7 Primary Styles of Spanish Red Wine
When talking about types of red wine in Spain, we are not going to talk about whether it is aged or not, and if it is aged, what types are there. Let’s focus on another aspect that is believed to be the newest trend, not only in red wines but also in white wines and any type of wine in general. Generally, referring to the types of red wine according to the grapes from which they are made.
We could elaborate a long list of styles of red wines, found throughout Spain but, let us be honest, almost 90% of red spanish wines are made with a few red varietals. Some of these are widely spread throughout almost the entire country, as is the case of Tempranillo.
Others, however, are located in more specific geographical areas such as Bobal which can be found in Utiel-Requena and Levante areas, Mencía which is in the Bierzo area of Leon and Galicia, or Monastrell which is a very prolific Mediterranean grape, for example in the Jumilla area.
So, let’s see what the most common types of red wine are in Spain depending on the grape it is made with.
First, we’ll look at wines made with the Tempranillo grape. This variety is grown practically all over Spain, so you can imagine that each area, with its unique climate and soil, will produce grapes with different characteristics. This is actually the number one most cultivated grape in all of Spain, even more than the white Airén grape which was the prominent grape until recently. As it is so widespread, the wines will obviously have different ways of elaboration and peculiarities.
Young Tempranillo wines are usually found in areas such as La Mancha, specifically Manchuela and Valdepeñas, for example. Surprisingly, it is a grape that actually occurs more in aged wines such as Robles, Crianzas, Reservas, or Gran Reservas. Rioja focuses more on wines that are aged more than 12 months, like Crianzas, Reservas, and Gran Reservas.
Ribera del Duero focuses on Robles, Crianzas and Reservas. Toro or Extremadura and in general all of Castilla y León tend to lean towards aged wines that spend around a year in barrels. Wines made with Tempranillo are usually juicy and spicy wines with a fleshy mouthfeel.
Next, we have wines made with Garnacha which may be the second varietal that produces the most red wines. With this grape, there is a big difference between the young wines and the Crianzas, which are the most commonly produced. In addition, there are many areas where there are very old Garnacha vines, so the wines are truly spectacular and do not resemble any other wines at all.
Aragon is an important area for wines made from Garnacha. This grape is popular in its four Certifications of Origin: Calatayud, Somontano, Cariñena and Campo de Borja. In Catalonia, you will most commonly find Garnacha Priorat, and Montsant, Penedès. Navarra and Rioja, and to a lesser extent La Mancha, also use Garnacha for the production of young wines and, of course, rosés.
The area of Sierra de Gredos, and the area of Cebreros, are also big users of the Garnacha grape. Wines from Madrid and Méntrida, are areas that have also recently launched a lot of this grape.
Now, if we talk about Garnacha Tintorera, we would extend the map to many more areas such as Galicia, Bierzo, and Jumilla. What characterizes these red wines? The young wines are fresh and juicy in style with a presence of sweet red fruit. You will also taste notes of strawberry, ruby red grapefruit, hibiscus, and black tea.
Crianza or old-vine wines have more hints of sweet plums, red licorice color, and minerality. They are complex wines with high tannin content and dark raspberry flavors.
Monastrell is a grape that’s production is centered in areas close to the Mediterranean, but with some differences as each area has its peculiarities that allow you to enjoy a very varied type of red wine in Spain all made with the same grape.
Jumilla is the epicenter of this variety. Nearby areas such as Alicante, Bullas, Yecla, Valencia or Utiel-Requena, are also given to producing Monastrell single-varietal red wines. If you taste wines made with this varietal, hints of raspberry sauce, chocolate, earth, and smoke appear. The wines are intensely lively, with high tannin, black fruit, and black pepper flavors.
Many believe that Monastrell is a French grape that came to Spain but, actually, it is just the opposite! It is an autochthonous grape that was taken by French winemakers and then, because of this, it expanded around the world.
Another primary style of wine is made with Mencía. This is one of the red grapes that began to be known at the end of the last century in bottled wines. The Mencía grapes are mainly centered in two areas. On the one hand, in the Leon region of El Bierzo and on the other hand in three of the Galician appellations of origin: Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, and Monterrei.
These wines are eminently fresh, with a predominance of red fruit and a great amount of acidity, which gives us vivacity in its taste.
Without a doubt, Mencia red wines are unique medium-bodied wines and many have compared them to the Grand Cru grapes of Burgundy, due to their layers of red fruits, floral aromas and moderate mouth-drying tannins.
This style can be aged very well, with two types predominating in these areas: young wines and Crianzas.
The final style is about wines that are made with Bobal. Utiel-Requena may be the epicenter of wines made from Bobal. Around this area, there are different appellations that also produce single-varietal wines with this grape. One area, for example, that uses it a lot is the Manchuela.
These wines leave us with notes of black cherry, dried green herbs, violet, and cocoa powder. If you take a look at them in a still glass, they surprise you and we love them, as you see wines with a deep opaque purple color, high tannins, and black fruit aromas.
With over 150 years of experience, Viña Valeria upholds the traditional style of Rioja winemaking and offers a variety of delicious wines with their secret blend of a variety of Rioja grapes. It follows a classic style to produce that’s easy to enjoy with friends and family on any occasion.
If you are looking for a Rioja red wine, choose between their Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva, or even an old vintage, known as a Cosecha Vieja. However, if you prefer to have something different, Viña Valoria’s whites and rosés are perfect for you. No matter the style of wine you prefer, whether it’s sweet, dry or something in between, Viña Valoria has the best rioja wine for you!