it stands for.

The land here, in the Emporda Wine Region, symbolizes more than just wine production, for the family it stands for identity.  Terra Remota winery is owned by Marc and Emma Bournazeau.  Emma’s grandfather was a man from Catalonia that, after the Spanish Civil war, escaped to France to live in Perpignan. For the family, Terra Remota represents a return from exile and to the land of origin, reclaiming the lost identity of a family.

Terra Remota Winery

The first thing you notice when driving up to Terra Remota is the extraordinary raw concrete “bodega”, which is designed by the Spanish architects Pépe Cortés & Nacho Ferrer and is made up of “Three shoeboxes” nestled into the hillside with the intention of integrating the building into the surrounding landscape- respect for the natural environment is a reoccurring theme here at Terra Remota. The three levels of the structure reflect the three stages the grapes go through from sorting at the top level to bottling, ageing and tasting on the bottom floor, respecting the principle of gravity.

Terra Remota Winery

Every process inside this building is designed to treat the grapes with utmost respect and care.  The key principle at this winery is to avoid excessive manipulation of the original quality of the grape- convinced that the better the raw material the less need for interference.

The idea is that each wine is different and must be treated as such.   The wines “Caminante”, (white) “Caminito” (rosé) and  “Camino” (red), named in homage to Machado’s poem, are the product of respect, and perseverance from the team.

Emporda Wines

Many of guests have thoroughly enjoyed a visit and relaxing picnic in the vineyards at this great Emporda winery!  Join us on a Private Food, Wine and Culinary Tour including the Emporda DO Wine Region of Spain and you too could be visiting this wonderful winery for a private tour and exclusive wine tasting!

Wine from the Spanish Priorat region is not only the most highly regarded in Catalonia—it is some of the best in the world. That is why it has been granted its elite label of D.O.Q., or Qualified Destination of Origin.

Priorat Stamp

Quality Spanish wines are classified using a system based on the “Denominación de Origen” or “DO”, designated origin, which determines where each wine has been produced. Spanish wine laws created the “DO” system in 1932 and it was later revised in 1970. In addition to the “DO” system in Spain there is also the Denominación de Origen Calificada “DOCa” or “DOQ” in Catalan, a status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently only two DOCa/DOQ regions in Spain: Rioja and Priorat.

Perhaps what gives the wine in the Priorat Wine Region of Spain its famous and unique personality are all the extremes in both its climate and beautiful geography. In addition to sharp temperature fluctuations between night and day, this slate-soiled land is full of majestic cliffs and steep hillsides where terraces sometimes have to be built to grow parts of vineyards.

The most planted grape varieties in the Priorat Wine Region of Spain are red ones, with Carinyena (Carignan) and Garnatxa (Grenache) being the most important and recommended native varieties.

The permitted grape varieties of the DOQ Priorat Wine Region of Spain are the following:

  • Red Priorat Grape Varieties: Grenache, Carignan, Hairy Grenache, Tempranillo, Piquepoul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.
  • White Priorat Grape Varieties: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Pedro Ximinez, Chenin Blanc, Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Xarello, Piquepoul


Carignan grapes

Part of the Priorat region overlaps with another highly esteemed region, the Montsant DO, where the Capçanes cellers produce kosher wines in accordance with Jewish tradition in addition to other high quality wines.

Montsant Wine Region of Spain Grape Varieties:

  • Red Montsant Grape Varieties: Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Samsó, Mazuela, Garnacha Tinta, Garnacha Peluda, Merlot, Monastrell, Picapoll  and Syrah
  • White Montsant Grape Varieties: Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Muscat, Parellada, Pansal

Among the most interesting spots in the region is where the Carthusian Priory (or Priorat) of Scala Dei founded its first monastery on the Iberian Peninsula in the 12th century. This site, situated at the foot of the Montsant mountain range, is where the region’s winemaking tradition originated. The society thrived there until 1835 when the church shut the monastery operations down, but the ruins can still be toured through alongside vineyards that are stronger than ever before.

In 1900 an outbreak of phylloxera devastated the region’s vineyards and, as the textile industry was taking off in Catalonia, entire work forces fled to the city to work.  New vines were therefore not planted again, except on a small scale, which fortunately, is what remains today.

Some twenty odd years ago, the Priorat region was on the verge of extinction, with grape prices so low that this was one of Spain’s most impoverished regions. It took a few visionaries to realise Priorat’s potential and most people agree that René Barbier initiated the Priorat revival. In the 1980s he established a co-operative that put its first wine on the market in 1991 and the rest, as they say, is history.

While refining your palate, you may also want to note this region’s production of world-class olive oils, which are also classified into DOs. One of the best olive oils comes from the Priorat town of Siurana, which is set upon a mountain rounded with austere cliffs. As the last Moorish stronghold in Catalonia, this town also comes with its own set of intriguing historical legends.

Priorat wines


If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain!

Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain and Portugal to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.

Some of the wineries you might visit in the Priorat DOQ Wine Region of Spain are:
  • Clos Mogador
  • Costers del Siurana
  • Gratavinum Spanish Winery
  • Mas Blanc Pinord
  • Mas Doix Spanish Winery


More of our Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain:

Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain.

Quality Spanish wines are classified using a system based on the “Denominación de Origen” or “DO”, designated origin, which determines where each wine has been produced. Spanish wine laws created the “DO” system in 1932 and it was later revised in 1970. In addition to the “DO” system in Spain there is also the Denominación de Origen Calificada “DOCa” or “DOQ” in Catalan, a status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently only two DOCa/DOQ regions in Spain: Rioja and Priorat.

Rioja stampLocated partly within the Basque country, Rioja  DOCa  Wine Region of Spain is perhaps best known for red wines and the Tempranillo grape. The Rioja Spanish Wine DO Ca region’s red wines cover many different styles from young wines through to more sophisticated wines which are capable of many years of cellaring – proving the versatility of Tempranillo. Some producers also offer white wines, including some fine barrel-fermented and oak-aged styles and rosés.  The best known of the Spanish wine DO regions, Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa carefully preserves its wine styles but interestingly there are some modern trends which are starting to show through.

Rioja Spanish DOCa wines are mainly aged according to strict specifications and not released until they are considered to be ready to be drunk, which is unique to this part of the wine world. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, the various ageing categories are indicated on the back label of each bottle. With an indication often given of other grapes which may have been utilised in the blend.   For example, Tempranillo is supported by Graciano, Garnacha and Mazuelo depending on the producer and even Cabernet Sauvignon occasionally. More especially in barrel aged wines, this gives Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region wines their very distinctive style.  Not all Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region wines follow the traditional age classifications and indeed some modern types of wines have more focus on a specific vineyard, reflecting the strong interest among producers to offer wines with distinctive local character.

tempranillo grape

The first Spanish Rioja bodegas date from 1870-1890 but the region expanded dramatically and established its reputation at home and abroad during the 20th century. The early years of this century has a new wave of modern architecture appearing on the landscape and also for new cellars many metres under ground.  Wineries/Cellars designed by famous architects such as Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry now stand next to those with an historic background, making Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa region an incredible place to visit for wine, food, spectacular scenery and architecture.

The main towns on Rioja’s wine routes include Haro, Labastida, Cenicero and Elciego, which all have a concentration of wineries with tours and tastings available.

Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa Region Principal Red Grape Varieties: Tempranillo (approximately 80% of all varieties planted), Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo. Other authorised red varieties: Maturana Tinta

Rioja Spanish Wine DOCa Region Principal White Grape Varieties: Viura, Malvasía, Garnacha Blanca. Other authorised white varieties: Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Turruntés, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo

rioja cork

If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain!

Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain of Portugal to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.

Just some of the wineries you might visit in the La Rioja DOCa Wine Region of Spain are:
  • Marques de Murrieta 
  • Miguel Merino
  • Ysios
  • Roda
  • Torre de Oña


More from our Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain:

If you love Wine then don’t miss our series on the Wine Regions of Spain.  Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain, like our previous posts of the Ribera del Duero, Bierzo and Cava DO Wine Regions. New Year is just around the corner, and the sparkling Spanish Wine of Cava will feature in many meals on New Years Eve. The majority of Cava is produced in the Penedès area of Catalonia, a D.O wine region in itself that produces some great Spanish Wines. The Penedès DO Wine Region of Spain spans the provinces of Barcelona and Tarragona in the region of Catalonia.

The DO of Penedès Wine Region of Spain is where Spain’s modern-day wine-making revolution started. By the 1970’s 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.

The Roman influence in the Penedès led to the cultivation of different red varieties, imported by the Phoenicians and Greeks from the Middle East and Egypt. But the real evolution of the vine and the winemaking in the Penedès took place in the 6th Century AD, because the heart of Mediterranean wine culture was centred in the Penedès. The via Augusta, which crossed the Penedès, from the puente del Diablo [Devil’s Bridge] to the Arco de Berà [Arch of Berà] was the centre for the wine selling.

The well placed geographical position of the Penedès converted this land into an important production area, increasing its prestige in time both in the production of white and red wines. Despite the fact that red wines were more highly prized than whites, as happened all over the Mediterranean, it was said that the white wines were the better offer to Bacchus. The production of quality wines continued until the Middle Ages, the Arab invasion was of no benefit to the cultivation of vines in certain areas of the Penedès, but the period of domination was not very long and vines continued to be grown in the region.

A factor which contributed in a decisive manner to the continuation of the vine in Catalonia was the need, from the poorest of parishes to the richest monastery, (basically those of the Cistercian and Benedictine orders) to have wine available for holding mass. The old white varieties that are more acidic were used for distilling and making brandy. One century later, overproduction affected the Penedès and for this reason many varieties were eliminated in order to plant vines of higher quality. The technique used in the distillation process was very similar to that currently in use. The first brandies were distilled in the 14th Century, following the secret formulae of Arnau de vilanova. The varieties were distilled in copper stills and followed a process of ageing over a long period in oak casks.  At the end of the 19th Century, specifically in 1872, the “sparkling wine of the Penedès” came to life. After the catastrophe caused by phylloxera, the renewal of the vines allowed for important evolution, as right from the very start cavas of very high quality were made that in a very short period of time were conquering very large markets. During this century cava has kept up this quality tendency supported by the wine growing sector.

Xarel.lo grapes

White grapes dominate the D.O Penedes 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.

The D.O. Penedès Wine Region of Spain is noted for its excellent white wines, fresh, fruity and with moderate alcohol content, while its reds are soft, with velvety texture and character. The Penedès rosé wines are fragrant and fruity. There are some outstanding sparkling wines, with intense and persistent aromas. The flagship grape variety of this region, which stands out among the 18 authorized varieties, is Xarel.lo making it the icon of the Penedès Denominació d’Origen. The 2010 vintage has been clearly marked by the weather. The rain fall on the 20th August forced an early start to the vintage, making the selection of grapes in the vineyard key to the quality of the wines of the D.O. Penedès the last year. Of one thing wecan be very sure, and that is that the raw materials – the grapes – brought into the cellars during the 2010 harvest were of a very good quality.

Penedes Spanish Wine DO 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)

Penedes Spanish Wine DO Principal red grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Cariñena, Monastrell, Samsó and Merlot. Others: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Syrah


If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain!

Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain like our Wine Lovers Tour of Spain and Portugal to explore the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.


Just some of the wineries you might visit in the Penedes Wine Region of Spain are:

  • Pares Balta
  • Jean Leon
  • MasTinell
  • Mas Comtal


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Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain like our previous posts of the Ribera del Duero and Bierzo DO Wine Regions.

With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, now is the perfect time to introduce some bubbles and the Cava D.O region of Spain. Cava is a sparkling Spanish wine that is permitted to be produced in various wine regions, however the majority is produced in the Penedès area of Catalonia.

Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”. The Cava Denominación de Origen (D.O.) was officially recognized in 1986.

Because of its immense impact on the culture and economy of Catalonia, Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) has its own Destination of Origin (D.O.). Cava comes in four variations: brut, dry, semi-dry and sweet. This celebrative libation—made from Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes—is usually served in a glass flute to highlight the bubbles sparkling upward.

Cava holds a special place in the hearts of Catalans because it represents the viticultural renaissance Catalonia had in the mid-19th century. A phylloxera epidemic had previously wiped out almost all the region’s vineyards—many of which had been growing grapes for centuries. But when the microbiological research of Louis Pasteur was used both to overcome this epidemic and enable control of the second fermentation for sparkling wines, Catalonia’s vineyard culture was revived. The joy of this revival can also be seen in the great care some of the most popular Modernist architects put into new wine cellars, like the one at Codorniu by Puig i Cadafalch.

Cava originated in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia with the research and experimentations of people like the Raventós family, who still own Codorniu cava. Sant Sadurní d’Anoia still produces 75 percent of the 200 million bottles made every year in Catalonia. This is also where Cava Week is held in the beginning of October, complete with a Cava Queen, her speech and a train to tour different cellars.

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia and its surrounding areas in the Penedés region are ideal for cava production because its soils are calcareous and permeable to water while the typical Mediterranean climate offers many sunny days during mild winters and not excessively warm summers.

Cava DO Wine Region of Spain White Grape Varieties: Mostly Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, but in a few areas Chardonnay, Subirat Parent, Malvasia Riojana

Cava DO Wine Region of Spain Rosé Grape Varietes: Garnacha Tinta, Monastrell, Trepat, Pinot Noir


If you love Sparkling Wine you can’t miss the Cava Wine Region of Spain! To learn more about the cava-making process join us on a private wine tour including the Cava DO Wine Region of Spain: Private Luxury Wine Tours


Just some fantastic Cava Wineries in Spain you could be visiting :

  • Agustí Torelló Mata
  • Codorníu
  • Albet i Noya
  • Gramona
  • Segura Viudas


More of our Gourmand Breaks DO the Wine Regions of Spain:

Our Gourmand Breaks DO the Vineyards series is covering some of the great Wine Regions of Spain.

First, and in no particular order, we presented the excellent Ribera del Duero Spanish Wine D.O. Region and now it’s the turn of the young and up and coming Bierzo Spanish Wine D.O. Region.  Located in the autonomous community of Castile and León some exciting Spanish Wines are being produced in the Bierzo DO Wine Region of Spain with the principle Red Grape Variety being Mencía. Do Bierzo

Quality Spanish wines are classified, using a system called the “Denominación de Origen” or “D.O.”, which in English translates as “designated origin”, to determine where they were produced. Spanish wine laws first created the “D.O.” system in 1932 and each “denominación” D.O. has its corresponding regional regulatory council or “Consejo Regulador”.  The Bierzo Denominación de Origen (D.O.) was recognized in 1989.

The young, up and coming, Spanish Wine DO Region of Bierzo, is tucked away in the north western corner of Castile and León, somewhat removed from the main hub of the Duero Valley but still attracts a great deal of interest.

Mencia grapes

 Thanks to the impressive wine making skills of both local Bierzo winemakers and those from other Spanish wine DO regions that have recognized its potential here, Bierzo DO Region red wines, made from the Mencia grape, are developing into something quite exciting. The Mencia vine is comfortable in Bierzo’s Wine DO Region 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. They have a character of their own which brings a welcome diversity to Spanish red wines with their dark chocolate and black fruit flavors which are enhanced by French oak.

The climate and wines of the Bierzo Wine Region of Spain  could be described as a mix between Galicia and Castille.

The Bierzo DO Wine region of Spain covers 22 municipalities, including the largest town of the area, Ponferrada, and an attractive mix of castles, vineyards, pine forests and delightful mountain scenery. The area consists of numerous small valleys in the mountainous part called Alto Bierzo and a wide, flat plain called Bajo Bierzo. The focal point for wine is the market town of Cacabelos, a popular place for pilgrims to rest along the Camino de Santiago.

Bierzo wines
Bierzo DO wines must be elaborated exclusively with the following varieties: Mencía, Garnacha Tintorera, Godello, Doña Blanca and Palomino.

If you love Wine you can’t miss the Wine Regions of Spain!

Join us on a Private Wine Tour of Spain and enjoy expert  guided visits to some fantastic Spanish Wine Regions and wineries and taste some great Spanish wines.


Some Top Bierzo DO winemakers include:

  • Descendientes de J. Palacios –  Villafranca del Bierzo Alvaro Palacios, credited with putting the Priorat Wine region of Spain on the map in the 1990s, along with his nephew Ricardo Pérez, pay respect to their subsequent father and grandfather with this fantastic Bierzo DO Winery. They have completely restored the old stone bodega although their first priorities are the vineyards. Las Lamas, La Faraona and Moncerbal are not only the names of 3 great Bierzo DO Wines but also the vineyards that give the Wine it’s independent and particular character.
  • Dominio Tares – San Román de Bembibre A collective venture uniting various young oenologists with a healthy obsession for old mencia and godello vines to produce the interesting wines of Godello F.B, Baltos, Cepas Viejas, Bembibre and Tares P-3.
  • Prada a Tope – Canedo In the 18th century, the nobility of Canedo had their own vineyards and a cellar storing over 32,000 liters of good wine. Prada A Tope continues with this tradition and recovered the abandoned land and hillsides. Their respect for the land combined with ecological and traditional methods produce authentic wines.
  • Pittacum – Arganza del Bierzo The Terras Gauda Group  acquired Bodegas Pittacum  in 2002 with a clear idea of making quality wines with a mencia marked personality. Quality red wines are produced from the grapes of an ancient vineyard where they are later aged in oak barrels.
  • Paixar – Cacabelos A joint venture between Alejandro Luna, owner of the Luna Beberide winery and Eduardo and Alberto Garcia, sons of Mariano Garcia, one of Spain’s top winemakers – ex winemaker of Vega Sicilia in the Ribera del Duero Wine Region of Spain and founder of the Mauro winery. These young wine-makers focus on the production of a unique expression of Mencia, using Luna Beberide for vinification and a conditioned subterranean bodega in a Palace-house in Villafranca del Bierzo for ageing.
  • Castro Ventoso – Valtuille de Abajo Founded in 1752 by the Perz Family and family-owned ever since. They produce five different Mencía wines; Valtuille, El Castro de Valtuille, El Castro de Valtuille “Joven Mencia”, El Castro de Valtuille “Mencia Selección” and Castro Ventosa Vintage. Their trademark Valtuille wine is made from five plots with pre-phyloxeric vineyards that are located on the only sandy soil found in Bierzo.
  • Bodega del Abad – Carracedelo Inaugurated in June 2003, Bodega del Abad offers modern facilities and technological innovations for the elaboration of its wines, which allow a thorough quality control of the whole process from start to end. Their 100% grape variety wines are represented by the Vinos Abad Dom Bueno range and the Gotín del Risc range, both using 100% Mencia or Godello and the singular Carracedo  – 100% Mencia.


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