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Spain takes wine seriously. Examine the classifications of Spanish wine to help you
make a selection.

Wines in Spain are classified regionally (Roja, Navarra, Penedès), but in addition are classified by the
time they have been ages in both oak barrels and bottles. The aging requirements given are are the
minimum only. Many bodegas exceed this minimum. You will find the region and aging
classification on the label.

Spanish Wine Aging Classification

Wines from Spain are classified based on aging time. The below classification most often
applies to red wines. The classification changes with each region but is generally the
following:

Joven / Cosecha: It translates to mean young. No minimum aging is required in barrel and most
only have bottle aging. They are released the following year after the harvest. They show fresh, fruit
flavors and are perfect for immediate consumption

Regional Name
A wine named after the region it is from with no specific aging classification, Spain's simplest
classification of wine. Wines in this category are immediately available for sale.

Vino de Crianza
This term is applied to both red and white quality wines. Before release a red wine must age a
minimum of two years, of which at least six months must be in oak barrels. Although select Crianza
wines can age after release, most are meant to be consumed upon release.

Vino de Reserva
This term is applied to quality red wines that have undergone a minimum aging period of three years.
At least one of those years the wine must be in oak casks, followed by a minimum of two years in the
bottle. Wines of this classification often posses more complexity and oak influence than Crianza
wines.

Vino de Gran Reserva


This term is applied to quality red wines from excellent vintages that have been aged at least two
years in oak barrels and three years in the bottle. º   wines have traditionally been
considered Spain's finest wines.

There is some debate about the amount of time Spanish wines are aged in oak. Higher classifications
are given to wines aged for extended periods of time. The classification implies higher quality.
Wineries can than charge higher prices for their wines. Many wineries believe that this extended
aging can diminish the quality of certain wines. They are then caught with producing a higher quality
wine that receives a lower classification. This then hurts their reputation. The result has been wines
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left to age and become overoaked. Some new producers in Spain are choosing to disregard these
requirements in attempt to produce the best possible wine.

ÿld wine; Old wines aged for a minimum of 36 months.

Aged wine (Añejo3 Old wines aged for a minimum of 24 months.

  ality wine (Noble); Old wines aged for a minimum of 12 months.

Spain is a hot, dry, mountainous country with more vineyard land than any other nation on earth. It
ranks third in the world in wine production, after France and Italy.

Spanish wine has awakened from a long period of dormancy and underachievement. Spain is now one
of the wine world¶s most vibrant arenas. For decades, only Spain¶s most famous red wine region,
Rioja, and the classic fortified wine region, Sherry, had any international presence for fine wines.
Now, many other wine regions in Spain are making seriously good wines.

The following regions (mapped in the figure below) are an important part of the wine quality picture
in Spain today, and their wines are generally available:

c RiojaÀcin north-central Spain, has historically been the country¶s major red wine region.
Three-quarters of Rioja¶s wine is red, 15 percent rosado (rosé), and 10 percent white. The
principal grape in Rioja is Tempranillo, Spain¶s greatest red variety. But regulations permit
another three varieties for reds ² Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano (Carignan), and Mazuelo
² and red Rioja wine is typically a blend of two or more varieties.

c Ribera del D eroÀctwo hours north of Madrid by auto, is one of Spain¶s most dynamic
wine regions. Perhaps nowhere else in the world does the Tempranillo grape variety reach
such heights, making wines with body, deep color, and finesse.

c riorato,cmountainous and inaccessible, and one of the world¶s hot new regions for red
wine, is north of the city of Tarragona, in northeast Spain. Amazingly rich, powerful red wines
made primarily from Garnacha and Carignan, two of Spain¶s native varieties ² have emerged
from the harsh landscape of this region.

c enedéscis in Catalonia, south of Barcelona. It¶s the home of most Spanish sparkling
wines, known as Cava. Penedés is also a large producer of both red and white wines.

c Rías Baixascregion of Galicia, in northwest Spain next to the Atlantic Ocean and
Portugal, is gaining acclaim for its exciting white wine, Albariño, made from the Albariño
grape variety.
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c NavarraÀcan area just northeast of Rioja that is long known for its dry rosé wines, is an
increasingly strong red wine region. Navarra's red wines are similar to, but somewhat less
expensive than, the more famous wines of Rioja.

c aoroÀcin northwest Spain, west of Ribera del Duero, is quickly emerging as one of Spain¶s
best red wine regions. Toro's climate and soil are ideal for making powerful, tannic red wines
mainly from the Tempranillo grape variety.

c R edaÀc west of Ribera del Duero, produces one of Spain¶s best white wines from the
Verdejo grape. The wine is clean and fresh, has good fruit character, and is inexpensive.

Wine regions

Main article: Spanish wine regions

Spain has a relatively large number of distinct wine-producing regions, more than half having the
classification Denominación de Origen (DO) with the majority of the remainder classified as Vinos de
la Tierra (VdlT). There are two regions nominated as Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) -
Rioja and Priorato - the flagship regions of Spanish winemaking.While most make both red and white
wine, some wine regions are more dominated by one style than the other.
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uiticulture

In many Spanish wine regions, such as Galicia, vines are widely spaced in the vineyard.Viticulture in
Spain has developed in adaptation to the varied and extreme climate of the region. The dry weather in
many parts of Spain reduces the threat of common viticultural hazards like downy mildew and
powdery mildew as well as the development of Botrytis cinerea. In these parts, the threat of drought
and the poor fertility of the land has encouraged Spanish vineyard owners to plant their vines with
widely spaced so that there is less competition between vines for resources. One widely adopted
system is known as marco real and involves having 8 feet (2.5 m) of space between vines in all
directions. These areas, mostly in the south and central regions, have some of the lowest vine density
in the world²often ranging between 375-650 vines per acre (900-1600 vines per hectare). This is less
than 1/8th of the vine density commonly found in other wine regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Many Spanish vineyards are several decades old, with the old vines producing even lower yields of
fruit. In the Jumilla region of Castile-La Mancha, for example, yields are often less than 1.1 ton and
acre (20 hl/ha).

In the 1990s, the use of irrigation became more popular after droughts in 1994 and 1995 severely
reduced the harvest in those years. In 1996, the practice of using irrigation in all Spanish wine regions
was legalized with many regions quickly adopting the practice. In the Toledo province, Australian
flying winemakers helped to popularize the use of underground drip irrigation to minimize the effects
of evaporation. The widespread use of irrigation has encouraged higher density of vine plantings and
has contributed to higher yields in some parts of Spain.

While traditionally Spanish vineyards would harvest their grapes by hand, the modernization of the
Spanish wine industry has seen increased use of mechanical harvesting. In years past, most harvesting
had to be done in the early morning with wineries often refusing grapes after mid-day due to their
prolonged exposure to the blistering heat. In recent years, aided in part by the wider spread of the use
of mechanical harvesting, more harvests are now being done in the cooler temperatures at night.

ºrape varieties

Tempranillo is the second most widely planted grape in Spain and is an important grape in the Rioja,
Ribera del Duero and Penedès regions. Some records estimate that over 600 grape varieties are
planted throughout Spain but 80% of the country's wine production is focused on only 20 grape
varieties. The most widely planted grape is the white wine grape Airén, prized for its hardiness and
resistance to drop. It is found throughout central Spain and for many years served as the base for
Spanish brandy. Wines made from this grape can be very alcoholic and prone to oxidation. The red
wine grape Tempranillo is the second most widely planted grape variety, recently eclipsing Garnacha
in plantings in 2004. It is known throughout Spain under a variety of synonyms that may appear on
Spanish wine labels-including Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Ull de Llebre. Both Tempranillo and
Garnacha are used to make the full-bodied red wines associated with the Rioja, Ribera del Duero and
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Penedès with Garnacha being the main grape of the Priorat region. In the Levante region, Monastrell
and Bobal have significant plantings, being used for both dark red wines and dry rosé.

In the northwest, the white wine varieties of Albariño and Verdejo are popular plantings in the Rías
Baixas and Rueda respectively. In the Cava producing regions of Catalonia and elsewhere in Spain,
the principal grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo are used for sparkling wine production as
well as still white wines. In the southern Sherry and Malaga producing regions of Andalucia, the
principal grapes are Palomino and Pedro Ximénez. As the Spanish wine industry becomes more
modern, there has been a larger presence of international grape varieties appearing in both blends and
varietal forms-most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon blanc.
Other Spanish grape varieties that have significant plantings include Cariñena, Godello, Graciano,
Mencia, Loureira, and Treixadura.

Winemaking

xtended periods of aging in American oak has long been associated with Spanish wine from regions
like the Rioja.In Spain, winemakers often use the Spanish word elaborar (to elaborate) rather than
fabricar (to produce/make) when describing the Spanish winemaking philosophy. This relates to the
view that the winemaker acts as more of a nurturer of the grapes and wine rather than as a producer.
For many years, Spanish winemaking was very rustic and steeped in tradition. This included the
judicious use of oak with some wines, even whites, spending as much as two decades ageing in the
barrel. This created distinctly identifiable flavors that were internationally associated with the wines
from regions such as the Rioja.In the 19th century, wine writers held negative views about Spanish
winemaking. Richard Ford noted in 1846 that the Spanish made wine in an "unscientific and careless
manner" while Cyrus Redding noted in his work the History and Description of Modern wines that
Spanish gave "rude treatment" to the grapes. Some of these criticisms were rooted in the traditional
manners of winemaking that the were employed in Spain. Crushing and fermentation would take
place in earthenware jars known as tinajas. Afterwards the wine was stored in wooden barrels or pig
skin bags lined with resin known as cueros.In the warmer climate and regions of lower elevation, the
red wines tilted towards being too high in alcohol and too low in acidity. The standard technique to
rectify those wines was the addition of white wine grapes which balanced the acidity but diluted some
of the fruit flavors of the red grapes.

The advent of temperature control stainless steel fermentation tanks radically changed the wine
industry in warm climate regions like Andalucia, La Mancha and the Levante, allowing winemakers
to make fresher and fruitier styles of wine-particularly whites. While many producers focused on
these crisp, fresh styles in the early 1990s there was a resurgence in more active use of barrel
fermenting whites as a throwback to the traditional, more oxidized styles of the 19th century. The use
of oak has a long tradition in Spanish winemaking, dating back even centuries before the French
introduced the small 59 gallon (225 liter) barrica style barrels. Gradually Spanish winemakers in the
late 19th and early 20th century started to develop a preference for the cheaper, and more strongly
flavored, American oak. Winemakers in regions like the Rioja found that the Tempranillo grape, in
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particular, responded well to new American oak. In the 1990s, more winemakers started to rediscover
the use of French oak and some wineries will use a combination of both as a blend. Most DOs require
some minimum period of barrel ageing which will be stipulated on the wine label by the designations-
Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva depending on how long it spends in the barrel. The tradition of
long barrel and bottle ageing has meant that most Spanish wines are ready to drink once they hit the
market. A new generation of winemakers have started to produce more vino joven (young wines) that
are released with very little ageing.

Sherry

A glass of Amontillado Sherry.Sherry is a fortified wine produced in southern Spain around the towns
of Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and l Puerto de Santa María. In the 1990s, the uropean Union
restricted the use of name "Sherry" to the wine made from this region. It mostly made from the
Palomino grape, accounting for nearly 95% of the region's plantings, but Moscatel and Pedro
Ximenez can also be used. While the wine is ageing in the barrel, a naturally occurring yeast native to
the region, known as flor, will develop and distinguish certain styles of Sherry. The flor needs fresh
wine in order to survive and is added by the use of a solera system that also gradually blends the
wines of different vintages together. Palomino wine, by itself, typically ferments to an alcohol level of
around 12% with Sherry producers adding brandy to the wine in order to increase the alcohol level or
kill the flor yeast which will not thrive in alcohol levels above 16%.

Sherry has many categories:

‡Fino Sherry is a very light and delicate Sherry. These wines are characterized by flor. It often
contains 15 to 18% of alcohol.

‡Manzanilla Sherry comes from the Sanlucar district along the sea coast. The sea air leads the Sherry
to develop a salty taste. These wines also have flor. This wine is produced using exactly the same
process than Fino, but as weather conditions are very different in Sanlucar district it develops into a
slightly different kind of wine. It often contains 15 to 19% of alcohol.

‡Amontillado Sherry is similar to Fino. However, it does not have as much flor development.It is
deeper in colour and drier than Fino and is left in the barrel longer. It often contains 16 to 22% of
alcohol.

‡Oloroso Sherry is deeper/darker in color and has more residual sugar. It is more fortified, and often
contains 17 to 22% of alcohol.

‡Cream Sherry is very rich and can be a good dessert-style wine. It often contains 15.5 to 22% of
alcohol.

‡Pedro Ximénez Sherry is very rich and is a popular dessert-style wine. It's made from raisins of
Pedro Ximenez grapes dried in the sun. It often contains around 18% of alcohol.
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‡Palo Cortado Sherry is very rare, as it is an Oloroso wine that ages in a different, natural way not
achievable by human intervention. It often contains 17 to 22% of alcohol.

Cava

Xarel·lo is one of the principal grapes of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava.Cava is a Spanish sparkling
wine made in the traditional method of the French sparkling wine Champagne. The definition of Cava
is Vino spumoso de Calidad Producido en una Región Determinada (VCPRD). It originated in the
Catalonia region at the Codorníu Winery in the late 19th century. The wine was originally known as
Champaña until Spanish producers officially adopted the term "Cava" (cellar) in 1970 in reference to
the underground cellars in which the wines ferment and age in the bottle. The early Cava industry was
nurtured by the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th that caused the destruction and uprooting of
vineyards planted with red grape varieties. Inspired by the success of Champagne, Codorníu and
others encouraged vineyard owners to replant with white grape varieties like Macabeo, Parellada and
Xarel·lo to use for sparkling wine production. These grapes are still the primary grapes of Cava today
though some producers are experimenting with the use of the Champagne wine grapes of Chardonnay
and Pinot noir.

For most of existence, the production of Cava was not regulated to a particular region of DO but
rather to the grapes and method of production. Upon Spain's acceptance into the uropean Union in
1986, efforts were undertaken to designate specific areas for Cava production. Today use of the term
"Cava" is restricted to production around select municipalities in Catalonia, Aragon, Castile and León,
Valencia, xtremadura, Navarra, Basque Country and Rioja. Around 95% of Spain's total Cava
production is from Catalonia with the village of Sant Sadurní d'Anoia being home to many of Spain's
largest production houses.

c £  cWhitec

c a  Redc

c £  Wineryc

c Ô
  c c    ëcThe vintage yearc

c ’
  cWines produced in the better vintagesc

c º  
  cWines produced only in exceptional vintagesc

Spain¶s wine laws, like Italy¶s, provide for a bi-level QWPSR category: Denominaciónes de Origen
(DO) and a higher classification, Denominaciónes de Origen Calificada (DOC), the latter created in
1991. So far, Rioja and Priorato are the only two regions that have been awarded the DOC (also
known as DOCa). Wines that do not qualify as DO fall into the table wine category Vino de la Tierra
(equivalent to the French Vin de Pays).
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What follows is a slightly preposterous, impractical journey around all the DOs on the Spanish
mainland (you'll see the wine regions in the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, as well, if you zoom
out or scroll around), from its most famous wine region nowadays, Rioja, to its most famous region of
all times, Sherry. Spain's wine regions are legion and growing in number (a first look at the map
shows how evenly spread throughout the country Spain's wine regions are, but we shall soon see
patterns forming). Though essentially bureaucratic in nature, the "traditional" wine regional unit has
long been the denominación de origen, denomination or designation of origin, the Spanish equivalent
of the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, and although new regional divisions are emerging,
notably the Vinos de la Tierra which correspond to larger scale geographical and political areas than
most denominaciones de origen, DOs are still the most readily understandable reference points and
are those I shall use in the description of the map of Spanish wine regions above.

Rioja. Spanish wine's superstar regions are undoubtedly Sherry, in the province of Cádiz, and Rioja
(corresponding to most of the province of La Rioja, plus the Rioja Alavesa in the south of the Basque
Country). You will find Sherry towards the southern tip of the peninsula, labelled with a yellow
marker), and Rioja to the east of Burgos or south of Vitoria-Gasteiz, tagged with a purple marker.
Let's begin there. Rioja the wine region overflows from La Rioja the province, which contains the two
subzones of the Rioja Alta (capital Haro) and Rioja Baja (capital Logroño, which is also the capital of
the province and autonomous community of La Rioja), into the Rioja Alavesa in the Basque Province
of Álava. Rioja is essentially the most French of Spanish wine regions, its preeminence being due to
desperate French vintners seeking alternative supplies when the Phylloxera epidemic devastated
French vineyards in the second half of the nineteenth century (in contrast, Sherry is the most nglish
Spanish wine region, as we shall see). Rioja has a history of careful, scientific wine-making, of highly
skilled sumillleres and enologists working together over years and decades to make beautifully crafted
wines, brews which these days have little to envy in their Gallic counterparts.

The Duero and Castilla-León. Not far from Rioja, though, is Duruelo de la Sierra, in the province of
Soria, the place where the River Duero has its source (I have labelled it with a blue "pin" marker).
From there, the Duero flows west across Old Castile, present-day Castile and Leon, and the first wine
region it flows through, Ribera del Duero, has reached heights very nearly as great as Rioja. It doesn't
stop there, though, for the Duero is the Iberian Peninsula's greatest wine river, and the high-altitude
region of Castilla-León, with its harsh, continental climate (relentlessly baking, dry summers, bitterly
cold winters, and almost no spring or autumn), contains some of Spain's most important DOs (and a
couple of interesting minor ones). As well as Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro and Cigales are well
established names in the Spanish wine firmament, and new DOs include Arlanza (in the province of
Burgos), Tierra del Vino de Zamora, and Arribes del Duero (in the province of Salamanca). Tierra de
León is a different kettle of fish, off the Duero route, though also ancient wine- making country. And
as you head from León towards Galicia, you find the market garden area of Bierzo or l Bierzo,
where very fine, sometime top-quality wine is made. And as we are next to Galicia, let's go in.
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Galicia. At first sight, the number of DOs in green, rainy Galicia surprises, but it is typical of the
region to find microclimates, many fairly arid. And most of the region's viticulture takes place inland.
Galicia's traditional wines are white, though market demands mean perfectly good reds and,
especially, rosés, are also made there. Galicia's most inland province, Ourense or Orense, has four
DOs: Monterrei in the south, Valdeorras (about which great praise is heard) in the north-east, the very
lovely Ribeira Sacra region in the north (overlapping with the south of the province of Lugo), and
Ribeiro in the west. Though not the best of these four, Ribeiro is your Galician's wine, what he will
ask for when he is in an alien, foreign place (e.g., Madrid) and feels the Celtic nostalgia, longing for
things lost, called morriña - it is the Galician form of the Portuguese saudade, for Galicians and
Portuguese are brothers, much more so than Galicians and Castilians. The last Galician DO is Rías
Baixas in the province of Pontevedra, and it is the most surprising of them all, for its Atlantic , rainy
climate seems to be no impediment to its production of fine, sometimes fabulous wine, especially but
by no means exclusively white wine. Let's take a look at what the rest of the north of Spain has to
offer wine lovers.

The Basque Country. Wine-making is absent from Cantabria and Asturias (though they have other
attractions), so the next wine-tour stop for us is the Basque Country, known for a particularly
interesting, usually white wine: Txacoli (alternative spelling and pronunciation Chacolí). It is made in
all three Basque provinces (Vizcaya, Guipúzcpoa and Álava), but is most typical of Vizcaya. The
Guipuzcoan version - Chacolí de Guetaria-Guetariako-Txakolina - is only produced in the area of
Getaria, a fishing port-turned-tourist centre where visitors flock to the fish restaurants, the meal,
naturally, being accompanied by Chacolí. Apart from this, Chacolí is more suitable as an aperitif, and
Basques themselves will almost inevitably accompany a meat dish with a Rioja or Ribera del Duero.
But Txakoli is a Basque sign of identity, like Guiness to an Irsihman. Now, let's step back west a little
to the Cantabrian mountains, for there we find the source of the immense River bro.

The bro, Navarre and Aragón. Not so much as the Duero, but the bro, the longest and largest river
in Spain, is also very important in viticultural terms. You'll find the source of the bro on the map in a
tiny place called Fontibre in the Campoo region of the Cantabrian mountains in the north of Spain (I
have labelled it on the map with a blue "pin" marker). From there, it flows south-east out of Cantabria,
clips through Old Castile at Miranda del bro, crosses La Rioja, makes a brief acquaintance with
Navarre, then flows majestically across Aragón, totally conditioning its geography, especially that of
the province of Zaragoza, before emptying into the Mediterranean through the bro Delta in the south
of the province of Tarragona. Along the way, it is lined on either side with wine regions, beginning,
yet again, with Rioja. At varying distances from the bro but all influenced by it, there follow
Navarra, and the typically Aragonese DOs Campo de Borja, Calatayud, and the excellent Cariñena.
And while we are in Aragón, let's take a minute to examine its only non-bro DO, Somontano in
Huesca, one of Spain's fastest rising wine regions (and number one on an unscientific classification I
have made myself).

Catalonia. With its wine regions in the various sierras overlooking the Mediterranean, the region of
Catalonia in the north-east corner of Spain is another superpower in the Spanish wine world, as is
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shown by the awe in which the Priorat region in the province of Tarragona is held. Other DOs in
Tarragona are Terra Alta, Montsant, Tarragona, and the Catalonia-wide Catalunya, but special
mention must be made of the DO Conca de Barberà, almost inevitably included in lists of Spanish
"wines-to-watch." Neighbouring Barcelona province is less profusely endowed with wine regions, but
has a couple of the biggest names in Spanish wine - Penedès and Cava. Cava is actually not regionally
specific, some being made in Aragón, for example, but most of it comes from the Penedès region
(which is also a particularly attractive area, and enotourism is an obvious choice for visitors there).
Alella is a long established wine region and the newish (1995), inland Pla de Bages is another name to
keep an eye on. Catalonia's northernmost province Girona, is not really a wine producer to speak of,
though the mpordà region (formerly Ampurdán-Costa Brava) has a certain interest.

Levante. South of Catalonia is the Spanish Levante, the east-facing lands of the Catalan-speaking
Valencia region and Murcia. The province of Castellón is negligible in wine terms, which is more
than compensated for by its southern neighbour, the province of Valencia, the hills of which harbour
wine regions of great interest, beginning with the double-barrelled Utiel-Requena in the north, and
going on to the three sub-zones which make up the Valencia DO. And while Alicante has but a single
wine DO, Murcia has three, all first-rate: Bullas, Yecla and, especially, Jumilla.

Castile-La Mancha. Jumilla overlaps the provinces of Murcia and Albacete, which takes us nicely into
the region of Castilla -La Mancha (the southern meseta), for Albacete has historically been considered
part of the Levante region. Albacete has another two wine DOs, both new (as such) - Manchuela and
Pago Guijoso, about which I am afraid I know nothing. North of Albacete is the province of Cuenca,
again with two DOs, again new - Ribera del Júcar in the south and Uclés in the north-west. From
there, it is a hop north into the province of Guadalajara, which has a single, new DO, Mondéjar. And
while we are in Castile-La Mancha, let's cross over the regional border into the autonomous
community of Madrid which, whatever the political boundaries say, belongs to New Castile. Vinos de
Madrid has three sub-zones, all to the south of the city of Madrid itself, that of Arganda del Rey
producing the best results. A step over the border takes us back into Castilla-La Mancha, into the
province of Toledo, which has two DOs, the new Dominio de Valdepusa and Méntrida, where wines
of startling excellence are occasionally produced. But it is neighbouring Ciudad Real which is almost
the Spanish wine province par excellence, for it is the centre of the vast plain which is La Mancha,
Don Quijote country.

La Mancha. True, this is a land of cereals, enormous fields of wheat, barley or rye, but it is also a
historic wine region, with over 300 wineries included in the denominación de origen. DO La Mancha
spreads out from Ciudad Real into Albacete, Cuenca and Toledo to make not just the largest wine
region in Spain but in the entire world, nearly 750 square miles of it. To give you an idea, DO Rioja
(which also spreads out beyond the borders of La Rioja itself) covers only just over 245 square miles.
The whole of Greater London would fit into La Rioja comfortably. It is big. Much La Mancha wine is
very ordinary, it must be said, but the many exceptions compensate for this. In the south of Ciudad
Real, though, the wines made in the Valdepeñas region continue to disappoint, especially when you
fail to specify Rioja or Ribera del Duero when you order a vino tinto in Madrid - the Valdepeñas you
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will be served will, most probably, be simply dreadful. So now, like the reconquistadores of the
Middle Ages, we shall head south from New Castile towards Andalusia.

Andalusia and xtremadura. To find the only DO in the entire region of xtremadura, Ribera del
Guadiana, straddling the provinces of Cáceres and Badajoz, we have to approach the border with
Portugal. Ribera del Guadiana doesn't produce particularly outstanding wine, but is an attractive area
and would be another possibility for enotourism enthusiasts. Andalusia, though its DOs are
comparatively few for the size of the region, is more rewarding for wine lovers. In the north of
Andalusia, Jaén lacks a wine DO, while the province of Córdoba has a single DO, Montilla-Moriles,
but it is a great one, and being relatively unknown outside Spain is even more of a pleasure to
discover. It makes top-quality, sherry-type wines, but don't think that these are imitations, on the
contrary - the Pedro Ximénez's produced here are matchless. The provinces of Sevilla, Granada and
Almería have no wine DOs, but in the south of Andalusia, the previously separate DOs of Málaga and
Sierras de Málaga have now, sensibly, been merged (though perhaps you should be aware that they
are different kinds of wine, Málaga being especially famous for its dessert wines, long out of fashion
but which seem to be enjoying a slight upsurge in popularity). West from there takes us into Cádiz,
the glory of which (for the purposes of this page) is the Sherry region, around Jeréz de la Frontera.
Before we look at the Sherry region in depth, we'll glance a few miles north up the Costa de la Luz, at
Condado de Huelva, where sherry-type wines are made. They are not very impressive, to be honest,
but most enjoyable in situ (especially combined with the local seafood, which some would die for).

Sherry.The regulatory boards of the two DOs of Jeréz-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de


Barrameda (marked separately on the map) have recently been merged into the intimidatingly named
Jeréz-Xérès-Sherry y Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a wholly logical fusion, though again you
might like to remember their slightly different origins. The fact that vino de Jeréz is better known in
the world as sherry speaks volumes, for the nglish connection with this region goes back centuries.
Vino de Jeréz or sherry wine owes much of its identity to the fact that it has been made for
consumption overseas. The reason for the fortification process, for example, is to protect the wine
from the violent movements involved in being carried as ship's cargo, and in turn this fortification is
the explanation for the fact that sherry does not follow the añada system of identifying wine by
vintage or year - sherry is made to be the same every year. Sherry is not currently as fashionable as it
has been at certain times, but this barely affects its quality, and its different types - fino, manzanilla,
amontillado, oloroso, palo cortado, or the various kinds of sweet sherry which are less often
encountered in Spain itself - are as good now as they were in, say, 1968, and will be in 2048.

Spanish classification of wine

Classification

Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised
in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée
(AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's
Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.[1] As of 2009, there were 77 Quality Wine
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areas across Spain.[7] In addition there is Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa or DOQ in
Catalan) status for DOs that have a consistent track record for quality. There are currently two
DOCa/DOQ regions: Rioja and Priorat. ach DO has a Consejo Regulador, which acts as a governing
control body that enforces the DO regulations and standards involving viticultural and winemaking
practices. These regulations govern everything from the types of grapes that are permitted to be
planted, the maximum yields that can be harvested, the minimum length of time that the wine must be
aged and what type of information is required to appear on the wine label. Wineries that are seeking to
have their wine sold under DO or DOC status must submit their wines to the Consejo Regulador
laboratory and tasting panel for testing and evaluation. Wines that have been granted DO/DOC status
will feature the regional stamp of the Consejo Regulador on the label.

Following Spain's acceptance into the uropean Union, Spanish wine laws were brought in line to be
more consistent with other uropean systems. One development was a five-tier classification system
that is administered by each autonomous region. Non-autonomous areas or wine regions whose
boundaries overlap with other autonomous communities (such as Cava, Rioja and Jumilla) are
administered by the Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origen (INDO) based in Madrid. The
five-tier classifications, starting from the bottom, include:

‡uino de Mesa (udM3 - These are wines that are the equivalent of most country's table wines and
are made from unclassified vineyards or grapes that have been declassified through "illegal" blending.
Similar to the Italian Super Tuscans from the late 20th century, some Spanish winemakers will
intentionally declassify their wines so that they have greater flexibility in blending and winemaking
methods.

‡uinos de la Tierra (udlT3 - This level is similar to France's vin de pays system, normally
corresponding to the larger comunidad autonóma geographical regions and will appear on the label
with these broader geographical designations like Andalucia, Castilla La Mancha and Levante.

‡uino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (uCPRD) - This level is similar to


France's Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS) system and is considered a stepping stone
towards DO status.

‡Denominación de Origen (Denominació d'Origen in Catalan - DO3- This level is for the
mainstream quality-wine regions which are regulated by the Consejo Regulador who is also
responsible for marketing the wines of that DO. In 2005, nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in
Spain was within the boundaries a DO region.

‡Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa/DOQ - Denominació d'Origen Qualificada


in Catalan3- This designation, which is similar to Italy's Denominazione di Origine Controllata e
Garantita (DOCG) designation, is for regions with a track record of consistent quality and is meant to
be a step above DO level. Rioja was the first region afforded this designation in 1991 and was
followed by Priorat in 2003, and Ribera del Duero in 2008.
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Additionally there is the Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago) designation for individual single-
estates with an international reputation. As of 2009, there were 9 estates with this status.

·.- Regulations governing wine

The Spanish wines have been adapted to uropean standards, and they have been classified into two
groups: Table Wine (Vinos de mesa) and Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions (Vinos de
Calidad Producidos en Regiones Determinadas).

Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions -QWPSR-

(Vinos de Calidad Producidos en Regiones Determinadas -VCPRD-):

Qualified Denomination of Origin Wines -QDO-

(Vinos de Denominación de Origen Calificada - DOCa)

The top level of quality and monitoring of wine production.

The basic requirements:

High levels of quality over a long period of time. The first designated wine to enter was Rioja, 1991.

The production area is required to have been recognized over at least the previous 10 years as status
"Denomination of Origin (DO)".

All products must come to market bottled in wineries located in the region where they are produced.

Denomination of Origin Wines -DO-

(Vinos de Denominación de Origen - DO)

The basic requirements:

ach DO must be regulated by a Governing Body (Consejo Regulador)

Spanish wines produced in a demarcated production area using grapes grown in that same region.

The reputation or characteristics are due to the geographic environment, the human factor or both, as
regards the production of the fruit and the making or ageing of the wine.

The production area is required to have been recognized over at least the previous five years as a
region producing "Quality Wines with a Geographical Indication".

Quality Wines with a Geographical Indication


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(Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica)

The wines made in a certain spanish region using grapes grown in that same region whose reputation
or quality are due to the geographic environment.

Table Wine (Vinos de mesa)

Country Wines - CW (Vinos de la Tierra - VT)

Spanish ºrape uarieties

  
 

Tempranillo: Spain´s most famous and noble grape. Also known as


Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino. Grown in many regions
including Rioja, Ribera del Duero, La Mancha and Penedes

ºarnacha: known as Grenache in France & America, this is the


most prominent grape in Priorat

Mencia: Spain´s hot and upcoming cult grape used in Bierzo, and
also in Valdeorras

ºraciano: Also known as Morrastel, Courouillade in France and Xres in California

Mazuelo: Also known as Mazuelo Tinto, Cariñena, and Carignan in France

Manto Negro: the main grape in Mallorca, used to make some very interesting wines

Listan Negro: most common red grape in the Canary Island, particularly Tenerife. Main
grape in top wine ³Crater´

Negramoll: another red varietal from the Canary Islands, often mixed with Listan Negro

Bobal: used in the Levante to make mainly rosé wines

Cariñena: main red grape in Calatayud and Aragon in general. Carignan in France.

Monastrell: interesting red used mainly in Jumilla (Murcia) and Catalonia, makes juicy
wines, Known as Mourvèdre in France.

Moristel: unusual grape found in Somontano and Aragon, makes young fruity wine

   
 

uerdejo: the ³it grape of the moment, grown in Rueda and used for grassy young whites
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Albariño: considered by many to be strain of Riesling, this grape is grown in Rias Baixas
and makes Spain´s most elegant white wines.

uiura/Macabeo: Also known as Maccabeu in France. Main white grape in Rioja and in
Penedes.

Pedro Ximenez: the best grape used in quality Sherry and Montilla production, aged and
used to produce ultra-unctuous sweet wines

Malvasia: This grape originated in Greece. Also known as Subirat-Parent, Blanca-Roja and
Malvasia Fina in Italy and Portugal, this is a blender grape

Xarel.lo: Also known as Pansa Blanca in Alella. One of the Cava grapes, also seen more and
more in single varietal wines

Parellada: Also known as Montonec, native to Catalonia, key component of Cava

Treixadura: a varietal found in Rias Baixas (Galicia), used on its own and for blending

Moscatel: a delicious ³grapey´ grape, found prominently in Alicante and more and more in
Navarra

Merseguera: a common white grape used for everyday wines in Valencia

Airén: most abundant white grape in Spain, is slowly being eradicated in favor of other
varietals that offer more voluptuous whites.

ºodello: main white grape found in the beautiful Ribeiro wine region of Galicia

Hondarrabi Zuri: the near impossible to pronounce grape used to make Basque Country´s
zippy Txakoli wines

Palomino: main grape used in the production of finos in Jerez


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arly Australian winemakers faced many difficulties, particularly due to the unfamiliar
Australian climate. However they eventually achieved considerable success. "At the 1873
Vienna xhibition the French judges, tasting blind, praised some wines from Victoria, but
withdrew in protest when the provenance of the wine was revealed, on the grounds that wines
of that quality must clearly be French." Australian wines continued to win high honours in
French competitions. A Victorian Syrah (also called Shiraz) competing in the 1878 Paris
xhibition was likened to Château Margaux and "its taste completed its trinity of perfection."
One Australian wine won a gold medal "first class" at the 1882 Bordeaux International
xhibition and another won a gold medal "against the world" at the 1889 Paris International
xhibition. That was all before the destructive effects on the industry of the phylloxera
epidemic.

In the decades following the devastation caused by phylloxera until the late 1970s, Australian
wine production consisted largely, but not exclusively, of sweet and fortified wines. Since
then, Australia has rapidly become a world leader in both the quantity and quality of wines it
produces. For example, Australian wine exports to the US rose from 578,000 cases in 1990 to
20,000,000 cases in 2004 and in 2000 it exported more wine than France to the UK for the
first time in history.

The industry has also suffered hard times in the last 20 years. In the late 1980s, governments
sponsored growers to pull out their vines to overcome a glut of winegrapes. Low grape prices
in 2005 and 2006 have led to calls for another sponsored vine pull. Cleanskin wines were
introduced into Australia during the 1960s as a means to combat oversupply and poor sales.

In recent years organic and biodynamic wines have been increasing in popularity, following a
worldwide trend. In 2004 Australia hosted the First International Biodynamic Wine Forum in
Beechworth, Victoria which brought together biodynamic wine producers from around the
globe. Despite the overproduction of grapes many organic and biodynamic growers have
enjoyed continuing demand thanks to the premium prices winemakers can charge for their
organic and biodynamic products, particularly in the uropean market.

ºrape varieties

Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon
Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties
were introduced from urope and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and
Tarrango.

Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic
commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine
"Shiraz".

About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over
recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called "alternative varieties" other
than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit
Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more
common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced.
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Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a
number of varietals, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated
in canopy management and other viticultural and in wine-making techniques, and they have a
general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in urope. Australian
wine-makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the
northern hemisphere during the off-season at home. They are an important resource in the
globalisation of wine and wine critic Matt Kramer notes that "the most powerful influence in
wine today" comes from Australia (Kramer).

ºSM blends

GSM is a name commonly used in Australia for a red wine consisting of a blend of Grenache,
Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah), and Mourvèdre.This blend originated from those used in some Southern
Rhône wines, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes,
producing a pale red juice with soft berry scents and a bit of spiciness. As a blending
component, it contributes alcohol, warmth and fruitiness without added tannins. Shiraz can
contribute full-bodied, fleshy flavors of black fruits and pepper. It adds color, backbone and
tannins and provides the sense of balance such blends require. Mourvèdre contributes
elegance, structure and acidity to the blend, producing flavors of sweet plums, roasted game
and hints of tobacco.

Production

Grapevines at Russet Ridge Winery near Naracoorte in the Wrattonbully region

Australia's most famous wine is Penfolds Grange. The great 1955 vintage was submitted to
competitions beginning in 1962 and over the years has won more than 50 gold medals. The
vintage of 1971 won first prize in Syrah/Shiraz at the Wine Olympics in Paris. The 1990
vintage was named 'Red Wine of the Year' by the Wine Spectator magazine in 1995, which
later rated the 1998 vintage 99 points out of a possible 100. Wine critic Hugh Johnson has
called Grange the only First Growth of the Southern Hemisphere. The influential wine critic
Robert Parker, who is well known for his love of Bordeaux wines, has written that Grange
"has replaced Bordeaux's Pétrus as the world's most exotic and concentrated wine".

Other red wines to garner international attention include Henschke Hill of Grace, Clarendon
Hills Astralis, D'Arenberg Dead Arm, Torbreck Run Rig and other high-end Penfolds wines
such as St Henri shiraz.

Australia has almost 2000 wine producers, most of whom are small winery operations. The
market is dominated by a small number of major wine companies. After several phases of
consolidation, the largest Australian wine company by sales of branded wine was Foster's
Group in 2001-2003 and then in 2004 and 2005, Hardy Wine Company. Hardys, part of the
world's biggest wine company Constellation Brands, had the largest vineyard area and the
largest winegrape intake in the years 2001 - 2005.

The information included on wine labels is strictly regulated. One aspect of this is that the
label must not make any false or misleading statements about the source of the grapes. Many
names (called geographic indications) are protected. These are divided into "South astern
Australia", the state names, zones (shown in the map), regions, and subregions. The largest
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volume of wine is produced from grapes grown in the warm climate Murray-Darling Basin
zones of Lower Murray, North Western Victoria and Big Rivers. In general, the higher-value
premium wines are made from smaller and cooler-climate regions. Some well-known regions
are listed below:

South Australia wine Victoria wine New South Wales Western Australia
regions regions wine regions wine regions

Southern Fleurieu Alpine Valleys Hunter Valley Greater Perth

Adelaide Hills Beechworth Mudgee Perth Hills

Barossa Valley Goulburn Valley Riverina Peel

Clare Valley Grampians New ngland Swan Valley

Coonawarra Heathcote wine Southern Highlands South Western


region Australia
den Valley
Henty Blackwood Valley
Langhorne Creek
Mornington Geographe
McLaren Vale Peninsula
Great Southern
Padthaway Pyrenees
Albany
Riverland Rutherglen
Denmark
Wrattonbully Yarra Valley
Frankland River
King Valley
Mount Barker

Porongurup

Manjimup

Margaret River

Pemberton[24]

The South Australian wine industry is responsible for more than half the production of all
Australian wine.[citation needed]

In recent years, the Tasmanian wine industry has emerged as a producer of high quality
wines. In particular, the Tamar Valley has developed a reputation for its Chardonnay and
Pinot Noir, which are well suited to the cooler Tasmanian climate.
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cooler as you get closer to the coastal regions like Adelaide Hills. Across the region there is
low annual rainfall which necessitates the need for irrigation to curb the threat of droughts.

Vines are grown at types of altitudes in south Australia from the low valley regions of the
Barossa and the Riverland area up to the 1,970 ft (600 m) vineyards at Pewsey Vale in the
den Valley. The soil type is also varied across the region from the well known terra rosa of
the Coonawarra region, the limestone-marl based soils of the Adelaide and Riverland area, to
the sandy, clay loam based soils of the Barossa.

Wine regions

Since the 1960s, Australia's labeling laws have centered around an appellation system that
distinguishes the geographic origins of the grape. Under these laws at least 85% of the grapes
must be from the region that is designated on the label. In the late 1990s more definitive
boundaries were established that divided Australia up into Geographic Indications (GI)
known as zones, regions and subregions.

South Australia added a fourth classification known as super zones which include multiple
number of nearby zones. Currently only the Adelaide region which includes the Barossa,
Fleurieu zones and the area around the Mount Lofty Ranges is designated as a "superzone".

Barossa zone

Shiraz grapes.

Barossa Valley (wine)

The Barossa Valley is one of South Australia's oldest and most prestigious premium wine
producing regions, known internationally for its Shiraz production. The area's climate is very
hot and dry with most of the area's white wine plantings of Chardonnay, Riesling and
Semillon being located on the higher altitude hill sides around the valley where they can be
cooled by the ocean breeze. In recent times the area has found some success with plantings of
Rhône varietals including Grenache and Mourvèdre. Due to the hot climate, the grapes can
become overripe, which requires the winemaking to limit the maceration time to prevent the
wines from being overly tannic. For a list of wineries, see List of wineries in the Barossa
Valley.

The den Valley wine region includes the High den sub-region and is known for its rockier,
more acidic soil than the neighboring Barossa Valley. The area has a higher elevation (in the
1,300±2000 ft (400±600 m) range), and thus has a colder, wetter climate. The den Valley is
home to the Hill of Grace vineyard with its 130+ year old Shiraz vines that are behind the
world renowned Henschke Hill of Grace wine. The den Valley has also gained international
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attention for its limestone noted Rieslings. For a list of wineries, see List of wineries in the
den Valley.

Îleurieu zone

Vineyard in McLaren Vale.

The Currency Creek wine region extends from shores of Lake Alexandrina to Port lliot and
includes vineyards on the islands of Hindmarsh, Mundoo, and Long Island. Chardonnay,
Riesling, Sauvignon blanc and Semillon grow here.

The Kangaroo Island wine region is located just off the coast of South Australia and is
known for its Bordeaux style wines. Most of the vineyards are found on the ironstone and
sandy loam soils near Kingscote.

The Langhorne Creek wine region is located southeast of Adelaide along the Bremer River.
Orlando Wines sources many of the grapes for its Jacob's Creek brand from this area which
has also developed a reputation of its dessert wines.

The McLaren Vale wine region is located south of Adelaide and extends to the south of
Morphett Vale. With the area's 22 inches (56 cm) of rains and diversity of soil types from
sand to clay to limestone, this area produces some of the widest ranges of wines in South
Australia with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon
blanc being the most widely planted.

The Southern Fleurieu region is located on the southern end of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The
area's sandy loam and gravel based ironstone soil is home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec,
Riesling and Viognier plantings. Shiraz, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot and Primitivo are also
planted at Nangkita in the centre of the Peninsula.. Nangkita is home to Peter Belej's
Madeleines Wines (formerly Vincognita) wine label, winner at the 2008 McLaren Vale Wine
Show of the best Fleurieu Peninsula dry red and the best from any small producer in the
larger region. It was also the best single vineyard wine of any style - scoring its grower
recognition as the best single vineyard viticulturist of the year - and finally impressing the
show's international judge, Singaporean Ch'ng Poh Tiong, as his favourite of all the shiraz he
tasted.

Mount Lofty Ranges zone

Cabernet Sauvignon from the Clare Valley.


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The Adelaide Hills include Lenswood and Piccadilly Valley sub regions. Located 9 miles (14
km) from the coast, winds from the Gulf St Vincent has a tempering affect on the
mediterranean climate of this region making it one of the coolest in South Australia. While
the first vines were planted in this area in the 1840s, it didn't gain much attention from the
international wine community till the influx of boutique wineries in the 1970s introduced the
area to successful bottlings of sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot noir. In recent
times, the area is starting to see success with Cabernet franc, Merlot, Sangiovese, Sauvignon
blanc, Semillon and Shiraz. The cool climate of this region encourages winemakers to use
malolactic fermentation to help tame some of the wines naturally high acidity.

The Adelaide Plains is one of the hottest and flattest wine regions in South Australia. The
area's Magill vineyard use to provide the grapes for the production of Penfolds' Grange but is
now its own bottling.

The Clare Valley is one of South Australia's most northernly districts. Despite its hot and dry
climate many of the vineyards in this area are not irrigated which helps to reduce yields and
concentrate the flavors in the grape. The region is known for its ability to produce
Chardonnays, Semillons, and Rieslings that range from full body and luscious to light and
delicate.

Îar north zone

The Southern Flinders Ranges has been planted with vineyards since the 1890s but has only
recent started to gain the attention of the international wine community. Located along the
Goyder's Line the area receives ample amount of rainfall and tends to harvest earlier then the
neighboring Clare and Barossa valleys. The area is best suited for Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot and Shiraz.

Limestone coast zone

Terra rossa soil.


The Coonawarra is the most southerly wine district in South Australia and is known for the
world renowned Cabernet Sauvignon grown in its terra rossa soil. For years there was
disputes within the Coonawarra region about what vineyards could rightfully be considered
"Coonawarra" and what lands were just outside the boundaries. The soil itself became the
deciding factor with the lands with red terra rossa soil being distinguished from the black soil
found interspersed throughout the region. In addition to Cabernet, the region has also found
some success with its Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot noir, Riesling,
Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and Shiraz.

The Mount Benson wine region is located in the southeastern part of the state near the Robe
wine region. The area has seen an influx foreign investments including the well known
Rhône wine estate M. Chapoutier and the Belgium Kreglinger winery. The wines made here
tend to be more fruitier and less tannic than Coonawarra.

The Padthaway wine region is slightly warmer than Coonawarra but is more well known for
its white wine production-particularly Chardonnay. The wines here are known for the balance
of their natural acidity and fruit.
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The Robe wine region is located near Mount Benson in the southeast part of the state. The
area is a developing wine region currently producing fruit for the Foster's Group SouthCorp
division.

The Wrattonbully wine region is located between Coonawarra and Padthaway and had its
first commercial vineyards established in the area in 1968. The climate of the region is
similar to Coonawarra but vineyards in the Wrattonbully region tend to be higher elevated
and on better drained soils. The soil is of the area includes clay, sand and loam on top of
limestone with some patches of terra rossa. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the most
popular plantings.

The Barossa ualley is one of Australia's oldest regions. Located in South Australia, the
Barossa Valley is about 56km (35 miles) northeast of the city of Adelaide. Unlike most of
Australia whose wine industry was heavily influenced by the British, the wine industry of the
Barossa Valley was founded by German settlers fleeing persecution from the Prussian
province of Silesia (in what is now modern day Poland). The hot continental climate of the
region promoted the production of very ripe grapes that was the linchpin of the early
Australian fortified wine industry. As the modern Australian wine industry shifted towards
red table wines (particularly those made by the prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon) in the mid-
20th century, the Barossa Valley fell out of favor due to its reputation for being largely a
Shiraz producers whose grapes were destined for blending. During this period the name
"Barossa Valley" rarely appeared on wine labels. In the 1980s, the emergence of several
boutique family specializing in old vine Shiraz wines began to capture international attention
for the distinctive style of Barossa Shiraz, a full bodied red wine with rich chocolate and
spice notes. This led to a renaissance in the Barossa which catapulted the region to the
forefront of the Australian wine industry.
Many of Australia's largest and most notable wineries are either headquartered or own
extensive holdings in the Barossa Valley. These include such wineries as Penfolds, Peter
Lehmann, Orlando Wines, Seppeltsfield, Wolf Blass and Yalumba. Many Shiraz vines in the
Barossa Valley are several decades old, with some vineyards planted with old vines that are
100-150 years old. Other grape varieties grown in the Barossa include Grenache, Mourvedre,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Semillon.

History
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George Angas and the South Australian Company promised Sileasian refugees safe passage
and land in the Barossa Valley, ushering in the Germanic influence that would shape the
Barossa wine industry.
While most of Australia's wine industry was directly influenced by the involvement of the
British, the Barossa Valley was shaped by the influence of German settlers fleeing
persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia. In 1841, the South Australian Company
(under orders of one of its shareholders George Fife Angas) chartered three ships to Silesia to
offer refuge and land in the Barossa Valley to any settler willing to volunteer to help establish
the colony. Nearly 500 families accepted the offer and settled in the Barossa Valley. After
trying many types of agricultural crops, the settlers found the warm fertile valley to be ideally
suited for viticulture. The early years of the Barossa winemaking ushered in a long period of
trial and error for while the settlers were skilled farmers, their previous homeland of Silesia
had little to no winemaking tradition.
The early focus of the Barossa wine industry was on the production of Riesling, a German
wine grape from the Rhineland. The hot valley floor contributed to a very ripe, alcoholic
wine that would often turn brown. Some of this wine was eventually distilled in brandy which
ushered in a period of fortified wine production that coincided with the plantings of many red
grape wine varieties like Shiraz and Grenache. These "port-style wines" would become the
center of the Barossa wine industry for decades to come. When the focus on the Australian
wine industry shifted in the mid-20th century to production of premium, non-fortified wines,
the Barossa was regarded as an "inferior" wine region compared to cooler climate regions
such as Coonawarra and Padthaway. This was partly due to the extensive association that the
Barossa had with Shiraz, including vast old vines plantings that were several decades old.
During this period Shiraz was considered a very "common" variety that was not as
fashionable as the prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon that was popular in the world's wine
market. Most of the grapes produced in the Barossa Valley during this time was used as part
of anonymous blends with the name "Barossa Valley" rarely appearing on wine labels.
By the late 20th century, the reputation of the Barossa Valley started to change as several
small boutique varieties began earning critical acclaim for their Barossa Valley wines. In
particular, Barossa Shiraz became so well known internationally that it was considered its
own unique style of Syrah that was distinctive of the grape's expression in other regions like
Côte-Rôtie, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and California. This style of big, full bodied Shiraz with
rich, chocolate and spice notes became synonymous with not only the Barossa Valley but
with Australian wine in general. In the words of Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, the
Barossa Valley became "Australia's quintessential wine region".

Climate and geography

The foothills of the Barossa Ranges offers macroclimates that are quite distinct from the
flatter valley floor vineyards featured in lead picture above.

In general the Barossa Valley has a continental climate but its series of transverse valleys and
sloping hills does produce a wide range of macroclimates. Temperatures vary from very
warm on the valley floors to progressively cooler at higher altitudes on the hillsides and
further south in the valley. Despite its reputation as a "warm climate region", main of the
Barossa Valley's climate figures are not that dissimilar from the relatively cooler Margaret
River Valley in Western Australia-though the Barossa does have a wider diurnal temperature
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range. During the heat summation and mean temperatures during the October to April
growing season, the region receives about 1710 heating degree days with mean average
temperatures during the crucial ripening month of January being around 70°F (21.4°C).
Rainfall during the growing season averages only around 6.3 inches (160mm), with average
relative humidity around 39%, which means that viticultural irrigation is often used. The
exception is many of the old vine vineyards on the slightly cooler western side of the valley
which is often dry-farmed without irrigation.

The Barossa Valley itself closely follows the path of the North Para River and includes its
tributary Jacobs Creek. Vines are planted in a roughly 20 mile (30 km) stretch of the valley
that extends eastward into neighboring den Valley. To the east of the valley are the Barossa
Ranges, part of the larger Mount Lofty Ranges. Vineyard altitudes will range from 750 ft
(230m) around the valley floor near the city of Lyndoch upwards of 1,800 ft (550m) towards
the Barossa Ranges. At these higher elevation, the climate can be tempered by cool ocean
breezes coming in from the Gulf St Vincent. The Barossa has a vast diversity of various
vineyard soil types that include clay, loam and sand topsoils over clay and red-brown loam
subsoils. In some areas there are patches of weathered limestone.

uiticulture and winemaking


Grapes in the Barossa can get very ripe with high sugar and low acid levels.

Most of the Barossa Valley makes extensive used of irrigation to supplement the region's low
rainfall supply during the growing season. However, concerns about water supply in the late
20th and early 21st century led to the development of strict regulations on the numbers and
locations of irrigation boreholes as well as the amount of water that can be used by vineyards.
Some of the region's oldest vineyards, especially those on the slightly cooler west side of the
valley, practice dryland farming. The increased water stress of the practice, coupled with the
naturally reduced yields of old vines, tends to produce the most deeply concentrated grapes in
the valley which often go into the Barossa's most expensive and sought after wines. Harvest
usually begins in February and may be conducted in the cooler temperatures of night to help
maintain acid levels.

The generally hot climate of the Barossa Valley usually means that the grapes become ripe
very easily with high levels of sugars and low levels of acids. Winemaking in the Barossa
often utilizes the process of acidification in order to add balance to the wine. The high
alcohol levels from the fermented sugars may be offset by various winemaking practices
including reverse osmosis and adding water to the must. Historically, winemakers in the
Barossa have utilized very short maceration periods that limit the amount of time that the
wines spends in contact with the skin. Often the wine is racked off the skins into oak wine
barrels before fermentation is even completed. While this does mean that supplemental
tannins might need to be added, this short maceration often leaves the wines with a smooth
mouthfeel. The extensive use of oak is also a characteristic of Barossa winemaking with
American oak, with its more aggressive dill and coconut aroma notes, often used more than
French oak
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ºrapes and wine


Many of Australia's most well known wines, such as this Penfolds Shiraz, comes from the
Barossa Valley.

While the Barossa Valley is most commonly associated with its signature grape variety of
Shiraz, the region does grow a number of grape varieties. Among these other varieties are
Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The
popularity of Syrah has sparked interest in the development of other Rhone varieties, with
increase production of Grenache and Mourvedre (also known as Mataro in Australia) for both
blending and varietal bottlings. Many of these vines are remnants of the Barossa's fortified
wine history and such have substantial age themselves.

Despite its reputation as a red wine region, the Barossa Valley does produce a large amount
of white wine. Riesling has been historically important in the region but has gradually shifted
eastward to higher elevations and cooler climates of the Barossa Ranges. The geographical
indication of the Barossa Zone actually includes the den Valley that borders the Barossa
Valley to the east and has developed an international reputation for the quality of its Riesling.
Many Rieslings labeled with simply "Barossa" will often include more grapes from the cooler
den Valley than Barossa. The plantings of Semillon in the Barossa have evolved to develop
its own unique pink-skinned clone that is distinctive from the Semillon found in its French
homeland of Bordeaux or the internationally known Semillon from the Hunter Valley in New
South Wales. Barossa Semillon is characterized by its full body, golden color and low
acidity. Traditionally the wine was fermented in oak but in recent years has been produced
more with stainless steel. Barossa Chardonnay is often oaked and subjected to malolactic
fermentation which produces a big, full body creamy wine.