Spain is the new upstart on the international wine market. A long tradition of wine made with extended oak aging and oxidative character is being replaced by a wave of the new style wines. Young dynamic winemakers using modern wine making techniques, stainless steel, French oak barrels, and international grapes blended with the indigenous Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mencia, Verdejo and so on. It is an exciting time for Spanish wines; more regions are emerging every month, and with most areas having a climate very suitable for grape growing the future does look bright. Spain has more land planted with grape vines than any other country and yet produces less wine than France and Italy. The dry soils and threat of drought force the vines to be planted further apart and also help to naturally keep the yields low. The cost of land, labor, and production of wine in Spain is cheaper than most other countries as well, resulting in many wine bargains to be had for the thrifty shopper. Spain is home to over 600 grape varieties, but concentrates mostly on Tempranillo and Garnacha for red, and Verdejo, Viura, and Albarino for white. Spain is also one of the world’s largest producers of sparkling wine, with Cava being sold as a value driven alternative to Champagne.
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About the producer
|Cigales||Cesar Principe||Located Northwest of Ribera del Duero, Cigales is most famous for dry rose, but high quality red wine is made here, as well. The benchmark producer of Cigales is arguably Cesar Principe. The estate farms 40 hectares of untrained Tempranillo vines grown on a “carpet of stones” (much like in Chateauneuf-du-Pape). The stones here (a bit smaller than in Chateaunuef) store heat from the sun and radiate it back up into the vines well after sunset- further ripening the grapes. Cesar Principe only uses the oldest vines (some 80 years). The wines see French and American oak. Winemaking philosophy here is simple: They aim to produce small quantities of the very best Tempranillo in Cigales. They craft the most natural wine possible with minimal process. In fact, only one out of six vintages receives sulfur or chemicals. Cesar Munoz, the winemaker is highly regarded for his knowledge of the D.O.s of Castilla y Leon, he also makes wines for such acclaimed properties as Leda, and Bienvenida Toro. SOLD BY VINUM IN WASHINGTON ONLY
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:
|Galicia||Bodegas Viña Nora||The base of operations for Bodegas Viña Nora is a border town of Portugal in the Condado do Tea district of Rias Baixas. This region is blessed with a mild climate of warm summers and rainy autumns, perfect for growing the Albariño grape. The wines themselves have intense aromas of kiwi, melon and peach, with light floral notes and a clear almost sea-breeze quality. The regular Nora is fermented in stainless steel vats to help keep these characteristics razor sharp. The Nora de Neve, on the other hand, is aged for 7 months in oak to add a complex note of bay leaves and baking spice.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.vinanora.com
|Galicia||Grupo Galiciano||Jose Rodriguez started Grupo Galiciano in 1995, specializing in producing great quality and prestigious wines. Now, Grupo Galiciano is formed by five distinctive projects, each with its own "bodega". The aim is to integrate different project to learn from each other, while keeping its own identity. Empirical knowledge passed on from one generation to the next and modern techniques make Grupo Galiciano an innovative winery.
The Adegas Dia e Noite "bodega" is located in Valdeorras. This region is the fifth Galician DO, and is the furthest inland from the coast. Temperatures are higher and can rise up to 44 degress Centigrade. Rainfall is also not as plentiful as it is on the coastal region.
Galiciano Dia is a white wine made from the aromatic Godello variety, which is typically planted in this area.
For winery & some vineyard information, plus tasting notes & accolades, please see:
|Jumilla||Bodegas Luzon||Bodegas Luzon was founded in 1916 by a group of families who have been making wine in the region for over a century. In the late 1990's a younger generation rebuilt and modernized the winery. The region itself receives ample sunshine and very little rain, this is perfect for the Monastrell grape which requires a warmer drier climate to ripen fully.
They also grow other grape varieties such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Souvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot and the white grapes Chardonnay and Macabeo. The alkaline chalky soils offer tough growing conditions which increase the depth and complexity of the wine.
For winery, tasting & technical notes, vineyard and award information please see:
|La Mancha||Bodegas Mano a Mano||The Tempranillo grape, also known as Cencibel, has grown in this part of La Mancha since the Middle Ages. Bodegas Mano a Mano is on the eastern side of La Mancha surrounded by a mixture of soils containing sand, stones, limestone, and clay. This part of La Mancha is at 2000 feet elevation, this altitude helps to create a natural diurnal shift which extends the growing season and provides acidic balance in the wine. This combination of altitude and soil helps to bring out the very best in the old vine Tempranillo, and creates a fruit forward wine with structure and earth notes.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.bodegamanoamano.com
|La Mancha||Pago de Venta La Ossa||Pago de Venta La Ossa is located in the "bread-basket" or centre of Spain in the region of La Mancha. The winery mostly grows the traditional Tempranillo grape, yet has also started to experiment with some international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. The hot weather and borderline drought conditions force the vines to naturally produce lower yields, this has the result of a more extracted and complex wine. The Venta La Ossa Crianza is a blend of mostly Tempranillo with some Petit Verdot and Merlot blended in for more fruit flavor. The Syrah is a robust 100% Syrah aged for 1 year in oak.
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|Rueda||Bodegas Naia||Bodegas Naia is within Rueda on the left bank of the Duero River. The winery specializes in growing the indigenous white grape Verdejo. This thicker skinned white grape is well at home to the high temperatures and arid conditions that can be present at the height of summer in this part of Spain. The robust nature of the grape gives the wine a larger structure on the palate, and makes it an excellent choice to be blended with a little Sauvignon Blanc. The addition of a little Sauvignon Blanc helps to add a little sharpness and citrus to the palate. The Naiades white wine is aged for 8 months in new French oak barrels to take full advantage of the fuller body of Verdejo, and add more complexity to this wine.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.bodegasnaia.com
|Ribera del Duero||Bodegas Arzuaga||Located in the Village of Quintanilla de Onesimo, Bodegas Arzuaga’s vineyards lie between 730 and 900 meters in altitude. The estate, known as “La Planta” boasts a total of 1770 hectares, 370 of which are dedicated to the vine, planted on Agrilo-calcaire and limestone soils, adjacent to vineyards planted by Vega Sicilia in the 1980’s. Winemaker Jorge Monzon has a knack for crafting wines with rich flavors, gentle texture and finesse that defines the style of Arzuaga. Jorge knows how to get the most out of the estate-grown wines, having worked at the cellars of Domaine de la Romanee Conti and Vega Sicilia.It is important to note that the 1400 hectares the Azuaga family does not produce grapes, but is a reserve for nature with over 800 wild boar, and 200 deer which live safely on their La Planta estate. Their love of nature is symbolized by the deer on their label, along with a depiction of the beautiful hotel and winery the family operates in Quntanilla de Onesimo.They produce a Crianza from these estates and have recently produced another wine called Pago Florentino with fruit from La Mancha. This new value-oriented wine has received numerous accolades and has taken the US by storm! BY VINUM IN WASHINGTON ONLY
For some winery information, plus tasting notes in spanish, please see:
|Ribera del Duero||Cillar de Silos||Cillar d’ Silos has arrived big-time! Now finding homes on the best wine lists in Spain, these wines have received rave reviews in the Spanish press. They are one of the few estate grown, estate bottled producers in Ribera del Duero. Owned by brothers Roberto and Oscar Aragon, they farm 48 hectares of old vines, which are hand-harvested. The Cillar d’ Silos Crianza is fermented in French oak and their used barrels are passed on to the El Quintanal. The Torresilos, only made in exceptional vintages is sourced from the oldest vineyards and aged in 100% new French oak. This wine is an amazing combination of power and finesse as there exists in Ribera. SOLD BY VINUM IN WASHINGTON & OREGON
For winery& vineyard information, plus tasting & technical notes, please see:www.cillardesilos.es
|Ribera del Duero||Bodegas Leda||Bodegas Leda is a project co-owned by Jesus Soto and Mariano Garcia (former winemaker of Vega Sicilia). Jesus is a top distributor of Wines in Spain, and a restaurateur who co-owns Milvinos with Roberto Aragon of Cilar do Silos. The Grupo is an interesting sub-culture that seems to be the up-and-coming stars of Spanish Gastronomy. To winemaker Cesar Munoz, the most important thing is the grapes and vineyards in which they are grown. He works with only 100% old vine Tempranillo grown in good soils with good exposure. Leda is produced from 16 small plots of land around Castilla y Leon (mostly Ribera del Duero). The grapes are hand-harvested in small boxes, hand-sorted and vinified in the small gravity winemaking facility in Valladolid. Leda is aged in 100% French oak, half of which is new, the other half is second pass. Leda is recognized as one of the top wines of Spain in that country. Here in the U.S., it has an underground following that is growing with each vintage. There is a lot to look for in this great boutique producer. SOLD BY VINUM IN WASHINGTON ONLY
This producer does not have a website
|Ribera del Duero||Dominio de Atuata||Dominio de Atuata is located in the eastern most part Ribera del Duero, a small area known as Soria. The origins of wine growing in Soria date back over 500 years. Dominio de Atuata still adheres to the traditional winemaking techniques employed in this region. The vineyards used by Dominio Atuata are biodynamically farmed with an average age of vine being in excess of 65 years. In some areas of the vineyard the vines are 140 years old. The grapes are hand carried in baskets to the winery where they are crushed using a long wooden beam, the must is taken into underground cellars for fermentation. These cellars are over 15 feet underground and provide an excellent climate suitable for a long consistent fermentation. The cool temperatures and stable environment are optimal for aging the wines before and after bottling.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.dominiodeatauta.com
|Ribera del Duero||Bodegas Ramiros||Bodegas Ramiro is a partnership between Jesus Ramiro, and Eduardo Garcia- son of the famous Mariano Garcia, winemaker of Vega Sicilia for 30+ years. Jesus is a top chef of the Castilla y Leon region, and Eduardo is a gifted young winemaker who crafts some of the best wines in Spain. The philosophy here is that by working outside the D.O., they are able to source some of the best old-vine fruit grown in Toro and Ribera del Duero, as a result, they bottle wine under the classification Castilla y Leon. They source small vineyards 70 years of age or more, hand-harvest, and employ gravity winemaking. The wine spends 30 months in 100% New French Oak. There are miniscule quantities of Ramiro’s available in the marketplace, as total production reaches only five barrels! Another wine, called Condita, made similarly to Ramiro’s Condita is approximately twice the production around 4000 bottles. The winery sits adjacent to the test kitchen and culinary school utilized by some of the best chefs in Spain. Ramiro’s Condita is truly an artisanal product! SOLD BY VINUM IN WASHINGTON & OREGON
This producer does not have a website.
|Rioja||Bodegas Ramón Bilbao||Don Ramón Bilbao Murga had been selling wine since 1896 before founding Bodegas Ramón Bilbao in 1924. In 1999 the winery was bought by the family business Diego Zamora, S.A., a large beverage group and owner of the Licor 43 brand. They immediately began renovating and expanding the facilities to allow for better wine production. Stainless steel fermentation vats and large wooden vats were added to allow better control of fermentation and extraction. The Bodega itself is located in Haro in Rioja Alta and houses over 15,000 French and American oak barrels. The winery is known for spicy Tempranillo wines with judicious oak and firm structure provided by excellent fruit selection and aging in these barrels.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.bodegasramonbilbao.es
|Rioja||Bodegas Riojanas||Bodegas Riojanas was founded in 1890 during the beginning of the glory years of the Spanish wine industry of the late 1800’s. The winery was built in Cenicero in the heart of the Rioja Alta region by the Artacho family. The family vineyards were located nearby and the stone gateway built in 1799 as an entrance to these vineyards still stands today.
The original winery was located in Cenicero, at the heart of Rioja Alta, on a land that stretches from the river Najerilla to the Ebro, 20 km from Logroño. In 2005 new facilities were built 20 km from Cenicero, in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town on the left bank of the River Ebro, also in Rioja Alta.
Bodegas Riojanas controls more than 300 hectares of the best vineyards in Cenicero, San Vicente de la Sonsierra and nearby municipalities. Rioja’s quintessential grape variety is Tempranillo, but Bodegas Riojanas also owns one of the largest surface areas dedicated to Mazuelo and Graciano in the wine region. These grape varieties add to the personality of the wines produced. The facilities at San Vicente de la Sonsierra can process 1,500,000 kg of grapes per harvest and house 5,000 oak barrels.
The different plots of vineyards are situated on clay-limestone soils of Miocene origin, suitable for producing the highest quality grapes.
In the past 100 years the winemaking systems at Bodegas Riojanas have evolved significantly; they use more modern techniques to produce cleaner wines while still respecting the traditional styles.
Grapes are generally harvested in October after the heat of the Summer has diminished. The batches of grapes from old vines are harvested in boxes to prevent the pressure from the weight from crushing the berries, thereby ensuring they arrive at the crush pad in optimal condition. Once there, they undergo a thorough manual sorting process, cluster by cluster, to make sure they are the epitome of quality for Bodegas Riojanas.
Once the grapes have been converted into wine through fermentation, the latter undergoes a process of ageing in oak barrels and then it is bottled.
Current winemaker Pablo Orio enjoys the history that is a large part of the wines, and Bodegas Riojanas treasures more than a century of winemaking tradition in its Cenicero winery. Its corners are steeped in history and talk of the passion for ageing wines that has always permeated it. This tradition and passion have been transmitted to the team that runs Bodegas Riojanas today. Its most precious legacy is its commitment to quality and the personality of its wines.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.bodegasriojanas.com
|Tierra del Vino de Zamora||Viñas del Cenit||The winery of Viñas del Cenit is located in the village of Villanueva de Campean in the historic area known as de la Tierra del Vino de Zamora. Zamora is on the Duero river next to Rueda and Toro. The vineyards are mostly still planted on their own rootstocks with vines of between 60 to 100 years old. These older Tempranillo vines produce lower yields which gives a richer more extracted wine. The wines themselves see between 8 and 19 months in oak barrels to add rich vanilla notes, and help smooth out any rougher notes in the wine.
For winery information, plus tasting & technical notes and accolades, please see:www.bodegascenit.com