Spain has always made a lot of wine - and I mean A LOT! From the murky days of the 1970's, when Spain was capable of pumping out over 520,000,000 bottles of wine, much of which was destined for distilling due to poor quality, Spain has undergone a wine revolution, aided by money from the EU and a continual drive for quality and export (it is no secret that Spanish domestic wine consumption has more than halved in the last 25 years).
The whole of Spain is capable of growing vines, but the main regions are centred around the North and North West and cool regions close to coastal waters. Spains top region is Rioja, in terms of image, quality and production. In Rioja the mighty Tempranillo makes red wine, with the white Viura responsible for the crisp and delicious white wines. The region of Navarra, Rioja's nearest neighbour, is aligned with Rioja but is also home to international varieties. In Navarra it is possible to find some of Spain's best value red, white and Rose wines. Rueda makes fine and elegantly herbaceous Verdejo and Sauvignon, whilst Penedes, on the Eastern side of Spain in the region of Catalonia makes Cava, Spains finest sparkling wine from the local Xarel-Lo and Parellada grapes.
The North West of Spain has become increasingly important to Spanish wine exports, as this is the region where Albarino is made - in the cool and damp region of Galicia. Also here is the warmer and red-wine based region of Castilla y Leon, whose quality red wine region has to be Ribero del Duero. Ribero's red wines are made from Tempranillo and the style of wine is rich and firm, with good colour and a character that is more akin to Bordeaux than typical Spanish reds such as Rioja. The large inland plateau of La Mancha was where historiucally much of Spains over-production came from. A region of intense heat, large vineyards and very high yields. Much of that has now gone, but the inland region of La Mancha is still producing much bulk wine that is often sold domestically, or used to 'bulk' out house wines from wine suppliers who use UK bottling.