Over the past few years, a new player has been trying to join the elite winemakers like France, Italy, and the United States. Spain, once thought of only for producing cheap, unimpressive table wines, has entered a renaissance period. Not long ago, as recently as the 1990′s, many of Spain’s vineyards were operating in the old world method. As they had for centuries, wines were produced in mass quantities for local consumption, with little regard to quality. Winemakers were unable and unwilling to improve their product. Many factors contributed to the failing wine business in Spain. Infertile soil, insect problems, and a poor economy all stood in the way of turning one of Spain’s most valuable resources into a positive. With the help of outside investors, and a growing global interest in fine wines, Spain is finally taking its place amongst the world’s best winemakers.
Historically, Spain has always produced nearly as much wine yearly as France and Italy did. There was just never the same interest in Spanish wines globally, due to their poor reputation. Spanish wines were always considered price first wines, not taste first. The existing grapes were never really much of a question, it was always the methods. So with new outside financing and increased global interest, many Spanish vineyards started anew. Irrigation, computers, and shiny new stainless steel vats were introduced. These new world methods were combined with Spain’s old world vines and something magical started happening. Complex wines with intense fruity flavors were being produced from the very vines that were once only producing peasant wines.
Tempranillo, is the most popular grape varietal in the Rioja region. Existence of the grape can be traced back to the year 873. Where poor soil and old vines used to be a problem, they now produce a more unique, flavorful grape. Low yielding, weak crops have been improved by irrigation methods and more grapes can be salvaged via mechanical picking. The recent technological advances allow Spanish winemakers to produce a high quality wine at an affordable price.
Vina Eguia Reserva ( found online from $12.49-$19.99) is a great Rioja that has benefited from Spain’s wine making revolution. Reserva, for this bottle, means the wine has been aged for at least three years (two in oak). It is meant to be drunk today, but some feel it has the potential to evolve into a spectacular wine if allowed to age some more. Harvested from 30-year-old vines, Vina Eguia opens with an intense fruity aroma, with hints of citrus, vanilla and licorice. A very well balanced wine, there is a nice citrus burst to enhance the earthiness and spicy profile. Ideally served with grilled or roasted meats, it also pairs nicely with hearty seafood dishes, cheeses, and chocolate desserts.