D.O. Jerez – Xérès – Sherry
Sherries are such famous wines that they needed to be recognised in three different languages to avoid misunderstandings, copies, frauds, etcetera. (Jerez de la Frontera is the Spanish town that gives name to the entire wine region, Xérès is the French name for the wines produced in Jerez wine region and finally, Sherry is the English version for the same purpose).
Sherry wine region is located in the southwestern part of Spain, facing the Atlantic Ocean and it extends in between three towns forming a triangle: El Puerto de Santa Maria, Jerez de la Frontera and Sanlucar de Barrameda, where they grow two main varieties: Palomino and Pedro Ximénez.
History of sherry wines
The very first mention of a wine from Sherry region was written by Strabo, a Greek geographer that lived in the 1st Century BC. He said that the first vines were traded and planted by the Phoenicians (1100 BC) and this was proven by the remains of wine-presses that were found 4 km distance from Jerez. This confirms that Phoenicians traders brought vines from their original homeland (Lebanon) and some other territories along their trading bases in the Mediterranean coasts. They also founded some cities such as Gades (Cadiz) and Xera (Jerez). Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans also played their role in the history of this region. The South of current Spain knows as Betica Region became a Roman province by the year 138 BC and people from Cadiz (called ‘Gaditanos’), started exporting olive oil, wine from the region of ‘Ceret’ and the highly appreciated ‘garum’ (Romans loved this marinade sauce that was produced from salted fish leftovers). It is also proven by amphorae’s stamps that Sherry wine (known as ‘Vinum Ceretensis’) was travelling to the four corners of the Empire.
In spite of being part of the Muslim territories since the year 711 AD, Jerez remained an important wine producing area, even though the Koranic prohibition about alcohol consumption. In 1264, the Christian king Alfonso X ‘The Wise’ of Castile conquered Jerez and started a long period of violence due to its bordering position between the Christian kingdom of Castile and the Moorish kingdom of Granada. By the way, Jerez de la Frontera means ‘Jerez of the Frontier’ because of these historical facts.
It was about this era when Sherry started being exported to the kingdom of England, where they became famous as ‘Sherish’, the Moorish name of the city. This trade was even more intense when Henry I proposed bartering English wool for sherry wines. French and Flemish merchants increased the demand which led the town council to regulate all the details of the harvest, the butts features, the ageing system and trade procedures in 1483.
The sale of Sherry expanded to America and it was desired by both sailors and pirates. During the XVII and XVIII Centuries the trade with the Bristish Isles was very active and Sherry’s reputation owes its fame unmistakeable to the British which expanded their devotion for this beverage to their diverse colonies around the globe, even trying also replicate the original sherry in Australia, South Africa or Canada by creating ‘Australian Sherry’, ‘South African Sherry’ and ‘Canadian Sherry’. After the plague attack knowns as phylloxera in XIX Century, Sherry suffered a period of market-abstinence due to it was needed to graft the new planted vines with the American rootstock to become inmune against the pague. At beginning of XX Century a new problem would appear in the wine international scene: the usurping of many famous wines identity, and obviously this was affecting Sherry wines. It was in 1933 when the Spanish government created the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry to fight that problem, the first official D.O. of Spain.
Types of Sherry wine
What makes sherry wines so different? Why are sherry wines so difficult to produce?
You may have visited many wineries in your live, but if you have not visited one of the wineries producing sherry you are missing something different. A winery visit to one of the wineries producing sherry is quite an experience. Their architecture, but specially the way these wines are produced are very different from other traditional wineries.
Depending on the must features, the winemaking process, the ‘criadera-solera’ ageing system or the ‘encabezados’ or ‘cabeceos’ method (the resulting wine comes from different wines combination), it is possible to classify Sherry wines into three different kind of wines: Generosos (‘Generoso -or Generous- Wines’), Generosos de Licor (‘Liqueur Generoso Wines’) and Dulces Naturales –VDN– (Sweet Natural Wines). All of them are fortified wines.
Important Notice: there are another sort of wines called ‘Naturally Sweet Wine’ (known as VND in Spain, France or Italy). This case is for the grapes that get a very high sugar concentration when they are still a hunging cluster linked to the plant (1) or after being harvested but before fermentation (2). None of them are fortified. Some examples of VND -Naturally Sweet Wines- could be:
- (1) Late harvest: Fondillon (Spain), Navarra (Spain)
- (1) Ice wine (from frozen-grape harvest): Austria, Germany, Switzerland or Canada
- (1) Botrytis Cinerea (mould) considered a ‘noble rottenness’: Tokaji (Hungary) or Sauternes (France)
- (2) Sun-dried grapes: Malaga (Spain)
- (2) Indoors Air-dried grapes: Tostado do Ribeiro (Spain)
First approach to the Sherry Ageing Process: ‘Criaderas’ and ‘Soleras’
The Sherry ageing process takes place in ‘botas’ (American oak casks or big barrels of 500 litres) that are filled up about 5/6 parts leaving an air chamber to let the special local yeasts work on the wine surface (this film is called ‘velo de flor’). These rows of casks are located in different heights to develop the ‘criaderas’ and ‘soleras’ ageing system (also called ‘Sobretablas’). The target is getting homogeneous features with an even taste. The first row of casks that is on the ground is called ‘Solera’. The second row that is inmediately above is called ‘Primera Criadera’ (this could be translated as ‘First ageing row’). The third row located above the solera and the primera criadera is called ‘Segunda Criadera’ (‘Second ageing row’). The fourth row located above the solera, the primera criadera and the segunda criadera is called ‘Tercera Criadera’ (‘Third ageing row’). The system consists of racking part of the wine located on the highest level to the next inmediately underneath and so on. Take into account that the newest wines will get the highest level and go down little by little by mixing them with previous vintages for this reason we do not speak about a Sherry vintage. We do speak about the year of Solera (the very first year we started this process); let us explain it with an example: just imagine we are working for a winery that reserves a batch of wine to age it according to the ‘soleras and criaderas’ system. The winery prepares four levels with the same number of casks (they could be the higher the less casks as well). The first year we had 100% of our first vintage in the solera. The second year we do not sell our solera wine batch and then we could have a 50% of our production as solera and a 50% of our production as primera criadera (within our second and last vintage). The third year it should be 33-33-33. The fourth 25-25-25-25. In this case the fith year is when the ‘solera’ and ‘criadera’ system starts working due to we begin bleding different vintages. We empty 10% of the solera (the wine extraction is called ‘Saca’ and we put into this solera a 10% of wine from the primera criadera (the wine addition is called’Rocio’). Then we can rack another 10% of wine from the segunda criadera and bring it into the primera criadera and so on. The more years we keep this way of working the more blend of vintages we could find at the solera (the bottom part that will be for sale) and also at the lower criaderas (but not as much as at the solera). Obviously, the older the vintage is, the less presence into the final Sherry. If we drink a Sherry Solera 1860 this means the winery started this process that year and it will be a tiny remaining percentage of wine from 1860 into our Sherry bottle. We will find also a tiny but bigger percentage of the next vintage 1861 and so on… This is an amazing system that allows a wine lover to taste an unbelievable historical blend of vintages, this is Sherry!
According to the velo de flor, the final blends and the ‘soleras’ and ‘criaderas’ ageing process we have different sherries but we could classify them all into three main groups:
- 1. ‘Generoso’ Wines / (Fortified wines)
This is how the ‘Generoso’ wine producing system works: After harvesting and depending on the must features, the winemakers are going to sort the must by different qualities. They will bring this must into American oak casks and fortify it up to 15% by volume (by adding alcohol which has been distilled from grapes or other wines). This makes the environment into the cask unable to develop some sort of microorganisms that could affect or spoil the ‘velo de flor’ development (this process is also known as ‘biological ageing’). A ‘Velo de flor’ looks like a white foam layer that covers the fermenting must surface and gives the resulting wine its unique and distinctive features. Winery workers never fill the casks or the barrels up to the top by leaving an empty 15% to let this floating aerobic yeast grows on the surface and isolates the wine from oxigen contact. This biological ageing period is called ‘sobretablas’ and after one or two years, winemakers and profesional tasters are going to check and select if a batch is going to be produced as Fino or Oloroso. If a Fino is produced within a winery belonging to the town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, it will be called Manzanilla. Depending on the Fino evolution it could be transformed into Amontillado. Let us see those different options:
2 Manzanilla wine
These very dry white wines are obtained from palomino grapes by the wineries located within the municipality of Sanlucar de Barrameda. The berries are gently pressed and fermented afterwards under ‘velo de flor’, transforming the must into a final wine that has nothing in common with any other wine around the world: they will be dry, bitter and salty with a surprising bitter-punch due to the high presence of acetaldehyde and many recognizable bitter-nutty nuances.
But, why does it take place this weird-unique fermentation process for sherry wines? There is a combination of factors:
- Sherry wine region has a very special white soil known as ‘albariza’ which is very chalky and really poor about organic matter, but on the other hand it has a wonderful moist-retaining ability. There are even fifteen different types of albariza soils; the most important could be classified as:
- Tosca Cerrada (solid and dense, with low level of diatomaceus earth)
- Tosca de Barajuelas (lightest density, high level of diatomeaceus earth)
- Tosca de Lentejuelas (spongenous structure, high level of diatomeaceus earth, located near the coast).
- The short distance to the Atlantic Ocean that creates a microclimate environment.
- The changing winds influence, cool and wet from the West, warm and dry from the East.
- The amazing palomino grape variety adaptation to this specific environment.
- The relationship between the previously mentioned four conditions and the ‘velo de flor’ development which means the appearance of yeasts such as Saccharomyces beticus, S. cheresiensis, S. rouxii and S. montuliensis. These yeasts decrease the acidity level (specially the acetic acid concentration), ‘eat’ the glicerine so these wines result very dry in the mouth and also create acetaldehyde which is responsable of the unique bitterness of Sherries and in particular of the Manzanillas.
- The previous 5 bullets where realated to the entire D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. The present and the next bullets are only for a small part of it which is located to the nortwest and works as a separately D.O. due to its specific caracteristics: the D.O. Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda. There are some unique features to consider this area an independent D.O. within the Sherry one; the Guadalquivir river gets the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometres heading north creating a ‘Marisma’, a large flat wetland situated where the former river delta was. This creates higher levels of relative humidity and milder temperatures than those prevailing in the surrounding Sherry wine region. The D.O. Manzanilla-Sanlucar de Barrameda shares with the D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry both the wine production area and the protection by the same D.O. Control Board; and also both D.O. share the same grape varieties and production techniques.
- Manzanilla pasada (‘overpassed Manzanilla’) is a kind of Manzanilla wine that has been aged for longer than usual thus affecting the thickness of the ‘velo de flor’ which gets weaker and thinner, allowing a slight oxidation process and adding new ageing properties to the previously mentioned ‘biological ageing’ characteristics.
Once a Manzanilla wine has finished its fermentation process it is the moment to fortify the wine to 15% by volumen which facilitates biological ageing (the velo de flor will keep working on the wine surface even after the common fermentation that changed the must into wine). Of course, this process shoud be carried out in a bodega located in Sanlúcar de Barrameda or the resulting product could not be called Manzanilla (for the rest of the Sherry wine region this type of wine should be considered as a Fino wine).
The color that defines a Manzanilla is a bright and pale yellow. Its aromas recall to chamomile (by the way, chamomile is translated as ‘manzanilla’ in Spanish language), almonds and dough. On the palate, the manzanillas are dry and fresh with a bitter aftertaste. These wines pair perfectly with salads, cold soups, dressings (because of their low acidity), also with nuts, olives, raw (sashimi), salted (anchovies) or smoked fish (salmon) as well as cured meat such as ham (‘jamon’), dried beef (‘cecina’) or dried tuna (‘mojama’). The best serving temperature ranges from 6 to 8 °C degrees (43-45.5 °F) and its alcohol content is around 15% by volume.
Fino is a very dry white wine made from palomino grape variety within the wineries of El Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez de la Frontera. As a Manzanilla wine, Fino is ‘biologically aged’ under ‘velo de flor’ which is a film of yeasts that is covering and ‘working’ on the wine surface (remember casks are not filled up to the top). These wines are aged in American oak big barrels or casks called ‘botas’ (500 litres) and they could follow (or not) the unique and traditional ‘soleras and criaderas’ ageing system.
The rest of the process, the final product, serving and pairing, are all very similar to a manzanilla wine, so what does it make them different products?
As we said the environmental conditions are milder and more humid where Sanlucar and its manzanillas are, due to this the velo de flor is thicker and stays on the wine the whole year which gives a smooth chamomile and salty touch. The velo de flor is not able to stay on the Fino wine the entire year because it is a thinner layer, therefore these wines have more almond and bitter-punch notes on the nose and are slightly more coloured, with pale-golden reflections. The best serving temperature ranges from 6 to 8 °C degrees (43-45.5 °F) and its alcohol content is around 15% by volume.
We wrote before about ‘Manzanilla Pasada’, a kind of wine where a small concentration of oxigen could appear affecting the process and the final result. An Amontillado wine is made with palomino variety and has a dual aging process; there is a first under velo de flor period, typical of Manzanillas or Finos biological ageing; that is followed by a second period in which the velo de flor disappears (little by little it gets weaker) and the wine is going to be exposed to an oxidation process (what we could consider a common barrel ageing process but in a much more stronger way, because the barrel is not filled up to the top as it is in a still wine). And of course, this oxidative ageing use to follow the ‘soleras and criaderas’ ageing system. Due to these dual steps (biological and oxidative), Amontillado wines are extraordinarily complex and fascinating.
The charming color of an Amontillado traps your sense of sight because it looks like a potion containing a shining topaz and amber dilution. It has an elegant and subtle wooden bouquet that releases aromas of hazelnut, herbs and tobacco. Depending on the dual ageing, some Amontillados have yeasty notes because of its biological ageing, otherwise some other Amontillados are releasing spicy wooden notes due to their predominant oxidative barrel ageing.
Their peculiar dry and intense flavours are considered phenomenal for ‘risky’ pairings such as asparagus or artichokes. They are also great to match soups, dried or cooked tuna, wild mushroom stews, roasted chicken and semi-cured cheeses. Amontillado wines should be served between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F) and due to their composition Amontillados are able to be stored within their bottle for several months (obviously once they have been opened or uncovered for serving they have to be covered again). Their final alcohol content ranges from 16 to 22%.
Oloroso wines are made from palomino grapes as Finos, Manzanillas or Amontillados are, but these wines are more focused on the oxidative ageing. As we said before, they ‘suffer’ the biological ageing as well but at the very end of this process (one or two years later) an experts comitee will decide if a wine is going to become Fino or Oloroso. Those wines with softer nutty aromas and with a drier and bitter taste will be developed as Finos. The other ones will be Olorosos (it makes sense, the oak ageing will give them a richer and more complex palette in aromas and bouquet).
Once the winery has decided which batch will become into Oloroso, some alcohol that has been distilled from grapes or wine (in a distillery not in a winery) will be added from 15% up to 17% by volume (so an Oloroso wine has been fortified twice). With this amount of alcohol the ‘velo de flor’ will not be able to develop itself again on the wine surface and only the oxidative ageing will take place resulting a wine both complex and structured. Remember the oxidative ageing is stronger than the common oak-aged still wines due to the empty room the Sherry casks have… and also this ageing process use to follow the ‘soleras and criaderas’ ageing system. Why an Oloroso wine has 19 or 20% by volume? It is as simply as a result of the long ageing period in which a percentage of the water that a wine naturally contains is evaporated; therefore alcohol or aromas are more concentrated.
As any other white wine, the darker these wines are the longer they have been aged. Their color ranges from an intense amber to a deep brown-mahogany. Olorosos have overall a toasted and walnutty bouquet, but they are rich in a wide range of aromas such as spices, hay, tobacco, truffles, leather and balsamic notes. They are also noble-elegant, dry but smooth, structured, well-rounded, powerful, full-bodied and flavoured in the mouth. These wines pair perfectly with meat stews, stakes, game, wild mushrooms and well-cured cheeses. Serving temperature should be between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F) and due to their composition Olorosos are able to be stored within their bottles for several months (obviously once they have been opened or uncovered for serving they have to be covered again). Their final alcohol content ranges from 17 to 22%.
As a curiosity, Scotch whisky distilleries demand the off-used Oloroso casks due to the amazing range of flavours they ‘provide’ to their whiskies.
ü Palo Cortado
What if a wine is not evolving the expected way but even getting wonderful features? The D.O. Sherry defines a Palo Cortado as a wine that combines the subtil, fine and elegant nose as an Amontillado with the pleasant deeper structure in the mouth as an Oloroso. Palo Cortado wines were created as a necesity when the development of an Oloroso was detouring to another end. Some say that Palos Cortados are accidental wines, some others say that they are pure art.
Once the winemaker decides using a fine must for Palo Cortado, it is fortified up to 15% alcohol by volume and the casks are marked with a sloping line or a slash (‘palo’ in Spanish). After completing the ‘sobretabla’ process (the biological ageing), if the professional tasters realize about the presence of certain very specific features in some of the casks in which the velo de flor has been kept, they will mark again the cask as a potential Palo Cortado wine by drawing a short horizontal line across the previously marked with the slash. This wine will be fortified again up to 17% by volume, therefore beginning the process of oxidative ageing that usually follows the traditional ‘soleras and criaderas’ ageing system.
The color ranges from Chestnut to Mahogany with a fine complex bouquet which releases some characteristic notes of Amontillados and Olorosos. The aromas recall to orange peel (bitter) and fermented butter (lactic). Palo Cortados are rounded, silky, aromatic and with delicate lingering finish. These wines are considered ‘Meditation wines’, ideal to be sipped and slowly appreciated.
Palo Cortados pair with rich soups or creams, thick stews, gelatinous meat, bitter nuts or cured cheeses. Serving temperature should be between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F) and due to their composition Palo Cortados are able to be stored within their bottles for several months (obviously once they have been opened or uncovered for serving they have to be covered again). Their final alcohol content ranges from 17 to 22%.
- 8. ‘Generoso’ Liqueur Wines / (Fortified wines)
A Generoso Liqueur Wine is a wine obtained by combining a Generoso Wine with a Sweet Natural Wine or, sometimes, with concentrated must. We can sort them by their sweetness but all of them have a sugar content over 5 g/l. These are the three types of Generoso Liqueur Wine:
ü Pale Cream
In the previous chapter we have learnt biological ageing (under ‘velo de flor’) produces a delicate nutty style but it also increases a dry sensation. Pale Cream is a type of Sherry for those who want to enjoy a velo de flor wine, but in a sweeter and smoothy way.
To get a Pale Cream is more common by using concentrated must as a sweetener, (‘must’ is a freshly pressed grape juice containing the pulp, skins and seeds) better than a Sweet Natural Wine. This addition of natural sugars preserves the original pale straw color to the final blending. Pale Creams were regulated by D.O. Sherry in the 1960s so they could be considered a modern concept due to their relatively recent incorporation to the Sherry’s portfolio. The final alcohol content goes from 15 to 22% and they should be served chilled, between 7 and 9°C (44.5-48 °F).
As their name anticipate, Pale Creams range from a pale straw to a pale golden color. Their aromas remind hazelnut and dough due to the ‘under velo de flor’ fermentation and also the sharp bouquet of the oxidative ageing process. These wines are not rich unlike they result fresh and light in the mouth and thanks to the added must there is a delicate and pleasant sweetness that decreases the bitterness and dryness created by the velo de flor fermentation. Pale Creams are ideal to pair with foie and even with fresh fruits such as pears.
A ‘Medium’ Sherry is a Generoso Liqueur Wine produced by blending a Generoso wine (Amontillado or Oloroso) and a VDN (Sweet Natural Wine) or a concentrated must. The most important rule to define a Medium Sherry is according to its amount of sugar, which should be between 5 to 115 g/l. A wine labeled as a ‘Medium Dry’ ranges from 5 to 45 and a ‘Medium Sweet’ goes from 46 to 115 g/l.
Medium sherries have an attractive color ranging from amber to dark chestnut. The smell recalls amontillado sherries with a pleasant touch of quince jelly, apple pie and bakery notes. These wines start slightly dry in the palate and become sweeter with a smooth aftertaste. Due to these features they pair perfectly with spicy food such as Indian or Thai cuisine, and also with quiche or paté. Their best service temperature has to be between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F).
A Cream sherry is a Generoso Liqueur Wine elaborated by blending an Oloroso or a Palo Cortado (oxidative ageing wines) with a percentage of concentrated must or Sweet Natural Wines (VDN). The sugar content of a Cream Sherry exceeds 115 grams per litre. Those Creams obtained from a type of Sweet Natural Wine known as Pedro Ximenez can be called ‘Sweet Oloroso’ wine (remember that Pedro Ximenez is a grape variety that gives name to one type of Sweet Natural Sherries –see next chapter–).
The color ranges from chestnut to mahogany nuances with a dense and oily rotation into the glass. The aroma recalls to an Oloroso sherry with also a hint of roasted nuts, nougat and caramel. These sweet wines pass though the mouth in a pleasant velvety way.
Serve them between 10 and 12°C (53.5-57 °F) and pair them with fruits such as melon or orange and also with pastries, ice-cream, foie gras and blue cheeses.
- 9. Vinos Dulces Naturales (VDN or ‘Sweet Natural Wines’) / (Fortified wines)
Moscatel sherry is made from Muscat of Alexandria variety (called ‘Moscatel’ in Spanish) after sun-drying the berries which increases a lot the sugar concentration and stopping afterwards the fermenting must by fortification process (adding ethanol that was sourced from pressed wine leftovers). If they used Muscat raisins the final wine can be called Moscatel de Pasas (‘made-of-raisins Moscatel’). Ageing process will be exclusively oxidative which increases aromatic concentration and complexity increasing complexity but keeping the characteristic freshness of the Muscat variety.
Ranging from chestnut to an intense mahogany in colour, with a pronounced density and tearing. The intrinsic varietal notes of muscat are related to jasmine and orange blossom along with honey, lime, grapefruit, leading to a slightly bitter and dry finish. Serve between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F) and pair with fruits or ice-creams.
ü Pedro Ximénez
Pedro Ximénez sherry is obtained from sun-dried Pedro Ximenez grapes (raisins). Those overripened berries will provide a must with a very high sugar concentration. The must fermentation is fortified (stopped by adding ethanol that was sourced from pressed wine leftovers).The ageing process will be exclusively oxidative, giving the wine a wide and complex range of aromas but preserving the intrinsic freshness of this ‘called-as-a-person’ variety. Its dark color looks like ebony, resulting thick and dense to the sight because of its prominent gliceric ‘legs’ (those running-down drops within the glass walls). This sherry is considered one of the sweetest wines in the world thus is not a wine to be drunk in large quantities; on the contrary this wine should be tasted by sips, taking your time, enjoying its amazing range of aromas such as raisins, figs, dates, syrup, dark chocolate, toasted coffee, cocoa and liquorice. It has also a velvety and lingering pass through the mouth.
It should be served between 12 and 14°C (53.5-57 °F) pairing with not too sweet desserts or bitter chocolate, ice-creams and blue cheeses such as Cabrales, La Peral, Valdeon, Picon Bejes-Tresviso or Roquefort.
How to store a Sherry
Sherry bottles shoud be stored in vertical position at a fresh and dark location. Finos and Manzanillas do not have a long life so they should be consumed in one year after being bottled. Once they have been opened they should be covered and set in the fridge for no longer than two weeks.
Amontillados may be kept for 2 or 3 years within a closed bottle. Once they have been opened they should be covered and set in the fridge for no longer than two weeks.
Oloroso, sweet and/or cream sherries could be stored for a very long time. Once they have been opened they should be kept at a fresh and dark location like a basement or a wine-cellar.
Did you know?
Rioja has improved a lot in recent years in everything connected to grape selection and the attention and care put on the vineyard. Wines follow today longer maceration periods to extract more tannins. The result is wines with deeper aromas and more concentrated flavours.
The price for wines in the Rioja wine region vary a lot from wine to wine. Young wines and crianza wines can be found at very reasonable prices. The prices for Reservas and Gran Reservas increase considerably, whilst the most fancy, “author wines” can reach stratospheric prices altogether.
As we have mentioned above, most of the wine in the Rioja wine region is red (around 90% of all wine produced) The production of Rosé is minimal, whilst white wines cover for almost the remaining amount. Most white wines are produced with Viura Macabeo) though other grape varietals can be used such as verdejo or malvasia (normally blended in very small amounts). Viura can produce complex white wines. In the past many wineries produced whites that were aged for long periods in oak barrels. But the market for those wines dropped in favour of more fruity wines and most wineries gave up the production of those rare and complex white gems.
We will not end this section without mentioning the complex reality of the Rioja wine region.
The wine producing region is divided into 3 sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. Rioja Alavesa is located North of the Ebro river and coincides with the part of Rioja which belongs to the Spanish Basque Country. Rioja Baja is located southeast of Logrono, whilst Rija Alta is located from Logroño to Haro, South of the Ebro river.
In order to add to this complex reality, the wine producing region of Rioja is spread in 3 administrative regions of Spain: Navarre, Rioja and Basque country…