White Spanish Grape Varieties
Because no great story ever started with a salad!…
Last week we brought you all of the juicy information about red grape varieties in Spain. of course, we couldn’t stop there without filling you in on the white Spanish grape varieties for all the white wine lovers amongst you. Read on to get to know your alboriños from your Macabeos!
Considered by many to be a strain of Riesling, this grape makes some of Spain’s most elegant white wines. This green-gold gold grape loves the warm and wet conditions of Galicia’s Rías Baixas region. It is here where it ripens early. If you like Sauvignon Blanc or dry fresh whites, this could be the wine for you. Albariño wines are aromatic, crispy and with a distinctive aroma. It produces high acidity wines, but also with high glycerine that gives them a silky and creamy like texture and finish.
Their bouquets are complex and varied, with notes of stone, and even exotic fruits with floral aromas and freshly cut grass. They also age very well and gain complexity evolving into greasier / buttery wines. Continue up the coast and you’ll find it under the name of Alvarinho in Portugal, where it makes single-varietal high acidity Vinho Verde wines.
Food Pairing: With a zesty edge that makes this white Spanish grape varietal refreshing and crisp it is a match made in heaven with seafood dishes and salads.
Verdejo is one of the most recent white Spanish grape varieties to arrive onto the international market. Grown in Rueda and used for grassy, fruity young whites. Verdejo typically makes aromatic white wines, with notes of citrus and melon, quite a tropical character. It’s known for its high acidity and adds body to blends with Sauvignon Blanc or Viura grapes. Just like their Sauvignon counterparts these wines have herbaceous notes. They also have outstanding acidity and the bitter finish that is characteristic of this grape.
Verdejo is popularly sold to be drunk young, but of course, some age incredibly in the bottle, as its high acidity can provide good structure and rich nutty flavours which can evolve.
Food Pairing: A fresh, bright and easy wine is perfect for the summer, right?! And so these wines pair great with seafood and salads and remarkably even asparagus which can be a tricky food to pair!
Many believe this to be the first planted grape in Spain. Although thought to be close to distinction the Godello has made a comeback and is actively being revived by Galician winemakers. This beautiful white Spanish grape varietal is the main white grape found in the beautiful Ribeiro wine region of Galicia. Valdeorras and of course Bierzo also produce fabulously rich and expressive Godello wines. It exudes depth and character and is ideal for ageing. Godello is a high-quality grape that produces very aromatic wines. Think green apples and texture, and in ripe vintages, stone fruit, like peaches!
Some people compare the best Godello wines from Valdeorras to top Burgundy. They benefit from lees contact and need some bottle ageing to acquire their best expression. Don’t miss out the opportunity to try these when you next see them on a wine list somewhere!
Food Pairing: Due to its texture and great structure, it can be paired with more than your average white wine. Yes, of course, enjoy it with salads and seafood, but chicken and pasta dishes also go great served alongside this popular white Spanish grape varietal.
In general, Garnacha Blanca produces golden-hued, full-bodied wines with a generous alcohol content and a lemon-like, mineral palate. This, therefore, lends them a soft and sometimes even floral finish. Its aromas include floral and citrus, as well as notes of ripe stone fruit like apricots. You will also find at times hints of dill, rosemary and other herbs.
This wonderful Spanish grape has been carving out a niche for itself by way of uniquely exquisite single-variety wines. It also continues to play a supporting role in blends from regions like Catalonia, Aragón, Rioja and Navarra.
TOP TIP: We love the wines by Vinyes del Domenech, from the young fresh Bancal del Bosc white to the complex and beautiful aged Rita. These are two must-try wines!
Macabeo / Viura
In Penedés where it is called Macabeo, it’s the fat and friendly part of a Cava blend! This grape along with Xarel.lo and Parellada is one of the region’s three most important varieties.
In Rioja or Navarra, it is called Viura. It is one of the second most cultivated white Spanish grape variety. The variety is perfect for ageing in oak. The still wines are pale yellow in colour, have floral aromas, and are crisp and balanced on the palate.
Xarel.lo (Pronounced Char-el-lo)
This white Spanish grape variety is a native to Catalonia. Most famous for the role it plays in our favourite aperitif here in Catalonia, Cava. Xarel-lo contributes intense aromas in the blend which many believe gives Cava its unique character. Xarel.lo wines are highly regarded for their bracing, lemon-like acidity and stone fruit flavours. The still wines are very textural, often with slightly vegetal characteristics on the palate. The perfect white wines to enjoy in Catalonia on a hot summer’s day!
Food Pairing: Cava pairs with a wide range of foods, asparagus or salads, anything deep fried, seafood, shellfish, vegetable dishes or a simple cheese plate; all the basics to create the perfect tapas spread. Welcome to Spain!
The best grape used in quality Sherry and Montilla production. It is aged and used to produce sweet wines. The grapes are dried in the sun, naturally concentrating their sugar content. The wines made from these dried-out grapes are then typically aged. It can also be used to make complex dry whites, namely in Malaga and Priorat. These wines can be incredibly unique and interesting, to say the least.
Food Pairing: Sweet wines are a match made in heaven with blue cheese or a dark bitter chocolate cake! Delicious!
The grape of Sherry was one of the very first white Spanish grape varieties to gain international recognition due to its important role in Sherry production. The variety is originally from Andalusia. It provides the lightest and freshest Manzanilla as well as the richest and most exotic amontillado or oloroso.
Food Pairing: Anchovies and pickled fish works particularly well with these complex white wines. Of course, almost all tapas also pair very with Finos in general, not to mention, also sushi!
Though unknown to many people, this Spanish white varietal is the world’s most planted grape in the world. The grape was traditionally used for the production of alcohol that served as the base for Brandy. This grape is highly resistant to drought and plagues. This is one of the reasons why it was planted so extensively after the phylloxera blight. Originally from central Spain, it has traditionally been mixed with other varieties. This is due to its extremely neutral aromas.
Of course, there are many other wonderful white Spanish grape varieties, some more unusual or not as commonly found. Why not come and learn about some more of our favourites. Join us for a wine tasting in Barcelona for an evening full of great fun and wines at the bodega. We would love to say Salut. If you have any other grapes that you would like to know about just leave us a note in the comments below!
Love & Wine,