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Northern Spain

About Northern Spain

Due to the diverse range of microclimates, soils and maturation techniques, there are vast stylistic differences among the wines of Northern Spain. The wines of Spain’s leading red wine region, Rioja DOCa, are constructed predominantly from Tempranillo with smaller percentages of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano to fill out the blend. Classical Rioja yields muted red fruit flavors with accents of vanilla and dried dill due to the time spent in American oak. Southwest of Rioja in the Castilla y León autonomía lies the Ribera del Duero DO, a region characterized by its continental climate and vast diurnal swings. Producing wines that are darker and often more intense than Rioja, Ribera del Duero’s blends must contain a minimum 75% of Tinto Fino (the local clone of Tempranillo) with Garnacha and often a touch of international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for added dimension. Nearby, the Toro DO is stylistically similar to Ribera del Duero, offering massive, alcoholic, ripe reds. On the northeastern coast in the autonomía of Catalonia, Spain’s other DOCa wine region, Priorat, produces predominately red wines based on Garnacha and Cariñena. Here, the llicorella soil, a blend of black slate and quartzite, creates wines of impressive power and structure. Grapes grown on Priorat’s precipitous slopes have no trouble ripening: The blistering summer heat can push potential alcohol levels to 18%, if gone unchecked. Spain’s fresh white wines can be found in the northeastern autonomía of Galicía, which boarders Portugal. Here, the cool maritime climate is responsible for producing crisp, peach- and floral-scented wines based on the Albariño varietal. To find the best that Northern Spain has to offer, visit the Northern Spain Wine Guide for our recommendations.