Which do you feel is better, Spanish, Italian, French, or Californian wine?
Winemaking is not a new tradition by any means. Actually, there is evidence to show that the oldest evidence of winemaking could be dated all the way back to 6,000 B.C. The tradition of vine cultivation and winemaking in Spain is no less than in France or Italy, and the size of the vineyards is also similar.
It is sometimes said that it is thanks to the climate in France or Italy that their wine could be better, but if we take a closer look at the climatic statistics, it turns out that there are always appellations or regions in Spain, that can compare climatically to other regions and appellations in France and Italy. In California, the tradition of winemaking started during the period of Spanish colonization. According to records, the first planting of a vineyard happened in 1683 in the area of Baja California.
In Europe, wine production is very vast. Germany, Spain, France, and Italy are its largest and most important representatives and its different wines are enjoyed by people all around the world. Notably, it is the Spanish wines that deserve a special mention, not only for their recognized quality or their great history in the world of wine but also because their tradition and love for this drink make it one of the best in the world. Outside of Europe, you will find that, although wine is produced all over the United States, California by itself would be the fourth-largest producer of wine in the world if it were its own country.
But which wine is the best? Let’s look at some data to compare Spanish, Italian, French, and Californian wines.
First, let’s look at the quantity of wine production in each of these places.
As we’ve mentioned before the three European countries have similar quantities when it comes to the area that the vineyards cover but Spain is the largest area overall. If we evaluate the amount of land dedicated to winemaking, Spain is the world leader with 961,000 hectares. France and Italy aren’t too far behind with 797,00 hectares and 719,000 hectares respectively.
Among these four areas, California has the least with approximately 257,000 hectares. The difference in the area dedicated to wine production is also reflected in the amount of wine produced yearly. While California produces around 17 million gallons of wine a year, its European competitors, Spain, France, and Italy, produce over 1 billion gallons of wine a year which is approximately 8 billion bottles of wine.
Now that we’ve compared the quantity, let’s look at the quality. One extremely important factor when it comes to the quality of grapes is the climate. In La Rioja, which we know is one of the most important red wine regions in Spain, the growing season lasts from March to November, or even early December.
In the most important regions of France, this season lasts from March to the first half of October and in Italy, it lasts from the second half of April to the end of November. In California, the growing season also begins in March and lasts through late October or early November. Why is this important? Well, a longer growing season means riper grapes and an opportunity for a fuller, better wine.
What about the flavor? Each area has certain characteristics or commonalities that you can find within each of their varieties of wine. Spanish wines are well known for their flavor, often a bit heavier, with fruity and floral notes on a base of deep tannins. They owe it to the rigorous care of the vineyards and the traditional recipe. In Spain, there is a strong focus on the importance of tradition, more so than in Italy or France. Italy and France produce wine mainly intended for mass export.
Although La Rioja is one of the most famous regions on the Spanish wine map, it is definitely necessary to taste wines from different regions. They differ from each other more than the best-known and marketed wines from France and Italy. The key to understanding Spanish wines is their taste, where quality is not converted into quantity and where producers focus on the taste of the wine, not just mass production. French wine tends to have more nuanced flavors with the brighter fruit and more acidity in contrast to Italian wines which tend to be more subdued and earthy. When it comes to Californian wines, you will notice that they are often fruity and a bit sweeter. These wines tend to be a bit lighter and less bold.
Finally, let’s look at the price. Of course, it goes without saying that there is a huge variety when it comes to the price of wine. As we’ve seen in our other posts there are many categories and levels of wine, so, table wine, for example, would be much cheaper than a Gran Reserva. But when you compare the average cost of a bottle of wine there is a clear separation. Comparing prices of the least expensive wines, on average, Spanish wine costs $2.75 per bottle, French wine is around $4.75 per bottle, Italian is the most expensive among the European wines at about $7.50 per bottle but Californian wine is drastically more expensive than the other at an average cost of $14.00 per bottle.
So let’s go back to the question – which one has the best wine? Although each area produces great wine that is clearly enjoyed by millions all over the world, the facts support the fact that Spanish wine is the best. Spanish vineyards produce quality grapes that are used to create flavorful wine that you can find in many styles, from reds to whites and rosés, still and sparkling, there is definitely a Spanish wine that you’ll love. Also, Spanish wine has a cost-to-quality ratio that is unparalleled. A $20 bottle of wine in Spain would be of the highest quality whereas, as we’ve seen, in California $20 would buy you an average quality.
Viña Valoria crafts quality wine under the Rioja Certificate of Origin label and is one of the best-known wineries in the Rioja wine region. Following a classic style of winemaking, it produces wine that’s easy to enjoy with family or friends on any occasion. With over 150 years of experience, this winery upholds the traditional style of winemaking from the region to offer a variety of delicious Rioja wines. If you are looking for the best Rioja 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 roseés are perfect for you between the spanish white wines. No matter the style of wine you prefer, whether it’s sweet, dry or something in between, Viña Valoria has the best spanish red wine for you!