Last Updated on June 12, 2024

Those of us wine lovers are aware that Spain is a stalwart in the global wine industry, ranking third in global production. The country is currently witnessing a transformative era reshaping its vinicultural landscape.

While renowned for its classic Tempranillo-based Riojas and Albariño whites (my favorite white), a new generation of innovative winemakers is bringing fresh excitement to Spain’s wine scene.  

Lotte Karolina Gabrovits, a wine expert from VinoVoss, offers her insight into this burgeoning movement and introduces us to five must-try Spanish wines. Gabrovits is also an experienced wine educator, consultant and international judge.

Branching Out from the Classics

Tempranillo-based Riojas from the Ribera del Duero region and crisp Albariño whites from Rías Baixas have long been the most well-known Spanish classics. These days, up-and-coming small-scale winemakers are branching out (or should we say, vining out) in their grape selections and production methods.

In the past, Spain’s exports were dominated by the largest producers, such as Bodegas Campo Viejo. A new generation of winemakers, part of the viñateros (Spanish for “wine grower”) movement, are unsatisfied with the region’s reliance on well-known cultivars, particularly Garnacha and the national grape of Spain, Tempranillo.

Lesser-Known Appellations Burst onto the Wine Scene

The result is an explosion of grape diversity and winemaker experimentation across Spain’s rolling, vine-covered hills. The region is seeing rapid growth in the prevalence of appellations out of lesser-known Denominación de Origen Protegida wine regions, from Bizkaiko Txakolina and Ribeira Sacra in Spain’s northern latitudes. to Méntrida and Cebreros of central Spain, Bullas in the south, and Valle de la Oratava of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara.

The sparkling wine scene is also being set a-bubble by a shift from the Cava region’s Champagne-like creations to Corpinnat sparklers from the Penedès region. Their production is strictly defined as using 100% organic indigenous grapes, hand-picked and manually processed from start to finish on-premises.

An impressive crowd received a firsthand look at this exciting expansion at the recent eponymously titled Viñateros event, held in February 2024 at Lindley Hall in Victoria, London. Back for its third round since its founding in 2017, Viñateros is a showcase of Spanish wines hosted by UK importers. Roughly 500 distinct wines were poured in celebration of indigenous grapes, regenerative farming, and the revival of ancient winemaking traditions. In addition to Tempranillo and Garnacha, some 80 different grape varieties went into the making of the uncorked vintages.

Good news is in store for wine aficionados and Hispanophiles across the pond – American wine importer Eric Solomon of European Cellars has plans in the works to bring an American version of Viñateros to the U.S. within the next two years. The exact location and date of this rumored event has yet to be announced.

Five must-try Spanish wines include:

Red and white Spanish wines.
Red and white Spanish wines. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Gramona La Cuvée Corpinnat

Leaving behind the Cava designation to join the Corpinnat (“heart of Penedès”) sparkling wine criteria, Gramona is doing things the organic and biodynamic way. This fizzy bottle is a blend of Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Chardonnay, and Parellada grapes.

Itsasmendi Artizar

Sustainability-focused Itsasmendi stands out for its commitment to micro production and experimentation. This unique white, inspired by the Bizkaiko Txakolina style, is made from Hondarrabi Zuri, Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratie, and Lore Makala cultivars.

Carlos Serres Tempranillo Old Vines

This wine is an updated revival of traditional Tempranillo. Using a non-interventionist approach with open-top fermenters, extended oak aging, and old-growth grape vines, the winery behind this bottle is upping the ante on Spanish classics.

César Márquez Pico Ferreira

César Márquez is Spain’s only winery boasting its very own beekeeping program, helping promote the region’s biodiversity and sustainability. This spicy red is made predominantly from Mencía grapes.

Terroir Al Límit Soc. Lda Torroja

Terroir Al Límit hails from the Priorat winemaking region, and has been led by Dominik Huber since 2001. This fruity wine is composed of the grape varieties Cariñena and Garnacha.

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