And Now For The Whites
Of course, Spain doesn’t just produce red wine. There are a number of areas producing white wines, and in recent years there has been a rapid expansion in the production of rosadao (rosé) wines, using a variety of grapes. Indeed, in the summer I drink rosado in preference to red for the very simple reason that unless you chill it in the fridge, red wine is just too warm to drink, whereas rosado is designed to be drunk chilled. Let’s not get into that area though; let’s look at white wine, and let’s track our way across the peninsula from west to east. We first encounter the Rías Baixas region in Galicia. Rías are fjord-like inlets around the coast of Galicia, and give the region a climate highly suited to the production of white wines. The grape used, native to Galicia and not encountered elsewhere in Spain is the Albariño. All are extremely drinkable, some are of impressively high quality. Travelling east, we next come upon the region of Rueda, and its predominant grape, Verdejo. Rioja and Navarra also produce their fair share of white wines, using the Macabeo and Viura grapes, as well as a little Moscatel. The Basque country produces its own distinctive Xakolí, which is a bit of a Marmite. Crossing to the Mediterranean coast of the peninsula, Valencia produces sweet Moscatels, suitable for use as dessert wines, and pretty inexpensive, but the main white wine region in the north east of the peninsula lies in Cataluña, broadly between Tarragona and Barcelona. This is the home of Cava! Cava is a white sparkling wine; indeed it is the largest selling sparkling wine in the world. It is produced using the ‘método tradicional’. Since I am not offering it for sale, I am able to upset certain French producers and tell you that this is Spanish champagne. However, whereas the French predominantly use Chardonnay to make their fizz, the Catalans blend three local, traditonal grape varieties, Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. They do so to very good effect. Moreover, the cost of bottles of cava and champagne of equal quality means that you get far more bangs for your buck drinking cava - and for me, far more enjoyment, too. You can buy good cava for around 10€ a bottle (£8.50 at today’s exchange rate) and for 20€ euros and upwards you are drinking a superb wine. So that is all I have to tell you about wine in Spain, apart from this little gem. Hunting for a UK source for a particular white wine (Dry Libalis) for some friends, I came across this online wine seller, which I would recommend if you want to put any of what I’ve written recently to the test: www.vinissimus.co.uk If you do put me to the test, please let me have your thoughts.