Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Northern Wine Regions of Spain

I’ve highlighted many different wine regions of Spain during my wine journey.  Always great value and a wide variety of wines for a wide variety of tastes.  Northern Spain has many great wine regions just waiting to be explored and today we’re featuring the regions of Rias Baixas, Navarra and Carinena. 
wine regions of Spain
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The Navarra Wine Region 
Tucked up near the Pyrenees Mountains the Navarra wine region hosts varying soils and climates with influences from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscayne along with the mountains and the Bardenas Reales desert.   

The Navarra wine region became a DO (Denominacion de Origen) in 1958.  There are 5 subregions within the Navarra.  Tierra Estella, Valdizarbe and Baja Montana features an Atlantic climate that is both cool and humid.  Ribera Alta hosts a continental climate and Ribera Baja is more Mediterranean. All playing a role in different styles of wines produced. 

Some quick facts to give you an overview of what is produced in the Navarra wine region.  It is 90% dominated by red grapes including both red and rose wines leaving 10% to white wines.    Seventy percent of the wines are dedicated to native grapes with tempranillo and garnacha leading the pack.   

The Wines of Navarra 
2018 Bodegas Inurrieta OrchideaI’ve featured this wine in the past featuring the 2017 vintage and this was my pick of the two.  This wine is made from 100% sauvignon blanc.  Pale yellow in the glass with beautiful aromas of citrus and tropical fruits.  Refreshing!  The wine spends 4 months over lees rounding out the wine.  Just a great every day wine at a super affordable price.   ABV 13% SRP $12 

2018 Bodegas Ochoa Calendar Tinto – Another wine I’ve featured as well in the past with the 2015 vintage.  The Ochoa Calendar line features their young wines.  I’m not one for fruit forward style wines, but again, a great value and enjoyable every day wine for many.  Made of 70% organic certified tempranillo grapes with 30% garnacha.  Purplish tinge showing it’s youth this wine.  Ripe and fruity red fruits (strawberry and raspberries) showing from the garnacha with some tannin behind the tempranillo.   ABV 13.5% SRP $12 
Wines of Navarra Bodegas Ochoa Bodegas Inurrieta
The Cariñena Wine Region 
Cariñena is the second oldest DO in Spain starting in 1932.  Located in the northeast of Spain near the Ebro Valley and close proximity to the Pyrenees Mountains.  Another region dominated by red grapes with garnacha making up more than half of the vineyard acreage.   

Three of the largest wineries are cooperatives including Bodegas Paniza, Bodegas San Valero and Grandes Vinos.  Of all the wines I’m sharing today these were my favorites and at unbeatable prices. 

The Wines of Cariñena 
Bodegas San Velero wines of Carinena
2017 Bodegas San Valero Castillo Ducay Blanco – Bodegas San Velero started back in 1944 with about 66 partners and today has over 500 growers on an amazing 8,700 acres.  They have some of the oldest vineyards in Cariñena with some over 100 years old.  The Castillo Ducay is made of 80% macabeo and 20% chardonnay.   Pale straw color with a floral, aromatic nose of stone fruit.  Light to medium bodied, crisp with lively acidity, lemon notes and salinity on the finish.  I found this wine quite enjoyable.  SRP $9 ABV 13%

2017 Bodegas Paniza Syrah – Made of 100% syrah. Deeb ruby more rusty colored near the edges.  Notes of black cherry and baking spices.  Medium to full-bodied, smooth reminding me of cherry cola.  ABV 14.5%

Bodegas San Valero Particular Chardonnay – The “Particular” wines of Bodegas San Valero are only produced in the best vintages and these plots of land were selected for producing their best grapes.  This wine spends about 6-8 hours of cold maceration where the free run juice goes to a settling tank for 12 hours before it spends 3 months in French oak.    SRP $7 ABV 12.5%  

2018 Bodegas Paniza Fabula de Paniza Garnacha Rosé – This coop was established back in 1953 and is comprised of about 400 growers on 6,200 acres of land.  The vineyards are located on hilly terrain near the Iberian Mountains.  I typically don’t find myself drinking rose year round, but I have recently had some including this one that I quite enjoyed.  Made of 100% grenache.  A pretty pale pink color showing brilliantly in the glass.  A tart, wild strawberry on the nose.  Light and delicate on the palette displaying strawberry with nice acidity.  Clean and easy to drink.  SRP $9 ABV 13.5%        
Wines of Bodegas Paniza of Carinena
The Rias Baixas Wine Region 
Granted DO status in 1988 under the EU.  The other two regions have been primarily red, but here white is king and albarino is the star of the show making up about 90% of the plantings.  Rias Baixas is in northwestern Spain in the Galicia region.  It’s also known as “Green Spain” due to it’s abundant green landscape.  Rias Baixas is made up of 5 sub-regions: Val do Salnes, Condado do Tea, O Rosal, Soutomaior and Ribeira do Ulla each with their own styles of albarino.   

2017 Bodega Bouza do Rei Albarino Val do Salnes
2017 Bodega Bouza do Rei Albarino Val do SalnesLocated in the Val do Salnes.  This winery was one of the first of the Rias Baixas DO established in 1984.  A brilliant straw yellow in the glass with a fragrant nose of tropical fruits and green apple.  Dry and light bodied with good acidity.  Fresh showing grapefruit, apple and citrus.  Clean and refreshing.  SRP $16 ABV 13% 
2018 Bodegas Eidosela Ethereo Albarino2018 Bodegas Eidosela Ethereo Albarino Located in the Condado do Tea region this is a warmer region lending more tropicality to wines.  Bodegas Eidosela was started in 2003 by a group of growers on over 100 acres.  The name Eisoela comes from the combination of the district and parish (Eidos and Sela) where their facilities are located.  It is located near the largest river in Galicia, the Mino river.  This wine was straw colored with a floral nose of peaches.  On the palatte it’s clearn with a glycerin feel showing lime and melon.  ABV 12.5% SRP $18 

The Ribera & Rueda del Duero Wine Region 
The Ribera and Rueda wine region is located a couple hours north of Madrid.  Located nearby the Duero River within the Castilla e Leon region.  The Rueda DO was established in 1980 and was the first in Spain to be solely focused on whites featuring the verdejo grape, Spain’s most planted grape.  It was quite interested to learn the dirunal shifts in temperatures here as much as 50 degrees a day.  The grapes are harvested at night to preserve the freshness and acidity. 

Ribera, on the other hand, is primarily red featuring mostly the tempranillo grape, known locally as tinto fino.  This part of the region also faces extreme climate changes and hosts many old vines with 1/3 of the vines aged over 50+ years old.     

The Wines of Rueda 
2016 Bodegas Shaya Verdejo – Located in the southeast part of the appellation and home to many old vines.  This wine is made of 100% verdejo with 20 of the wine aged 4 months in French oak barrels.  This wine shows aromas and notes of peach, apple with some tropical and citrus notes.  SRP $13 ABV 13.5% 

2016 Bodegas Menade Verdejo – Run by the 5th generation siblings of the Sanz family.  This is their only bottle under the DO Rueda designation as they believe in following their own path.  I always appreciate a winery looking to experiment and produce the types of wine they desire than those dictated by regulations.  Straw colored with some golden hues.  The nose shows ripe pineapple and melon along with some toasty notes.  Zesty acidity with more tropical notes on the palette.  Fresh. SRP $18 ABV 13% 

2018 Herederos del Marques de RiscalMy favorite from Rueda in these samples, this producer is well known in the Rioja region of Spain whom moved their white wine production to the Rueda in the 1970’s.  This wine was straw colored showing more tropicality, pineapple and wet slate.  Refreshing and clean with solid acidity.  Lemon and grapefruit citrus notes with good length. SRP $13 ABV 13%
Wines of Rueda verdejo grapes

If you’re a lover of Spanish wines what are some of your favorite grapes or regions? 


*These wines were provided as samples, but wine selections and opinions are all my own. 

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