Spain has the world’s largest acreage under vine but due to its dry and challenging soil its presence on the international market has remained limited. Although there are over 600 indigenous Spanish varieties planted throughout the country, only 20 grapes make up the vast majority of Spanish exports. The ease at which Spain can ripen grapes and the long aging times that occur in the winery, keeps the wines competitive in the international market.
In Spain, the wine making philosophy is to elaborar (to elaborate) rather than fabricar (to produce/make) the nature of the grapes and the wine they produce. Between the incredible value offered by Spanish wines and rapid winery modernization, we’ve greatly expanded the country’s offerings on our shelves in just a few short years.
Knowing about the ageing categories for Spanish wine can be helpful when selecting a wine providing you with some insight into the style of the wine and it’s flavour.
Joven – Wines that bottled in the year following the harvest.
Crianza – Red wines must be aged for a minimum of 24 months, 6 in small oak barrels. White wines and roses must be aged for at least 18 months with no oak ageing requirements.
Reserva – Red wines aged for a minimum of 36 months, minimum 12 months in small oak barrels and the remainder in bottle. Whites and roses must age 18 months total, 6 months in small oak barrels and the rest on bottle.
Gran Reserva – Only produced in the best vintages. Reds aged a minimum of 5 years, at least 18 month sin small oak barrels and the rest in bottle. Whites and roses must be aged for 48 months with 6 months in small oak barrels and the rest in bottle.
Note, the ageing requirements for Rioja and Ribera del Duero are slightly longer than the above for the Crianza and Grand Reserva designations (to further complicate things!)