The Wine Grapes of Eastern Spain
From coastal regions to desert plateaus, the geography and topography of eastern Spain can vary quite a bit. This means that winemakers across its regions can dabble in different grape varieties, from exciting, under-the-radar local varieties like Bobal to classic grapes like the ever-popular Garnacha (Grenache as we know it).
We see familiar Spanish varieties like the red wine Tempranillo grape in eastern Spain (usually bottled under a local synonym for the grape). This is Spain's main red wine grape that offers unbridled pleasure with your favourite meat dishes. Tempranillo's juicy flavours from sour cherries and red plum to more savoury earth and leather capture Spain's terroir in the glass.
However, there are many other varieties which are worth seeking out.
Garnacha / Grenache
Probably the most famous red grape is Garnacha, glorious Garnacha, the grape responsible for the powerful, perfumed wines of Priorat and Spain's second most planted red wine grape behind Tempranillo. Garnacha is the same berry-scented, vibrant Grenache we know and love. Researchers believe the region of Aragon in Spain is the grape's original birthplace and it is still found planted throughout this region today. But it is the wines of Priorat which has elevated Garnacha to legendary status. Old vines are scattered across Priorat's sloping hillsides south of Barcelona inland on the Spanish coast. These are among the most collectable Spanish wines you can invest in.
Monastrell / Mourvedre / Mataro
Finding its home in the south eastern regions of Spain, Monastrell is a premium red wine grape often produced as its own wine as an intensely flavoured, tannic red wine. This grape we also know as Mourvedre in France and Mataro in Australia, and in Australia offers a key component of inky colour and depth to many Grenache and Shiraz blends (under the acronym GSM wines). Monastrell is native to Spain with its home today in Valencia and Jumilla on the south-eastern coast of Spain. Here the hot climate helps create wines that offer a vibrant yet deep, dark colour with rich blackberry fruit flavours and a good dose of tannin often also accompanied with some oak treatment.
Bobal is local to the area around Utiel-Requena, Valencia. This lovely red grape produces everything from richly hued rosés to dark, inky, tannic reds. While traditionally used as a component in blends, modern producers are growing Bobal in higher altitude sites to help emphasise its dark fruits and create a more balanced structure.
The Three Whites of Cava
Macabeo is a grape we've encountered before as Viura, one of the main grapes of white Rioja. Along with Xarel-lo and Parellada, these are the main grapes of Cava, Spain's much-loved sparkling wine. Macabeo is an acidic grape which is ideal for sparkling wine production. Xarel-lo adds aromatics and flavours to the blend while Parellada adds finesse. Together, they form the trio of classic Cava grapes and lend their profiles to what has become one of the world's favourite and best value sparkling wines.
Wines of every colour and style are made in Spain, making it a brilliant spot to check out if you want to shake up your wine drinking routine. A Bobal rosé to keep things light and easy drinking, Cava for celebrations, or a rustic glass of Garnacha to enjoy with dinner.
One thing is for certain, you'll never grow bored of Spanish wine.