As in all major wine-making countries in the world, Spain has its own system of quality control of local wines in accordance with their "appellations of origin" - Denomination de origen (D.O.) . Since 1932, Special Governing Councils have strictly monitored the observance of a number of restrictions: grape variety, number of plants and maximum yield per unit area, terms and conditions of wine aging, peculiarities of production technology. The wine producer ( bodega ) deserves your attention , which received the right to indicate their DO area on the labels.
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In the extreme north-east of the country, in Catalonia, not far from Barcelona, there is D.O. Penedes , where Spanish sparkling wines are produced (“according to the traditional champagne method”) - the famous “cava” ( Cava ). Everyone has long known that real champagne can only be found in France, but the high quality of Spanish sparkling wine is recognized by both experts and consumers. You can also look at the process of its production in person. Thus, hundreds of thousands of visitors have already passed through the multi-storey cellars of the Codorniu wine-making company , where tens of millions (!) Bottles are stored and small electric trains run briskly, from the Spanish king Juan Carlos I to ordinary tourists from all over the world.
D.O. Alella is one of the smallest wine-growing regions in Spain, with only about 500 hectares of vineyards. But it is very well located - 20 km north of Barcelona. Good white semi-dry wines have always been made here. The grapes are grown at the foot of the mountain slopes facing the Mediterranean Sea; The unique microclimate of these places, with an average annual temperature of about 16 ° C, contributes, in particular, to good yields of the Chardonnay variety.
The Basque Country is the northernmost wine-growing region of Spain. Here in the small vineyards in the harsh climatic conditions (low temperatures, rainfall, constant wind from the sea) silent Basques cultivate two unique grape varieties of which produce wine under the title "chakoli» ( Chacoli ). Astringent, light (9.5 °) white wines, for which not very ripe grapes are selected, go well with local seafood and are amazingly combined with local rabbit dishes.
The world famous wine region of Rioja is located off the beaten track in the Ebro Valley, with the Cantabrian mountains shielding it from the north. It is believed that the tradition of winemaking in these places is about 2000 years old. The local red wines - the pride and glory of Rioja - are made mainly from Tempranillo grapes . If the label simply says Rioja , it is usually young wine, bottled for sale in the first year.
The Rioja crianza mark means that the wine has spent at least one year in oak barrels and some more time in the bottle, and it does not go on sale until the third year. Better yet is the reserva category: a year in a barrel, a year in a bottle and sale not earlier than the 4th year. But best of all, Gran reserva is a wine from the best harvest years, it is aged for at least 2 years in barrels and 3 in bottles, and they start selling it not earlier than the 6th year. Rioja wines go well with dishes from almost any meat.
In the east of Spain is the Costa Blanca with an international airport in Alicante. The closest wine region is called D.O. Alicante . White, rosé, and young light red wines are good here. The local specialty is the unique red wine Fondillon with a strength of at least 16 °. It is produced from Monastrell grapes and aged from 8 to 20 years or more in oak barrels.
In the south of the country, in Andalusia, there is the world famous "sherry triangle" between the cities of Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar de Bar rameda, where only real sherry can be produced - very dry to very sweet. A rare combination of natural conditions, special grape varieties ( Palomino , Pedro Ximenez , Moscatel ) and a unique production technology (the so-called solera ) have been producing amazing results for several centuries.
For different types of sherry wines, quite strict alcohol limits are set: fino and manzanilla - at 15.5-17 °, amontillado - 16-18 °, oloroso andpalo cortado - 18-20 ° each . The symbol of one of the largest producers of sherry - the mighty black bull - has successfully coincided in the minds of millions of people on different continents with the image of Spain itself, its huge images stand on the roadside hills in the most unexpected places, adorning the restrained Spanish landscape. The classic Spanish dry-cured ham, the famous Jamon , is ideally combined with dry sherry.
In the same Andalusia, another wine-growing region is also known - D.O. Malaga . The main wine-making area is located along the Costa del Sol and north of Malaga. It is believed that the first vineyards were laid here by the ancient Greeks or even the Phoenicians - lovers of sweet and strong wines. Malaga dulce wines are made from berries that, after being harvested, are specially dried in the hot sun on special mats to achieve an even higher concentration of sugar. Sweet wines from Malaga are usually consumed with desserts or after meals as a digestif. Most often the label says “ sirvase frio"-" serve chilled ", although there is a group of so-called" hot "wines served at a temperature of about 20 ° C, which allows you to experience their rich bouquet and aroma as much as possible.
The island of Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Local winemaking has been known since Roman rule, that is, more than 2000 years, but the region received official status ( D.O. Binissalem ) quite recently, in 1991. in general, the island through and through, which gives a special flavor to the Mallorcan wines. Liqueurs based on local herbs enjoy a well-deserved popularity far outside Mallorca. Small bottles of the original shape with sprigs of unknown plants inside go well as souvenirs.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Its main wine-growing regions ( D.O. Tacoronte-Acentejo or Valle de la Orotava ) are located in the north and northeast. Tiny vineyards, terraced down from the volcanic slopes, produce excellent wines, suffice it to mention the red Balcon Canario or the white La Isleta .
Finally, D.O. Vinos de Madrid . Yes, the capital of Spain can offer its wines too. True, the vineyards here are not located within the city, but nearby - to the southwest and southeast. Although wine has been made in these parts for 400 years, the D.O. status was assigned to Madrid only in 1990. The peculiarities of local wines are associated with a pronounced continental climate - very hot summers and very cold winters. Mostly young wines are produced in the vicinity of Madrid for immediate consumption on the spot. The main grape is the red Garnacha .
And finally - the legendary " sangria " (with the correct accent on "and"). In fact, this is not a wine, but a kind of cocktail based on dry red wine, to which a little sherry brandy, orange juice and chopped fruits are added.