Wine was cultivated already in 4,000 BC in Spain, but only when the Phoenicians had founded the city Cádiz, and when the Romans and the Carthaginians had started trading in the Mediterranean area, viniculture began to boom. As the Romans loved to use the Spanish wine as provisions for the Roman soldiers, they carried it to the Bretagne, the Normandy and to England. But growing wine was not promoted anymore when the Arabs had conquered Spain in 711 AD. As soon as the Christians reconquered Spain, wine-growing flourished again. In the 19th century blight and vine pest destroyed the cultivation areas, and during the Spanish civil wars and the World Wars viniculture could not recover much.
After the year 1950 wine-growing revived, but then mainly table wines were produced. Only thirty years later, the production gradually switched to quality wines. By now, vine is grown on an area of 1.2 million hectares.
In 2003 the Spanish parliament decided on a new wine law, i.e. the responsibility for the quality regulations, for the individual cultivation areas and for checking the compliance with all laws is distributed to two institutions and not anymore duty of merely one.
There is now the possibility within superior table wines to mark cask stored wines with labels similar to the hierarchy of quality wines. The highest quality rank will denote wines from isolated vineyards in future.
The Spanish wine law distinguishes between:
– Denominación de Origen (DO)
Quality wines from different cultivation areas
– Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa)
Eligible quality wines
– Vino de la Tierra (VdIT)
Superior table wines without DO-status
– Vino de Mesa (VdM)
The Spanish wine denomination:
The wines are only released when they are mature. The system of age indication presents the age of the wine on the label.
Joven: 1 year
Crianza: 2 years
Reserva: 3 years
Gran Reserva: 5 years
The climate in Spain offers everything from subtropical to long and harsh winters. The atlantic climate in the north of Spain is moderate and relatively moist. In the middle of the country the climate is predominantly continental with sunny, hot and dry summers and cold winters. The south is extremely hot and dry due to the atlantic and mediterranean climate.
The variety of grapes in Spain is vast. It is estimated to comprise about 600 kinds.
Main reds are Garnacha, Tempranillo, Carinena, Graciano, Tinta de Toro, Mencía, Monastrell, Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Main whites are Airén, Albarino, Verdejo, Viura, Palomina, Moscatel, Malvasia, Merseguere, Xarel-Io, Pedro Ximénez, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo, Parellada, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.