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Tuesday, 17 August 2021 03:09

The Ten Best Spanish White Wines: A Beginner’s Guide

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As the global popularity of Spanish wine grows, more exciting options are becoming available in restaurants and wine shops. While many people are familiar with Spain's premium red wines from regions such as Rioja and Priorat, the country also produces stellar white wines. These wonderful – and often underappreciated selections – represent a great value with excellent variety and versatility.

Like its red wines, Spain's white wines are labeled with their appellation of origin – or Denomination of Origin (DO). This designation represents the grape's place of origin, and typically each DO will specialize in one or more different wine styles made from specific grapes. For those new to Spain, knowing what to expect can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the region. 

Below is a breakdown of some of Spain's most popular (and delicious) white wines. This list includes their region of origin as well as the primary grapes from which the wines are made. Use this as a guide to expand your understanding of Spanish wine.

TWO SPANISH SPARKLING WINES FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS

1. Cava de Paraje Calificado (Xarel.lo, Macabeo & Parellada)

Cava is the traditional sparkling wine of Spain; its distinct and appealing flavor profile is defined by three native grapes: Xarel.lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. This premium category of cava was introduced in 2015 and requires a minimum of three years of aging before release, giving it a rich texture and depth of flavor that stands up to any Grand Cru Champagne. This is an excellent alternative to your typical high-end sparkling.

2. Clàssic Penedès (Xarel.lo, Macabeo & Parellada)

Similar to Cava in both grape varieties and production method, Clàssic Penedès comes exclusively from the Penedès region of Spain (Catalunya) and offers an equally exquisite high-end sparkling experience. This category has very strict requirements for production and can only be made from 100% organically-grown grapes. This region is the first 100% organic sparkling classification in the world.


TWO RICHER SPANISH WHITE WINES FOR CHARDONNAY LOVERS

3. Valdeorras (Godello)

Chardonnay lovers, meet Godello. With a flavor profile of golden apple and citrus, this grape variety is best known from the region of Valdeorras in Galicia. Wines made from Godello can be reminiscent of white Burgundy, with great acidity and a creamy weight on the palate. They have the potential to age and develop in the bottle but do not be shy about enjoying them now.

4. Rioja Blanco (Viura)

While famed for its age-worthy red wines, Rioja's white wines are gaining well-deserved attention. Viura is the regional name for Macabeo (the same grape used in cava production). These wines represent incredible complexity and body well-suited to those looking for a substitute to Chardonnay. Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva categories also see time in barrel, adding flavor and textural nuances to wines that can age for several years.

THREE REFRESHING SPANISH WHITE WINES FOR EVERYONE

5. Rías Baixas (Albariño)

Perhaps the best known and most widely loved white wine of Spain, Albariño comes from the Rías Baixas region in Galicia. These wines are aromatic with great acidity and notes of apricot, mandarin, and a saline minerality, inspiring visions of their coastal origins. They are the perfect pairing for seafood, salads, cheeses, or to enjoy anytime on their own.

6. Rueda (Verdejo)

Step aside Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo from Rueda is here to take your place! Some of the country's zestiest and most versatile white wines come from this region in the Duero River Valley. With crowd-pleasing acidity and refreshing citrus flavors, Verdejo wines from Rueda can easily grace any dinner table. Look for wines made from old vines to show even more concentration and depth.

7. Terra Alta (Garnacha Blanca)

The Terra Alta region in Cataluña is revered for its wines made from Garnacha Blanca. This white mutation of the Garnacha Tinta grape (also known as Grenache in France) shares the same peppery zest, but also intriguing florals and notes of green stone fruit and pear. It is refreshing with great complexity and texture; this Spanish white wine holds up well throughout an entire meal.


THREE SPANISH WHITE WINES FOR SOMETHING DIFFERENT


8. Txakoli (Hondarribi Zuri)

This white wine from the Basque region of northern Spain is made from the unusual varietal Hondarribi Zuri. Three regions in País Vasco produce Txakoli: Arabako Txakolina, Bizkaiko Txakolina, and Getariako Txakolina. These wines are incredibly bright and mineral-driven with tongue-tingling acidity and sometimes even a slight effervescence. They are the ultimate poolside wine.

9. Ribeiro (Treixadura)

Treixadura is another Spanish grape with a tongue-twisting name, but do not let that stop you from experiencing its delicious iterations. It is commonly found in the Ribeiro region in Galicia. These delightful wines are fresh with notes of lime, cucumber, and stone fruit. They are best enjoyed in their youth, so it would be perfect as your Tuesday night wine.

10. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry (Palomino Fino)

Palomino Fino is the grape responsible for the majority of one of Spain's most famous wines – Sherry! Often incorrectly assumed to be sweet, traditional Sherry is bone-dry with unique aromas and flavors derived from the use of solera aging. Not for the faint of heart, Sherry wines should be tried at least once by everyone and are best experienced with food. Look for a refreshing Fino or Manzanilla to pair with almonds, charcuterie, or seafood, an expressive Amontillado to enjoy with poultry or grilled vegetables, or a nutty Oloroso to compliment richer meat dishes and stews.

The white wines of Spain are a unique opportunity to further explore this incredible country and expand your palate. While they often represent some of the world's best values, these wines also offer a glimpse into the tastes and traditions that make Spain one of the most important and vibrant wine countries in the world. ¡Salud!

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Sasha DeJaynes

Sasha is CEO and founder of Vinolust, an organization based in Orange County, California, specializing in online wine education and boutique wine travel adventures. She is also the Administrator and SWS instructor for Neptune School of Wine.

1 comment

  • Comment Link Yoshi O'connor Friday, 20 August 2021 20:01 posted by Yoshi O'connor

    Great quick read, and I love the reference list of solid Spanish wines, AND the not-so well known whites as well. My knowledge of Spanish wines is limited, and the Txakoli is definitely new to me; I'm going to check that one out! Sasha is a wonderful instructor, I've enjoyed taking many of her in-person (once upon a time!) as well her current online programs. I just popped an Albarino in the fridge for later... Salud!

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