The Arribes region lies along the part of the Duero River (which also runs through the Ribera del Duero DO) that forms the border with Portugal. Although there is a long history of wine making in this region, it is a young DO that has about 2,500 acres of vines. Juan García, Rufete, Garnacha, Mencía, and Tempranillo are the most planted varietals in this area. You can also find several white varietals: Malvasía, Verdejo, Albillo and Puesto en Cruz.

It is a Mediterranean climate with some Atlantic influences. There is light rain through out the growing cycle, and summers are hot, sunny, and dry. During the summers the slope of the land and the orientation of the mountainside augment the power of the sun.

The soil is sandy with loose pieces of granite and quartz. There are rocky outcroppings and small amounts of organic matter. The subsoil is perfect for drainage, and actually forms in such a way that helps to regulate the difference of daytime and nighttime temperatures. During the day the is soaked up into the ground and gradually releases throughout the night, creating optimal conditions for the maturation of the grapes.

La Mancha
La Mancha is the home of Don Quixote. It is one of the largest demarcated wine regions in the world, with almost 450,000 acres of vineyards. It is a flat terrain with red Miocene sediments of limestone structure. It is a continental climate, with cold winters (5°F) and hot summers (113°F). It is a dry and has 3,000 hours of sunshine every year. The annual precipitation is between 11 and 16 inches, and the microclimate of the area prevents moist winds from coming in.

This area is known for their production of the Airén for brandy production. But, a few of winemakers are now using this varietal to makie crisp, pleasant white wines. Tempranillo is the most common red varietal, but a great variety of both white and red varietals can be found in this region.

Navarra is known for it’s rosados, but more recently they have also been producing red and white wines. Subzones, from the warm and fairly arid Ebro valley to the cooler, wetter, and higher Sierra del Perdón just south of Pamplona, are an important element in understanding the DO. There is an extraordinary diversity of climate and landscape in this region. Their climate is marked by the confluence of the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Continental climates.

The most common native varietal is Garnacha, but in the past 15 years the amount of Garnacha has gone down by half. Now you can find many plantings of Tempranillo, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. There are some very dynamic families and producers in Navarra, and great value, as well as surprising wines, should remain the hallmark of the region.

Ribera del Duero
The fame of this region began with Vega Sicilia, a winery founded in 1864 by Don Eloy Lecanda. Up until a few decades ago though there were few people making wine in this region, it is now considered to be one of the premiere Spanish winemaking regions well known for its well-structured, bold, and fruity reds.

The valley of the Ribera del Duero folds around the Duero River and is nestled amongst pine trees. The soil has alluvial deposits that rise up through clays, sand, and chalk in varying amounts. Closer to the river alluvial soils dominate, but marl and schist are also found. On the higher hillsides and in the eastern part of the region limestone dominates. The subsoil also varies across the region.

More than 90% of the plantings in the region are Tempranillo (also called Tinta del País or Tinto Fino), although some of the 90% includes mixed plantings. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec all have been in the region for decade.

Perhaps the most important factor in the style of these wines is the drastic diurnal shift, it is not unusual that the temperatures to drop by as much as 50°F at night. The Tinto Fino loves this climate.

The name Rioja is a contraction of one of the tributaries of the Ebro River that runs through the area, the Río Oja. Rioja has been considered one of the finest regions of Spanish wines for the past two centuries. Although there is now a variety of styles being made in this region, the traditional Rioja style is exemplified by oxidative wines. The modern school of wine making, which started in the 1960s, emphasizes time in oak and seeks supple expressions and softer structures. There are also inky-dark, joltingly tannic, powerful wines being made in Rioja because of the influence from the internationlist school of winemaking.

Within the region there are three subregions: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, and Rioja Baja. Rioja Baja and Rioja Alta have similar soil types characterized by iron-rich, limestone-clay soils, interspersed with alluvial soils from the many rivers that carve through the area. Distinct to the Baja region is a laye of limestone that is often found less than a foot below the topsoil. As their names suggest there elevations are different, with Alta being higher. The Alavesa is at a high elevation and has chalky soils, which creates wines of less color and greater perfume, more longevity, and less power at birth. The traditional wines of Rioja have always used blends of wines from all three areas, although this is not as common now.

The entirety of the Rioja region benefits from the angle of the mountains that surround it. They are protected from the coldest of the Atlantic air masses but are still influenced by the nearby ocean. The angleof the mountains also allows for a Mediterranean influence from the south.

Over 80% of the varietals are red, with an emphasis on Tempranillo. There is also a good amount of Garnacha, especially in the Baja subregion. Small plantings of Mazuelo (Carineña) and Graciano can also be found. Among the white varietals Viura is the most widely planted, and is ideal for those interested in a fresher, more modern style. There are also some old Malvasía vines, which are traditional to the region.

The massive character of Toro’s full, plush, and sometimes overpowering Tempranillo-based wine is the result of the warm conditions, ideal exposures, and very friable soils. The elevation gives the wines structure, relative elegance, and ageability.

The elevations are slightly lower than Ribera del Duero to the east, the land is a bit flatter, and yields can be quite generous. But the happily vexing issue is how, even with higher yields, the wines can be so intense, which is true for both the older and younger vines. Some of the century–old bush vines offer yields that would make a young vine blush, and they lose not a bit of quality in the process. It's an amazing and intriguing region.

The soil is made up of sandy sediment, clay and calcareous conglomerates from the Pliocene. The materials alternate from loamy materials to large and fine grand sand, with limestone and detrytic marl formed during the Milocene. The climate is a dry continental climate with cold winters, and a lot of sun.

Valencia has been a wine city since the second century BC. Villanova was a Valencian who wrote one of Europe’s first wine treatises about wine, focusing on the production of wine and wine’s health benefits—which of course can now be backed by more recent studies. There were more vineyards a century ago then there are today, but there remain 42,000 acres of wine grapes, and some have said that as it is getting smaller it is also getting better.

Valencia is split into four subzones: Alto Turia, Valentino, Moscatel de Valencia, and Clariano. Alto Turia and Valentino are high up in the mountains on the northern side of the region. Moscatel de Valencia, which as the name suggests is well known for their Moscatel dessert wines, is close to the city of Valencia. Clariano is on the southern side of the area near Alicante. Vineyards in this DO can be found at sea level as well as high as 3,200 ft. The majority of the vineyards though lie at about 1,600ft.

Most of the vineyards include large proportions of limestone, but marl, clay, sandstone, and gravel can all appear and impact the wines. Grapes include all manner of Mediterranean and international grapes, as well as locals such as Merseguera, Malvasia, Pedro Ximénez, Pedralba, Planta Nova (a white, not Bobal), Tortosi, Verdil, Alicante Bouschet (yes, they call it Garnacha Tintorera), and Bonicaire.