Spain is the country with the largest cultivated areas of wine grapes in Europe. It is best known for its robust red wines, but in recent years it has been producing a large number of different wines and high quality grape varieties.
The territory is very vast and characterized by different climates depending on the area: To the north west (Galicia, Basque Country) the climate is cool; in the north east/central regions (Rioja, Navarra, Aragon, Castile and Leon, Catalonia) the climate is temperate; in the central south (Castile - La Mancha, Andalucia, Valencia, Extremadura) the climate is warm.
Among the best known white wine varietals we find Albariño, Macabeo/Viura, Xarel-lo, Merseguera (Almansa), Hondarribi Zuri (Basque Country), Alcanon, Verdejo and others.
Let's review some of these grape varieties and their aromas.
Albariño and its aromas
Albariño (in Spanish) or Alvarinho (in Portuguese) is a white grape variety native to the north-western Iberian Peninsula. It can adapt to different geographical conditions, but prefers proximity to the ocean which gives it a slight salinity. It is most often grown from a single variety and produces refreshing and lively white wines with rich flavors and acidity.
In addition to Spain and Portugal, Albariño is grown in the United States (California), Uruguay, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. It prefers cool and temperate climates like Galicia, with a lot of sunlight. It is the basis of the Vinho Verde of Portugal and of more succulent wines such as the Rias Baixas of Galicia.
The bouquet of Albariño has aromas of nectarine, lime and grapefruit, with slight hints of honeysuckle and occasionally beeswax. On the palate, Albariño wines have a characteristic acidity that ends with salinity and sometimes a slight bitter note (such as green almond or citrus seeds). It is sometimes vinified with periods of barrel aging, which gives the wine notes of brioche. Rías Baixas wines are characterized by hints of apricot, melon, peach, honeysuckle and grapefruit. The characteristic aromas of Vinho Verde are melon, lime, lemon, honeysuckle and grapefruit.
Macabeo/Viura and its aromas
Macabeo is a grape variety grown mainly in Northern Spain (in Rioja, Rueda and other areas). It can be vinified alone or mixed with other grape varieties and gives life to both young and fresh wines and robust wines aged in wood. It is among the grapes at the base of Cava sparkling wine, with the Xarel-lo and Parellada grape varieties. Among the aromas that distinguish it are floral notes (acacia), ripe and tropical fruit (apricot, pineapple, ripe apple, mango), candied lemon, citrus, almond, and vanilla in the more refined versions. Wines produced with grapes grown in warmer climates produce more marked aromas of apricot and mango (e.g., Rioja), those produced with grapes from cooler areas or vintages produce more citrus and floral notes.
TasterPlace Aromas and “Spanish white wines (and grape varieties)”
There are many Spanish white wines with very varied olfactory characteristics. If you have the TasterPlace White Wine Aromas kit and want to train yourself to recognize some aromas present in Spanish wines, here are some suggestions of where you might find them more easily:
- LEMON: Verdoncho (La Mancha), Albariño, also floral and hydrocarbon notes
- CANDIED LEMON: Macabeo/Viura
- GRAPEFRUIT: Merseguera (Almansa), Hondarribi Zuri (Basque Country)
- PINEAPPLE: Macabeo/Viura
- PEAR: Xarel-lo mature pear
- GREEN APPLE: Alcañon (Somontano)
- YELLOW APPLE: Parellada, Macabeo/Viura
- ACACIA: Macabeo/Viura, Planta Fina (Valencia), Subirat Parent (Penedes), Malvasia de Sitges (Catalogna)
- SAGE: Verdejo (Rueda), Torrontes (Galizia), Alcañon (Almansa), Parellada , also aromatic herb notes
- CHALK: Palomino, also nuts
- HONEY: Petit Courbu, also hazelnut (Basque Country), Subirat Parent (Penedes), Malvasia de Sitges (Catalogna), Xarel-lo
- BUTTER: Garnacha blanca, also mature yellow fruit and almond notes
- BLACK CURRANT SPROUTS: Verdejo, Hondarribi Beltza, vegetal
- BREAD CRUST: Xarel-lo, for Cava, also peach, smoked, nuts (Catalogna), Hondarrabi Zuri (Basque Country)
To discover TasterPlace White Wine Aromas click here