Types of white wine in Spain
There is a wide variety of types of white wine in Spain spanning the whole country with different characteristics, colours, ageing, grapes... A whole universe of whites!
Obviously, white wines differ from reds and rosés mainly in the type of grape used to make them: white grapes. Plus, white wines tend to have a different ageing process than red wines, based on whether they are considered Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva.
In this article, we’ll see different types of white grapes from Spain, and different types of white wine based on carbon dioxide, sugar and ageing. Here we go!
Types of white wine in Spain by grape
Dozens of white grape varieties are grown in our country, but we’re going to look at some of the most well-known.
Type of white grape originally from Rueda, in Valladolid. Wines made from this grape are mainly known for being light bodied, highly aromatic and having balanced acidity. One good example is El Coto Verdejo. Have you tried it? It has fine and intense aromas of tropical fruit, fennel and aniseed.
It’s true that Chardonnay grapes are originally from the Burgundy region of France, but they are now grown in many areas of our country, especially La Rioja. At Finca Carbonera, the highest altitude estate in DOCa Rioja, we make our 875m Chardonnay, a spectacular white wine with aromas of pineapple and vanilla.
In the third part of our wine dictionary we explained in detail the characteristic of Chardonnay grapes. Have you read it yet?
Albariño grapes are one of the most widely recognised in our country, mainly from Galicia. It is a small grape, fruity and quite sweet. Wines made from this grape pair wonderfully with fish or seafood.
We generally think of Grenache as a red grape variety, like the one used to make our El Coto Garnacha Crianza, for example. But there is also a white variety, native to Spain. It has floral and fruity nuances.
Viura grapes are very typical in La Rioja and Catalonia. They are used to make fresh, young wines that are also great for barrel ageing. For example, El Coto Blanco is a blend of Viura, Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc. It is fresh, citrus flavoured and pairs beautifully with roasted fish or seafood.
This is one of the most abundant wines in our country, found in Castile-La Mancha and Madrid.
As we said at the beginning, there are many more types of white wine in Spain, but these are some of the most important ones. If you want, you can learn more in Vinetur magazine.
This grape, originally from the French region of Bordeaux, is also quite common today in various types of white wines in Spain. It is a grape with mainly fruity, floral aromas, and we use it for our incredible Coto Mayor Blanco.
Finally, we can’t forget the Malvasia grape variety, given its importance in many aspects. One of the most curious and noteworthy: it is one of the oldest grapes in our country. This grape is high in sugar, making it perfect for sweet wines. Wines made from this grape are fresh and light, with deeply fruity aromas.
Types of white wine in Spain by carbon dioxide and sugar
Another way to categorise white (and rosé) wines in Spain is by whether (or not) they contain carbon dioxide. This gas is produced as the must ferments, although CO2 can also be added artificially. This is one of the traits easiest for consumers to identify, along with the wine’s sugar level, so we’re going to look at these two characteristics together.
Wines without carbon dioxide or still wines
Any type of white wine without carbon dioxide falls into this category. Here are the subcategories by sugar level.
- Dry: less than 4 g/l
- Off-dry: 12 - 18 g/l
- Semi-sweet:18 - 45 g/l
- Sweet: over 45 g/l
Wines with carbon dioxide or sparkling wines
There are two categories, based on what we call the wine’s atmospheres of pressure. This just means the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide in the wine, expressed on a scale of atmospheric pressure, with a maximum of 6 atmospheres of pressure.
- Semi-sparkling wines. Between 1 and 2 atmospheres. These are not considered a sparkling wine, as they have a tiny bit of carbon dioxide from the origin of the grape variety or how they are made but, once open, it is released without forming bubbles.
- Sparkling wines. More than 3 atmospheres. Champagne and Cava are considered natural, quality sparkling wines. However, sometimes this pressure is added artificially to the liquids. These are the subcategories by sugar level for white sparkling wines:
- Brut Nature: 0 - 3 g/l
- Extra Brut: up to 6 g/l
- Brut: up to 15 g/l
- Extra Dry: 12 - 20 g/l
- Dry: 17 - 35 g/l
- Demi Sec: 33 - 50 g/l
- Doux/Sweet: over 50 g/l
Types of white wine in Spain by ageing
Now we’re going to look at types of white wine based on how they are aged.
- Young wines: wine bottled within months of being harvested.
- Wines aged on their lees: wines that, after fermenting, are left to rest on their lees. They are more complex and fuller bodied. For our Coto de Imaz Reserva Blanco, the ageing on its lees in the barrel and the characteristic freshness of the high-altitude vineyard at the Finca Carbonera estates give it an extraordinary, persistent unctuousness and aromatic complexity.
- Barrel-fermented wines: wines that undergo alcoholic fermentation in a barrel (fully or in part). This gives them aromas from the wood and they last less in the bottle.
- Barrel-aged wines: after being fermented in the barrel, these wines spend 6 more months ageing there, which helps them last longer in the bottle. A good example is 875m Chardonnay.
If you want to keep learning about wines, don’t miss articles like this on our blog.