Spanish White Grape Varieties

Airén (Lairén)

The Airén grape, also known as Lairén in southern Spain, is the single most planted vine variety in the world due mainly to it's unusually low vine density. Part of the Airén grape's fame is due to Franco's influence. During his dictatorship, in order to quell poverty, France offered Spain's citizens a deal; if they produced brandy, they would purchase it. Due to its high sugar levels and large yields, Airén grapes were widely used for this brandy. Today, Spain produces approximately 1500 vines per hector.. The Airén grape vine is primarily planted in La Mancha and Valdepeñas and able to withstand the vast and severe temperatures in these regions and can also live successfully through long droughts. The notoriety the Airén grape vine has received for both it's durability and incredibly high yield has allowed it to occupy almost a third of all Spanish vineyards. Traditionally, other than for brandy, the Airén grape has been vinified as a white wine producing heavy wines distinguished by oxidation. Now, using stainless steel equipment, computer-controlled harvesting and temperature controlled fermentation, the Airén grape creates crisp, slightly neutral dry white wines marked for early consumption.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Albariño

The Albariño grape is the primary grape used to make dry white wine in the Rias Baixes section of Galicia which is considered to be Spain's premier quality white wine. Albariño grape is also known in Portugal as Alvarinho and often used as a component of Vinho Verde. Weather conditions in the Rias Baixes are generally cool, windy and rainy and the Albariño grape vines are trained high and open to allow winds to dry them out and avoid the ongoing threat of rot, mildew and other fungal diseases. Notably, Albariño grapes develop thick skins here, contributing to their intense aromas. Typically, wines made from the Albariño grape are very aromatic, often described as having scents of almonds or almond paste, apples, peaches, citrus, and flowers or grass.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Chardonnay

The Chardonnay grape variety is of French origin. Chardonnay grape clusters are small and cylindrical, while the berries are small and very spherical. It is a vigorous plant that buds very early and produces low yields. The Chardonnay grape adapts to diverse terrain types and climates, provided they are not very wet. It is very resistant to chlorosis. Chardonnay grapes are harvested early or very early to produce wines with a low alcohol content that are used to make sparkling wines. Chardonnay wines have personality and medium to high alcohol content and are refined and harmonic. Chardonnay grapes may be used to make vintage wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Garnacha Blanca

The Garnacha Blanca grape is an abundant variety in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula and in the Western Pyrenees, where it is also known as Grenache Blanc and Silla Blanc. It adapts best to warm and relatively dry climates. The Garnacha Blanca grape originated in northeastern Spain in the regions of Priorat, Terra Alta and Rioja and to this day, more than half of the world's production is grown in its native country. Yellow hues predominate in the Garnacha Blanca grape variety and it gives mature fruit on a fern background that confer upon it great personality.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Gewürstraminer

The Gewürstraminer grape is cultivated in Spain in the upper Penedès area and it is one of the few aromatic white varieties that provide intense and distinctive scented wines. The Gewürstraminer grape's primary aroma, before vinification, develops into great aromatic splendor after fermentation.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Godello

The Godello grape is a Spanish vine varietal and is native to El Bierzo Wine D.O. Region and Galicia and in particular the areas surrounding the Sil River. The Godello grape has bunches of average size and density. The Godello grapes are medium in size and with a yellowish-green color; they are of high quality and very aromatic. Godello produces balanced wines with an alcoholic content of around 12.5% and pale yellow color; clear fruity and floral aromas (apple). Wines made from the Godello grape possess the capacity to age well.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Gros Manseng

The Gros Manseng grape is one clone of the Manseng grape, the other is the Petit Manseng grape. Usually grown around the western regions of the Pyrenees area of southwest France, but also in Spanish Txacoli Wine D.O. Region, the Gros Manseng grape is used for producing both dry and sweet white wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Hondarribi Zuri (Petit Corbu)

The Txacoli (Chacolí) wines of the Basque Country share one white grape in common - the Hondarribi Zuri grape - which accounts for over 80% of plantings. To ensure adequate drainage, the vineyards of the Hondarribi Zuri grape are often situated on slopes and sometimes they are trained on pergolas, especially if they are close to the coast. Wines made from Hondarribi Zuri grapes 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. The Hondarribi Zuri grape produces a crisp, light wine with a hint of green apple and sometimes a little spritz. Apart from the 3 Chacolí DOs these grapes are not grown anywhere else in the world and very little seems to be known about them. The name of Hondarribi Zuri is quite likely to have originated from the Basque town of Hondarribia.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Loureira

Part of the Galician family of grapes, along with Albariño and Treixadura, the Loureira grape is an aromatic variety and typically wines made from the Loureira grape are richer than Albariño with attractive peachy fruit. It is usually found in blends rather than alone. Loureira is a very old grape variety yet is largely responsible for the success of white vinho verde in Portugal in recent years. Aromatically exuberant, the Loureira grape (along with Moscatel) is considered the most perfumed of grapes, evoking bay leaf, lime tree, acacia, orange and peach. In blends with other regional grapes, the Loureira grapes' exceptional aromatic qualities construct some of the best white wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Macabeu (Viura, Alcañon)

The Macabeu grape is a large, very compact, golden-yellow, round grape with a fine skin and a white pulp. The Macabeu grape is a vigorous variety and produces good yields in fertile and luxuriant soils. It is sensitive to diseases caused by fungi (mildew, powdery mildew, and Botrytis). The Macabeu grape has a moderate alcohol content, particularly when yields are high and is recommended for making dry wines and bases for sparkling wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Malvasia

The Malvasia grape is a Mediterranean variety, cultivated in the coastal Penedès, near Sitges. Producing white, sweet and fine grapes, the Malvasia grape produces fresh and aromatic wines, but is also suitable for sweet and aged wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Maturana Blanca

The Maturana Blanca grape, also known as the Ribadavia grape, is grown in the Rioja region of Spain. It is, in fact, the first documented grape in la Rioja and recently local wineries have pioneered a project to resurrect this variety and return it to its former glory. Low yielding in comparison to the widely planted Viura, Maturana Blanca has a more aromatic style and picks up the minerality inherent to la Rioja area beautifully. The Maturana Blanca grape is currently used to create complex white wines of high alcohol content. The wines made from the Maturana Blanca grape are un-oaked in style, but packed full of fresh citrus and stone-fruit character and have a long round finish.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Merseguera

The Merseguera grape is a white Spanish wine grape variety grown primarily in Valencia, but is also grown in Tarragona, Alicante, Utiel-Requena and Yecla. The Merseguera grape produces a low alcohol content wine, zingy thirst-quenching, fresh and uncomplicated. It is a common grape used for everyday wines in Spain. The Marseguera grape wines are usually neutral dry white wines, that go well with the traditional seafood meals in the port city of Valencia.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Moscatel

The Moscatel grape, which is also known as Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat d'Alsace and Moscato d'Asti, was loved by Greeks and Romans. The Moscatel grape is a remarkably sensuous grape with a subtle orange perfume. The Moscatel grape's high sugar content makes it a great producer of dessert wines.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Moscatell d'Alexandria

The ancient variety of Moscatel d'Alexandria is grown throughout the world's winemakers areas. Although the Moscatel d'Alexandria grapes are large and loose, they are sensitive to blossom drop. Moscatel d'Alexandria is a great variety with a lot of potential uses: it may be used for winemaking and for producing juices, raisings and grapes for eating. In winemaking the Moscatel d'Alexandria grape is mainly used to make natural sweet wines and liquor wines, some of which are dry. Moscatel d'Alexandria grapes are highly perfumed and have a very characteristic aromatic nature, by which the variety can be recognized. Mediterranean wine culture is chiefly associated with Moscatel d'Alexandria grapes.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Moscatel de Grano Menudo

The Moscatel de Grano Menudo grape has a big aromatic power and high sugar levels. Bunches of Moscatel de Grano Menudo are medium-sized and quite compact; the grapes are small, in the shape of ellipse and amber coloured. The Moscatel de Grano Menudo grape is used to make late harvested sweet wines and dry white wines. Considered to be one of the most special varieties, Moscatel de Grano Menudo has been grown in Navarra for centuries and is dedicated to the production of barrel-aged sweet wines. The Moscatel de Grano Menudo grape vine is grown on poor grounds with an excellent exposure to the sun, creating a special micro-climate to reach over maturation.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Palomino

The Palomino grape is a native of Spain and used in the production of fine sherries. Palomino is a variety that is used especially for the dry light Fino sherries and which thrives on the "albariza", the chalk soils. In Spain, the Palomino grape is split into the sub-varieties Palomino Fino, Palomino Basto and Palomino de Jerez, of which Palomino Fino is by far the most important, being the principal grape used in the manufacture of sherry. The wine formed by fermentation the Palomino grape is low in both acidity and sugar which, whilst suitable for sherry, ensures that any table wine made from it is of a consistently low quality, unless aided by acidification. The Palomino grape was supposedly named after one of King Alfonso X's most trusted knights and has become the grape of the sherry region. The Palomino grape likes warm, dry soils and is abundant producing masses of richly sweet grapes with lowish acidity.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Parellada

The Parellada grape is large and compact, with a thick skin and a greenish-yellow pulp. It is late in ripening, sensitive to drought and fairly sensitive to botrytis and mildew. The Parellada grape is best when grown at altitudes of over 450 meters above sea level. The Parellada grape produces wines that have a low alcohol content yet a high aromatic quality, mainly in cooler areas. The Parellada grape vine is very productive and produces a high quality grape which is one of the basic varieties used to make cava and thrives in Tarragona, Conca de Barberá, Costers del Segre, and Penedès.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Pedro Ximénez

The Pedro Ximénez grape is the queen of the Montilla-Moriles Denomination of Origin. Legend has it that Pedro Ximénez originated in the Canary Islands before being taken to the Rhine. Then the grape came to Jerez in the baggage of a soldier called Pedro Ximénez (or Pedro Siemens or Pedro Ximen), serving in the navy of Charles V in the Spanish Netherlands. It seems unlikely that a grape that so likes warm weather would have done well so far north, and no current Rhine grape resembles the Spanish Pedro Ximénez grape, so the story is probably apocryphal.The PX grape is extremely rich in natural sugars, which means that the wines naturally reach a strength of up to 15º, without needing any alcohol to be added to increase its strength. The Pedro Ximenez is an early grape and due to the high temperature of the summer in the southern part of Spain, the harvest takes place at the end of August or beginning of September, one month before the rest of Spain. The Pedro Ximénez grape is thin skinned and produces smooth, sweet wines, famous worldwide.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Petit Manseng

Petit Manseng is grown for its floral fruit flavours along with high acidity and is increasing in popularity in France, California and the Txacoli DO region in Spain. The Petit Manseng grape is smaller berried than Gros Manseng and is responsible for the shrivelled berries needed to make top quality Jurancon and Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Moelleux in South West France. Thanks to its thick skin, the Petit Manseng grape yields relatively little juice and perhaps that is why the resulting wine can seem so packed with tangy, verdant flavours. Like Tannat, the variety was taken to Uruguay by Basques in the 19th century. The Petit Manseng sweet wines are most often made by allowing the grapes to dry on the vine to a semi-raisin state, 'tasserellage' rather than using botrytis.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Picapoll blanc

The Picapoll Blanc grape variety is grown solely in the Pla de Bages area of Northern Spain. Picapoll Blanc grapes vines are late budding and have a semi-wilted appearance that produce medium-sized and rather compact clusters. Picapoll Blanc grapes produce unique, well-structured wines with a fair alcohol content and a spicy bouquet that may be matured in oak. The Pla de Bages D.O. is likewise a manifestation of the Picapoll Blanc grape uniqueness.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Planta Fina

The Planta Fina grape variety is grown in Valencia Wine D.O. Region. It is also known as Planta Fina de Pedralba. The Planta Fina grape produces a light, aromatic wine. The Planta Fina vine is nowadays very little extended, but very well adapted to the Mediterranean climate.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Riesling

Found in upper Penedès, the Riesling grape is one of the few varieties with a characteristic primary aroma, that can be noticed even before vinification. Wines made from the Riesling variety are fragrant, very fruity, with a fresh dry body.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc grape variety was originally from La Gironde in France, but is now grown all over the world. It is a very small, compact grape with a spherical shape and a greenish yellow color. The Sauvignon Blanc grape has a consistent pulp and an intense bouquet. The Sauvignon Blanc grape is very aromatic and well-adapted to warm, temperate climates; it buds early and is resistant to the cold.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Tardana

The Tardana grape is native to the Spanish Utiel-Requena Wine D.O. Region and is also called Planta Nova or Coma. The Tardana grape ripens late and has a tough skin that prolongs its life. The Tardana grape variety produces pale, golden-yellow toned white wines with distinct and intense fruity aromas (pineapple, apple, and so on). In the mouth, the Tardana grape wines from Utiel-Requena Wine D.O. Region are fresh and balanced, well-structured, and persistent.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Tempranillo Blanco

In 1988, Jesús Galilea Esteban found a cluster of white grapes on one of the Tempranillo vines in his vineyard, Murillo de Rio Leza, located in Rioja. He removed the cluster, leaving a heel which in turn produced two buds of white grapes. Galilea then contacted the Rioja government agency CIDA, who grafted the buds at their research station in February 1989. CIDA concluded that apart from the leaves and fruit being a little smaller, the new plants were identical to normal Tempranillo in most respects and confirmed this with DNA evidence. The most notable difference was that the grape skins were green-yellow rather than the usual blue-black, due to a natural mutation in a single skin colour gene. The white Tempranillo grape reproduces asexually through the one unique sarmentum and multiplication. Both Tempranillo grapes share identical leaves, clusters and grape form, as well as the short ripening cycles and sensitivity to pests and diseases. The early ripening cycles makes possible the Tempranillo blanco grapes cultivation in any subzone of the Rioja Wine D.O. Region since the entire cycle can be completed even in the zones where ripening occurs later. Although Tempranillo Blanco has many clusters, they are small and of medium weight. The first bottling of Tempranillo Blanco grape wine was in 2005, from a hectare of vines planted in 2000 and was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in oak barrels. The green-tinged wine of the Tempranillo Blanco grape has discreet aromas of flowers and tropical fruit such as pineapple.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Torrontés

The Torrontés grape is an intriguing white wine varietal of considerable character that can be found on the plains in the Wine DO region of Ribeiro, Galicia, in northwest Spain. The Spanish Torrontés grape is light and fragrant, with aromatics that are similar in style and weight to Muscat and Gewürtztraminer, yet the Torrontés grape has a high natural acidity which is a commodity in the long Spanish growing season. Yellow apples, lychee, white and purple flowers, spices, and tropical fruits are all common flavor descriptors of Torrontés. The Torrontés grape frequently takes on a surname of the region, such as Torrontés Riojano and Torrontés Sanjuanino.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Treixadura

The lightly scented Treixadura grape can be found most often in Galicia in Northern Spain. Typically, the Treixadura grape is blended with other grapes such as Albariño, Lado or Torrontés depending on where it is grown. However, the Treixadura grape can also stand alone producing light bodied wines with citrus flavors and aromas.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Turruntés

The Turruntés grape is a variety which has been in Spanish la Rioja Wine D.O. Region since 1847, mainly in the towns of Labastida, Abalos and San Vicente de la Sonsierra. This variety was very nearly lost in la Rioja, but some growers have worked hard to recuperate it. As a result, the Turruntés grape has been authorized in La Rioja Wine DO region since January 2007. This grape is thought to have no genetic connection to Torrontés. The wines made from the Turruntés grape have high-pitched stone fruit aromas and firm fruited volume, spice and depth on the palate.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Verdejo

The Verdejo grape is a variety that has long been grown in the Rueda Wine D.O. Region of Spain. The grape originated in North Africa and was spread to Rueda in about the 11th Century, possibly by Mozarabs. The Verdejo grape was generally used to make a strongly sherry-like wine. In the 1970s the winemaking company Marqués de Riscal began to develop a fresher style of white wine based on the Verdejo grape with the help of French Oenologist Emile Peynaud. In 1980 white wines from the Rueda region were recognized by a Denomination of Origin. Wines labelled Rueda must contain 50% Verdejo grape; the remainder is typically Sauvignon Blanc or Macabeo. Wines designated "Rueda Verdejo" must contain 85% Verdejo grape and are often 100% Verdejo. The Verdejo grapes are generally harvested at night, which means that the grapes enter the cellar at the lower night-time temperature of between 10-15 C instead of the daytime temperature which in September can reach as high as 28 or 30 C. Lower temperatures means less oxidation, or browning of the juice. Verdejo grape wines are aromatic, often soft and full bodied.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Viognier

The origin of the Viognier grape is unknown, but it is presumed to be an ancient grape and one legend states that the Roman Emperor Probus brought the Viognier vine to France in 281 AD. In Spain it is mainly cultivated in the Teruel area. The origin of the name Viognier is also obscure. In 1965, the grape was almost extinct when there were only eight acres in Northern Rhône producing only 1900 liters of wine. The Viognier grape vine is poor-yielding and notoriously fickle to grow, being susceptible to a whole gamut of pests and diseases. Crucially it must be picked at optimum ripeness - if harvested too early and under-ripe the resulting wine can be thin, dilute and unbalanced, while if picked too late then the wine will lack the grape's distinctive peach and honeysuckle.

Spanish White Grape Varieties

Xarel·lo (Pansá)

The Xarel.lo grape is an aromatic variety which has special importance in the Catalan cava-producing regions of El Penedès and Alella, where it is known as Pansá. Xarel.lo is fairly sensitive to powdery mildew and to mildew, but in the right conditions it can produce good yields. This grape adapts well to most soils up to an altitude of 400 meters. Xarel.lo grape clusters are medium-sized and not very compact. The Xarel.lo grape produces a well-structured, balanced wine that has a rather strong body and is slightly acidic. The Xarel.lo grape is recommended for the production of dry wines and produces wine with a medium to high alcohol content. The Xarel.lo grape is very suitable for the production of vintage wines.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Bobal

The Bobal grape is native to the Utiel-Requena Wine DO Region in Valencia. The name of the Bobal grape derives from the Latin bovale, in reference to the shape of a bull's head. The Bobal grape is grown predominantly in the Utiel-Requena DO where it represents about 90% of all vines grown, and is also present in significant quantities in Valencia, Cuenca and Albacete. The Bobal grape vine is very vigorous and highly productive, has a natural semi-erect posture, with long, strong, trailing shoots, which makes it a difficult vine to work in the summer, however, these same shoots often completely cover the ground thus helping to conserve moisture during the hot summers. The Bobal grape is perfectly adapted to the local climate and so is resistant to extremes of weather and diseases; the pulp is colourless and meaty and the hard skin of the round medium-sized berries is intensely and brightly coloured, the smell of the Bobal grape is fresh, original and fragrant. The average bunch of the Bobal grape is of medium-large size, compact, with an irregular cone shape and the must is normally high in colorants and tannins and is suitable both for aging and for coupage with other varieties. Wines produced from the Bobal grape are generally described as herbaceous on the nose while fruit flavours dominate the palate.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is originally from Bordeaux, the berries of this grape are small and have a very intense color. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is quite a vigorous late budding variety, with rather erect foliage and medium internodes. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine is susceptible to powdery mildew, but adapts to both cold and warm climates and grows best in dry or well-ventilated areas. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine does not take to excessively fertile or wet soils, but adapts well to diverse pruning methods that befit the climate and soil conditions. The Cabernet Sauvignon grape production is regular and constant and ripens in the third period of growth.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Caiño Tinto

The Caiño Tinto grape is a Galician variety that is also grown in Portugal’s Vinho Verde wine region where it is known as Borraçal. In Spain the Caiño Tinto grape is a permitted variety in the Wine DO Regions of Rias Baixas and Ribeiro, where it produces highly perfumed wines with noticeable tartness and high acidity. The nobility of the Caiño Tinto grape provides wine with a singular floral and acid characteristic.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Cariñena (Mazuelo or Samsó)

The Cariñena grape variety is typical of the semi-arid zones of Catalonia and Aragon in Spain. The Cariñena grape, which produces robust and balanced wines, is an excellent complement to the Garnacha grape. The Cariñena grape produces wines which, in such conditions, easily reach a fair alcohol content. The cluster of the Cariñena grape vine is medium-sized, conical and compact and produces high yields on a regular basis. This grape is mid-season budding and very sensitive to powdery mildew. The Cariñena grape is grown widely in the Catalan regions of Costers del Segre, Penedès, Tarragona and Terra Alta.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Espadeiro

The Espadeiro grape is planted primarily in the Minho region of Portugal and is used to make Vinho Verde. However, the Espadeiro grape is also grown across the border, in Galician Rias Baixas Wine D.O. Region, where it is used to make light bodied wines. Rather than being a single grape variety, there are several variants in the Espadeiro family of grapes, including Espadeiro Tinto and Espadeiro Mole with partially overlapping synonyms. The nobility of the Espadeiro grape provides wine with a singular floral and acid characteristic.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Garnacha

The Garnacha grape, known elsewhere as Grenache, evolved in Aragon (north-eastern Spain) and thrives in hot, dry climates. The Garnacha grape is the world's second most abundant red variety and is Spain's most widely planted grape, where it is an important component of the Rioja wines. The Garnacha grape vine buds early and needs a long season to ripen, tending to make light-coloured wines, high in alcohol, with rich, peppery fruit and spicy cinnamon notes. Garnacha is low in acidity and tannin and is often used as a blending component. Consequently, despite its abundance, it is surprisingly rarely encountered as a single varietal. Although Garnacha rarely gets centre stage, when it is grown at low yields and in suitable terroirs, it has the capacity to produce profound long-lived wines, which is best illustrated in the Priorat region. Over centuries, the Garnacha grape vine has produced mutation vines with berries with a range of colors.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Garnacha Tinta (Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Fina, Lledoner Negre)

The Garnacha Tinta grape variety is found mainly in the winemaking areas of southern Catalonia (Terra Alta, Priorat, Tarragona) but is also grown in the Empordá region. Garnacha Tinta grape berries are dark reddish violet, spherical and have a thick skin and sweet taste. The Garnacha Tinta grape is a vigorous early budding variety with robust shoots and short internodes which adapts well to diverse areas. The Garnacha Tinta grape vine can be trained in different shapes provided it is given space and long but not very light pruning. Yields of the Garnacha Tinta grape are good and constant and it is mid-season ripening.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Garnacha Peluda

The Garnacha Peluda grape is a variant of the Garnacha grape so-called because the underside of the leaves have a hairy ("peluda") appearance. This variant also provides a lower alcohol content and color when used in winemaking. Garnacha Peluda is cultivated in Alella, Priorato and Terra Alta Spanish Wine D.O. Regions.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Graciano (Parraleta)

The Graciano grape ( also known as Parraleta) is grown primarily in la Rioja Wine D.O. Region. The vine of the Graciano grape produces a low yield that is normally harvested in late October. The Graciano grape thrives in warm, arid climates and is normally found only in small quantities in a blend, adding colour and acidity. However, there are now many examples of single variety Gracianos which are producing highly prized wines. Young Graciano grape wines are very tannic, rough and tart, but develop superbly during ageing, both in cask and bottle. For this reason, the Graciano grapes are frequently present in Gran Reservas.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Hondarribi Beltza

The Hondarribi Beltza grape is used to make Txacoli wines in the Basque country. Traditionally, the Hondarribi Beltza vineyards were settled facing the sea and following the Spanish grapevine system, taking for granted that that orientation and system were the most suitable. However, it was not taken into account that solar irradiation in the Basque Country was lower than in other traditional wine-production areas in Spain, and the rain was higher than the Spanish average. This is why the decision was taken to plant the Hondarribi Beltza vineyards facing south and following the high trellis system. Land, climate, the Hondarribi Beltza grape itself and also the combination of tradition and innovation in its careful elaboration, offer as a result a young yet with character type of wine, dry but fresh, light but fruity and persistent and slightly sparkling.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Malbec

One of the traditional "Bordeaux varietals", the Malbec grape, also cultivated in Northern Spain, has characteristics that fall somewhere between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A mid-season ripener, the Malbec grape can bring very deep color, ample tannin and a particular plum-like flavor component to add complexity to wine blends. Sensitivity to frost and proclivity to shatter and colure are the primary reasons why the Malbec grape has become a decreasing factor in most of France. The Malbec grape is also grown in Mediterranean regions and was the grape responsible for the "black wine of Cahors" - a legendary name, if not wine in the 19th Century. However, Cahors is now made from a blend of grapes and is an infinitely superior wine to its predecessor.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Manseng Noir

The Manseng Noir grape is a variety of Basque origins, but which is now very little used. Manseng Noir is deep in colour and tannic. Like Pinot Noir and Muscat, the Manseng Noir grape mutates easily and has spawned several additional grape varieties that are being used in wine production, most notably Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Maturana Tinta

The Maturana Tinta grape is a minor local variety from la Rioja, which is not a mutation of Maturana Blanca grape and is treated as a distinct variety. The Maturana Tinta grape was found in a vineyard in Badarán and in 2007, Rioja regulators approved the use of Maturana Tinta grapes, together with other new varieties of grapes, enabling greater complexity in its wines while maintaining its identity and heritage. The other native minority varieties approved were Maturano (also known as Maturana Parda) and Monastel.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Mencía

The Mencía grape is a variety primarily found in the northwestern part of Spain. It is planted on over 9,100 hectares (22,000 acres) and is primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras Wine DO regions. Most wines produced from the Mencía grape have traditionally been light, pale, relatively fragrant red wines for early consumption. This style of wine was the result of post Phylloxera plantations on fertile plains, which tended to give high yields but diluted wine. In recent years, much more concentrated and complex wines have been produced by a new generation of winemakers, primarily from old vines of the Mencia grape growing on hillsides, often on schist soils, in combination with careful vineyard management. This has led to a renewed interest in the Mencía grape and the DO's using it, such as Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and the little known Liébana. Since the 1990s, the Mencia grape has been increasing in popularity, and an increasing number of noted Spanish winemakers are now working with the Mencia grape.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Merlot

The Merlot grape vine is a medium-vigor early budding plant with normal, short internode shoots and balanced foliage with a cluster which is semi-pyramidal and winged. The Merlot grape vine may be trained and pruned using different methods and is therefore easily grown with medium pruning. The planting pattern of the Merlot grape vine may also vary to suit the environment and particularly the fertility of the soil. The Merlot grape produces medium yields, resists disease well and is harvested in the second period of growth.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Monastrell

The Monastrell grape is sweet and productive and yields wines with a deep color and medium to high alcohol content. The Monastrell grape is grown widely in the Costers del Segre and Penedès regions of Catalonia.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Moristel

The Moristel grape is a minor Spanish red grape variety indigenous to the Pyrenees, specifically the Somontano Wine D.O. region. The Moristel grape has medium sized, compact bunches with medium sized, cylindical shaped, berries with a blue hue. Traditionally the Moristel grape has been used for blending with other varieties to add body and colour to the wine.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Pedral

The Pedral grape is a high quality Spanish red grape variety, which is also grown in Portugal and known as Padral, Cainho dos Milagres, Cainho Espanhol (Monção), Castelão (Amarante), Pegudo or Perna de Perdiz (Ponte de Lima), Pardal (Castelo de Paiva) and Cainho. In more recent years autochthonous grapes that were about disappearing were reclaimed (brancellao, sousón, caiño, castañal and pedral) and grown in stony and south-facing soils. Wines made from the Pedral grape had almost vanished, but are not yet forgotten.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Petit Verdot

The Petit Verdot grape is a variety principally used in classic blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties, often too late, so it fell out of favour in its home region of Bordeaux. When it does ripen, it is added in small amounts to add tannin, colour and flavour to the blend. When young the Petit Verdot grape wine aromas have been likened to banana and pencil shavings. Strong tones of violet and leather develop as it matures.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir grape is one of the most refined, elegant international varieties, originally from Burgundy. The berries of the Pinor Noir grape vine are small, dark violet and coated in an abundant bloom. The skin is thick and the pulp is soft. The cluster of the Pinot Noir grape is very small, cylindrical, compact, normally with one more obvious wing, and a short, thick flower stem. The vine produces a medium yield, but although it adapts to different soils, it grows better if they are neither excessively fertile or wet. The Pinot Noir grape prefers cold or temperate climates and good exposure. The Pinot Noir grape is picked quite early and harvests are sometimes brought forward to produce base wines for sparkling wines.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Syrah

The Syrah grape is an eastern variety which is very well adapted to the Mediterranean area. The Syrah grape is sensitive to drought, powdery mildew and botrytis, but adapts well to both granitic and clay calcareous soils. The Syrah grape is easy to grow, but a difficult grape with which to make quality wines. Yields of the Syrah grape must be controlled while the concentration of aromas in winemaking must be preserved. The fermentation period of the Syrah grape should be long, the temperature requires strict control and the wine must be matured in oak casks. The cluster of the Syrah grape is medium-sized, compact and cylindrical. Budding and ripening of the Syrah grape are mid-season. The Syrah grape provides medium and not very constant yields. Long pruning is required for the Syrah grape to bear fruit. The must of the Syrah grape has a high tannin content.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino)

The Tempranillo grape variety is typical of many regions of Spain, because of its superb quality and aroma. The Tempranillo grape is vigorous and has a semi-erect appearance. The cluster of this grape vine is medium-sized, compact, long and winged. The Tempranillo grape adapts to any soil although it produces the highest quality musts when grown in sunny areas. Tempranillo is not very sensitive to spring frosts but is fairly sensitive to powdery mildew. The grape is mid-budding and ripens in mid-September producing medium yields.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Tinta de Toro

The Tinta de Toro grape is an alias for Tempranillo when grown in the Toro DO region of Spain. This is the autochthonous variety par excellence and hardly any information is available regarding its origins. It is thought that the Romans (210 B.C.) were the true promoters of viticulture in the Duero basin, after having invaded the Vacceo territory and destroying the town in its entirety under the command of the Carthaginian general Hannibal. After the phyloxera had come to Spain in 1870, vine growing was greatly reconverted, and it is in the Toro Wine D.O. Region where the Tinta de Toro grape variety anchored its roots in loose well-drained sandy lands, and multiplication of the ungrafted vineyards has been conserved to this very day. The Tinto de Toro grape is one which gives a great colour to its wine and an exquisite bouquet, with fruity aromas.

Spanish Red Grape Varieties

Trepat

The Trepat grape is a native variety of the La Conca de Barberá DO Region, but is also found grown in Costers del Segre. The Trepat grape vine is early budding and sensitive to spring frosts. The Trepat grape is not very sensitive to cryptogamic diseases but it is to chlorosis in calcareous soils. The Trepat grape yields very characteristic wines with a fair degree of acidity and medium alcohol content and is used to make rosé wines and base wines for highly unique widely acknowledged cavas, which enabled Conca de Barberá D.O. to adopt the Trepat grape as a defining characteristic.