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spain-vines.jpgUnsurprisingly, given its status as the world's largest producer of wine, Spain is perhaps the most diverse and difficult to understand.  Perhaps fifteen to twenty years ago the Spanish wine industry started to revolutionise the way vines were grown and wines were made, with new investment, modern technology, and a younger generation of vineyard owners and winemakers taking control.  Until then, the vast majority of wines throughout the country were produced much the same as they'd always been made.

Whilst difficult to pinpoint the precise moment this massive change commenced, by the turn of the 21st century  the revolution was well and truly underway.  Today there are exciting producers in all of Spain's major wine regions, and more high-quality wine being made (even by traditional producers) than ever before.  Spanish wine today is so much more than cheap, sickly Cava, oxidised Sherries, and tired, brown Riojas.  Regions hitherto unknown outside of Spain such as Priorat, Ribera Sacra, Bierzo, Toro and previously barely-known Ribera del Duero are today blessed with numerous top makers, producing a multitude of great wines.

spain-jamon.jpgAn interesting fact regading Spanish wine (and one that partially explains the quality of wine) is that more than 90% of vineyards are at altitudes above any in France.  The combination of altitude (resulting in cooler temperatures and greater diurnal variation) with a generally warm climate means vines ripen fully and consistently whilst retaining minerality and acidity.  Soils throughout Spain tend to be either limestone, schist or clay-based, and whilst rainfall is generally low, it is sufficient to produce quality grapes.

Spain is probably the most exciting wine-producing country in the world today, with incredible diversity in styles.  Well worth exploring further.

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