Bordeaux. Burgundy. Barolo. Rioja. Just the mere mention of any one of these wine regions conjures images of the world’s best wines all sharing the ability to age for decades. The wines of Rioja have earned their place amongst this elite group; and whilst consumer tastes may swing like a clock’s pendulum, the practice of aging wines in Rioja helps define its successful past, present, and future.
Cosecha. Joven. Viejo. And the list goes on. Many wine-producing countries use local-language wine-related terminology without realizing their consumers are unaware of their meaning. Even native language speakers are sometimes confused by these terms as they are technical and/or relate to wine law.
No need to worry! Below is your very own Spanish Wine Glossary (in alphabetical order) providing the top 25 wine terms you need-to-know to navigate Spanish wine.
Galicia not only has an astonishing green landscape, but it produces some of the freshest and most vibrant wines in Spain. The wet, green corner of Spain is home to some of the steepest vineyards of the world, some which have an inclination of more than 100%! The diversity of the different wine growing appellations and the wide array of local grape varieties creates a fantastic diversity of styles to explore.
Jonas Tofterup, who is based in Spain, is the first Danish Master of Wine. He holds an M.Sc. in Viticulture and Oenology and has worked as a winemaker at a number of wineries, from the main wine regions in Northern Spain to Yecla, Stellenbosch, Baden, Rheingau and in Denmark. In 2015, Jonas moved to the commercial side of the wine world where he became the European export manager for Viña Valdivieso of Chile. Along with working for Valdivieso he is a wine consultant for ALDI Denmark and owns Iberian Wine Academy, a wine school which offers WSET qualifications based in Andalucía.
Ribera del Duero is an up-and-coming Spanish wine region, along the Duero River in central Spain. Its signature grape Tempranillo has found its place in high-altitude plateaus in this arid and demanding region. Vineyards are found throughout the valley between 750 and 1060 m shaping the style of wine. Local winemakers are carving a name for themselves in small rural communities totally off the beaten track.
Ribera del Duero wines are deep coloured, robust and powerful with an incredible ageing potential yet intrepid winemakers are adapting to world trends. There are some delicious easy drinking young wines on the market with even a white wine being added to the eclectic Ribera del Duero range.
Jeni Wilson an Australian/Scottish wine lover and English teacher arrived in the Ribera del Duero in 2001 and in 2004 opened her wine academy Vintage Class to teach English to the local wineries. She also became one of the first WSET centres in 2012 and now teaches the Spanish Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar programs. A holder of the WSET 4 DipWSET and High Honours in Spanish Wine Scholar, she is passionate about her local area Ribera del Duero where she has formed close relationships with local winemakers over many a glass of Ribera del Duero wine. She is a passionate Spanish wine lover and will happily travel all over Spain and the world visiting wineries as the learning curve never stops.
Jerez is among the older wine regions in the World, with nearly 3,000 years of continued wine activity. Over the centuries, wine production has evolved into very unique methods of production and a whole series of different wines of very strong identity, which were finally regulated under the first DO appellation in Spain, 85 years ago. But wine production continues to evolve in the Sherry region and local winemakers are now experimenting beyond the DO rules to find new ways of expressing the true identity of the Jerez soil, climate, and cultural roots.
Join us as we explore the key moments in the history of Sherry wines, understand how the DO was established, and investigate some of the new oenological developments in the region.
César was born in Jerez, Spain, and, although closely related to the world of the Sherry bodegas since his very early days, César started working as a firm consultant in Madrid. He returned to Jerez in 1985 to join the Sherry trade, first as an Export Manager at González Byass´ International Division and then at The House of Sandeman as Commercial Director, with marketing and sales responsibilities over both the Sherry and the Port side of the company.
In 2000 he joined the Consejo Regulador de las Denominación de Origen de los Vinos de Jerez as General Manager where he interacts with the more than 2,000 growers and approximately 90 bodegas (wine shippers). In his position, César spends a significant part of his time lecturing on Sherry wines and Brandy de Jerez, both in Jerez and internationally.
Apart from his position at the Consejo, César Saldaña is a member of some of the Spanish official bodies involved in the promotion, regulation, and protection of Spanish quality wines and spirits. He is also General Manager of the Regulating Body for Brandy de Jerez and President of the Ruta del Vino del Marco de Jerez, the leading wine route in Spain, with over 100 members and more than 580,000 visitors in 2018!
Are you ready to dive into one of the world’s greatest wine-producing countries? If so, our next Spanish Wine Scholar Instructor-Led course is about to start, and we would love to have you join us! If you still aren’t sure, then take a look at these ten reasons why you should be studying Spanish wine.
Garnacha (Grenache) is increasingly capturing the attention of wine enthusiasts around the world for its approachability, versatility and quality. As the variety continues to make its mark on the world wine scene, Spanish producers continue to innovate with a wide range of styles.
Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros Torres will lead us in a deep dive into Garnacha, covering varietal characteristics, the impact and importance of terroir in different producing regions, and winemaking trends with a specific look at Spain and the variety’s birthplace, Aragón.
Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW holds an Agronomical Engineer degree and a Master’s in Viticulture and Oenology. He received the WSET Diploma with distinction and became Master of Wine on the first try in 2010. Pedro also studied around the world, including in the wine regions of Jerez, Rheingau, Burgundy, Napa and Bordeaux. A columnist at several papers and magazines in Spain and Belgium, he also regularly writes for wine magazines in the UK and Italy. Pedro works in four languages. He is also a chair in major international wine competitions, including Decanter's WWA, Vinitaly's 5Stars, Concour Mondial Bruxelles, Bacchus and others.
Pedro is active in the fields of promotion and education and sits in the Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine, the governing board of the Spanish Taster Union, the Board of the International Federation of Wine Journalists, the Basque Culinary Centre's Wine Committee, as well as other institutions. He is also a national expert for Spain at OIV and a member of Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino.
Spain began linking wine to “place” early on. As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, the need for wine regulations became self-evident. The country was experiencing rampant wine fraud; quality wines were being diluted with bulk wine on a regular basis.
Rioja was a leader in the charge for legislation to guarantee wine origin. In 1902, a Royal Decree defined the origin of its wines by establishing a geographical link between the name of a product and the place where it is produced. Just a little over two decades later, in 1926, the first Consejo Regulador (Regulating Council) was created in Rioja. In the years that followed, Jerez and Málaga also gained regional protection.