Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry
About the Region
Spain is the third-largest wine-producing nation in the world, after France and Italy, with about 3 million acres planted to vines (this is more than any other country, but low yields in some areas reduce the total amount of wine that may be produced). There are said to be more than 400 grape varieties planted around the country, a good number of them native to Spain. Tempranillo leads the red grape plantings, airén (used mostly for bulk wine and brandy distillation) the white. Other important red wine grapes include garnacha (grenache) and monastrell (mourvèdre), both believed to be of Spanish origin; white grapes include albariño, palomino (used in sherry), and parellada and xarel-lo (essential to Catalonia's cava). Every important international variety — cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, syrah, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, etc., etc., is also grown. In addition to the world-renowned red wines of Rioja, Priorat, and Ribera del Duero and the increasingly popular whites of Rías Baixas, the cavas (sparkling wines) of Catalonia, and the nonpareil apéritif and dessert wines of the Jerez, or sherry, region, first-rate wines in every style and at every price range are produced in such places as Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Somontano, Cariñena, Bierzo, Cigales, Toro, Empordà, the region of Madrid, Utiel-Requena, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Valdeorras, various parts of the Balearic and Canary islands, and many more.