SPAIN

Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.

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  1. LA RIOJA ALTA 2011 GRAN RESERVA 904

    Item #: i_380850
    Bottle Size: 750ML
    James Suckling: 96
    JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "Lovely dried red fruit, such as plums with just a hint of prunes. Cedar, walnut and leather undertones. Full-bodied with lots of fruit, considering its age, as well as hints of smoke, tobacco, bark and black tea. Some balsamic at the finish. Traditionally styled with lovely results. Drink or hold."
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  2. LOPEZ HEREDIA 2008 TONDONIA RESERVA

    Item #: i_380827
    Bottle Size: 750ML
    75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha, 10% Mazuelo & Graciano

    R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia is a legendary estate that makes wine in a style essentially unchanged since its inception in 1877. The British wine critic Gerry Dawes once referred to them as "the great virtual working wine museum" in Rioja. The oldest producer in La Rioja Alta, and the third oldest in all of Rioja, this estate has been family-owned and operated since its inception. Tradition and Patience are watchwords at this extraordinary estate, and to taste their wines is to glimpse another time and place-to grasp the meaning of Rioja and its traditions.

    Tradition. They grow all of their own grapes, ferment using only natural, ambient yeasts, and do not filter their wines. They're the last bodega in Spain to employ four full-time coopers to make their barrels on site, and there's not a machine to be found on the estate-everything is done by hand. This is 19th-century winemaking, in the purest and best sense of the words.

    Patience. This estate will not release a wine before its time, and doesn't think twice about holding onto a wine, sometimes for decades before it's released. In fact, their wines are routinely aged so long before release, that even their humble crianza could legally be labeled gran reserva! Their extraordinary and rare gran reservas-only released in exceptional vintages, perhaps three or four times a decade-are aged for an impossible eight to ten years in American oak and as much as ten to thirteen years in bottle prior to release. Yes, that's right-the most recent releases (if you can find them) are the 1995's!
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