Spain, Victoria

Spain is definitely one of the new-world players to keep an eye on. It is the land of old-vines, american oak and sherry! The main varieties grown in Spain are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache) in the reds, and Airén, Viura/Macabeo, Verdejo and Albarino for the whites. Lesser grown whites include Palomino. Other reds successfully cultivated include Carignan, Mourvedre and Mencia.

Although Spain can be quite a warm country, the vast majority of vineyards are 600m or so above sea level, so the cooler nights allow the grapes to develop full colour and acidity.

Rioja is undoubtedly the long-standing king of all the Spanish wine regions, where Tempranillo and Garnacha are commonly blended. However more recently many more regions have come to the forefront of interest. Ribera Del Duero is producing excellent Tempranillo blends rivalling those coming out of Rioja. Jerez in the South is the home of the fortified wine Sherry.

Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. These include:
  • - Denominación de Origen Calificada (formerly called DOCa) Priorat calls itself DOQ for Denominació d'Origen Qualificada in Catalan and has a track record of consistent quality and is meant to be a step above DO level.
  • - Denominación de Origen (DO)- Used for mainstream-quality wine regions. Nearly two thirds of the total vineyard area in Spain is within the boundaries of a DO region.
  • - Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) - This is somewhat of a stepping stone to DO status.
  • - Vinos de la Tierra (VdIT) - A level similar to France's vin de pays system, where the regions are much larger.
  • - Vino de Mesa (VdM)- The equivalent of 'table wines' from France or Italy

The wine region of Victoria has the highest number of grape vines than any other state in Australia. It is home to over 600 wineries and well known regions such as Yarra Valley, Heathcote, and Rutherglen. Victoria is situated in the southeastern corner of Australia where due to the location, the climate has a cool maritime influence and is known for their outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with producing Australia's most famed dessert Muscat and Topaque wines.

There are a number of different terroir levels throughout the wine region of Victoria which leads to the production of different ranges of wines. In the southern region of Victoria, the vines are regulated by the cool winds of the Bass Strait. Central Victoria consists of mostly flat terrain that tends to be drier and warmer than the rest of Victoria, which results in more fruit concentrated wines. It may be surprising to note that Victoria is the third most productive wine region in Australia, seeing as it does not have as many areas suitable for viticulture, which has resulted in the cellar door culture of Victoria being concentrated with smaller, but more personal boutique wineries.
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