While the reputation for Spanish red wines has been well established and renowned for their excellence, cellaring potential, and great value, it’s about time to give the white wines some equal praise and consideration.
Select winemakers recognize the unique terruños for crafting world class white wines, and the quality has never been better. What started out in Rioja - classic estates focusing on producing great vino blanco from the Viura (Macabeogrape - has spread to projects all over the Spanish winemaking landscape. From Albillo in the Ribera del Duero, the rise of Godello, Albariño and Treixadura varietals in Galicia, Xarel-lo in Catalonia, Garnacha Blanca in Priorat and Gredos, Verdejo in Rueda, pie franco Listán Blanco, Diego, etc. in the Canary and Balearic Islands, to the tide of unfortified Palomino Fino wines in Andalusia, Spanish white wines continue their ascent among the celebrated white wines of the world.
While most white wines are meant to be consumed within the first three years of each vintage, there is a tiny percentage of white grapes that have the ability and structure to last for a decade or more in the cellar.
To begin with, factors such as climate, soil composition, grape variety, elevation, etc. known collectively as terruño (terroir) is essential in determining a grape’s long-term potential. As in Burgundy, barrel fermentation, malolactic, and lees aging, all play a role in setting up a white wine for a long life ahead. In their youth, these white wines are highly concentrated and tightly wound, with high acidity. Extended aging in the bottle before winery release is another technique used to ensure initial readiness.
Winemakers focused on making great white wines share similar characteristics and goals. They farm organically or biodynamically, and use a mix of traditional and innovative techniques in the winery to craft the best wine according to the varietal while respecting the land and the viticultural history.
We’ve tasted many white wines from younger vintages, and also have had opportunities to try them with considerable bottle aging. Can’t say we’re surprised, just really impressed with the excellence in winemaking and evolution. The quality is so remarkable, the battle at the shop for shelf space to stock more whites than reds is real.
Wines should be stored on their sides in a cool, dry place or in a good wine fridge, kept away from oxygen exposure. Serve the wine at room temperature rather than too cold. Decanting can help bring out the full aromas.