The White Wines of Spain

The Wine Girl

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Spain’s refreshing and complex whites are ideal for warmer weather, entirely versatile, and food friendly.  There are dozens of outstanding bottlings of Spanish whites to love, notably from Rioja, Rueda, and Rías Baixas.

Rioja
Rioja is Spain’s most loved wine region, praised for its bold reds. The whites are made mostly from Viura and Tempranillo Blanco grapes. Viura is a somewhat neutral grape, like Chardonnay, it takes on characteristics of the winemaking style like lees aging and batonnage. When grown at low yields and matured in French oak (like Muga Blanco) it can produce bold, concentrated wines that can age and improve for years.  Tempranillo Blanco makes wines with racy acidity and delicious flavors of lemon, grapefruit and pineapple.

2017 Muga Blanco $16.99
Complex aromas and flavors of fennel, lime, and peach with a slight hint of toast.

2017 Lacrimus Rioja Tempranillo Blanco $14.99
Intense aromas of tropical fruits and lime. Full-bodied with a long finish.

Rueda
Rueda stands out from its famous red wine producing neighbors, Toro to the west and Ribera del Duero to the east, since it produces almost all white wines.  Don’t let the low prices fool you, these are high quality and delicious wines!

The region used to produce nutty wines in an oxidative style like Sherry until the 1970s when the acclimated Marqués de Riscal winery in Rioja decided to make wine from the local Verdejo grape and showcase its fruity character.  Marqués de Riscal invested in modern winemaking equipment like temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and they followed modern techniques. It was their investment that helped propel the region on a global stage and transform it to what it is today.

Rueda’s vineyards are planted at high altitude, creating drastic day to night temperature swings which help Verdejo grapes retain acidity and freshness. The extreme continental climate here is very hot in summer and cold in winter with very little rainfall.  Luckily, Verdejo can withstand the droughts.  Dry farming is also common.  Verdejo produces wines with lovely notes of apple, pear and peach complemented by an appealing note of fennel.

2019 Balnea Verdejo $10.99
Winemaker Maria Jesus Hernandez is one of the few female winemakers in Rueda. Maria’s family have farmed vineyards for generations, but she is the first winemaker in the family.  Balnea’s vineyards are located on a high altitude plateau. The low fertility limestone and gravel soil and drought-like conditions produce low yields of highly concentrated grapes. Balnea shows flavors of citrus and herbal notes with a creamy and delicate texture.

2017 Calamar Verdejo $14.99
Calamar is a classic expression of Verdejo, aromatic, herbaceous, fresh, and elegant.

Rías Baixas
Winemaking in Galicia dates back 2,000 years to the time of Roman rule. The rich tradition of winemaking here and the diverse microclimates allows for the production of fresh, ripe, and complex white wines. Galicia has five major classified wine regions, Rías Baixas on the Atlantic coast, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras, and Monterrei, which are all much smaller and further inland.

Rías Baixas is the largest DO (designation of origin) in Galicia. Directly bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Rías Baixas is Spain’s most westerly DO. It has a maritime climate with warm summers, mild winters, and lots of annual rainfall.

95% of grape production here comes from the Albariño grape.  It is considered Spain’s quintessential white wine. Albariño is ideal for the damp climate as it can fight off rot with its thick skins.  It also ripens fully in most years due to the warming climate.

The sea influence is prominent and the wines display a briny, salty character backed by zippy acidity. The granitic soils in Rías Baixas create wines with complex, stony minerality. The soils are free draining, which is important in this wet climate, and helps to ensure that the roots are not logged in water. The wines show off lovely citrus, green apple, lemon, grapefruit and peach, sometimes with a floral note. They pair wonderfully with the local delicacy, pulpo (octopus).

2018 Viñabade Albariño $14.99
Fresh, floral, and very fragrant. Notes of nectarine, peach, and lemon zest.  The round texture and creamy mouthfeel make this wine a tremendous value.

2018 Raiolas D’Outono Albariño $15.99
Elegant and lush, this wine is another great example of the complexity possible from Albariño. Honeydew melon, apple blossom, and salty flavors.

2018 Granbazan Etiqueta Verde Albariño $19.99
Etiqueta Verde is fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank and aged on the lees for four months before bottling, giving a round texture. This is a classic Salnés Valley style.  It’s dry, floral, with crisp acidity, and elegant salty finish.

Elyse Genderson is the Vice President of Schneider’s.  Visit her at the historic storefront to discover wines you’ll love.