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5 Great White Wines of Spain You Need to Know

It seems that Spanish reds steal the spotlight in the Spanish wine world. I get it, the red wines from Rioja, Priorat, and Jumilla et al are fantastic. But the white wines of Spain are worth a look. Not only are they juicy, delicious, crisp, and exciting, Spanish white wines are usually an absolute bargain, some costing less than 10 bucks for really good stuff! Here are the 5 white wines of Spain to get your through spring and summer.

Albariño grapes on pergola trellising.

Spanish White Wine #1: Albariño

Albariño is a white grape you’ll find almost exclusively on the Iberian Peninsula mostly on the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal (Alvarinho in Portuguese). It’s the main grape of Rías Baixas in Galicia, Spain accounting for over 95% of total plantings. The Rías Baixas DO (Denominación de Origen) has 5 sub regions; Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnés, Soutomaior, O Rosal, and Condado do Tea.

What does Albariño look like?

Albariño grows best when it’s trained in a pergola trellising system called parras; meaning the grapes are grown overhead like a canopy. This allows even ripening and plenty of air flow to prevent rot from too much humidity. Harvest workers have to stand on ladders to reach the grapes which can be up to 7 feet off the ground.

Albariño has small berries with thick skins which help to protect from any extreme weather. In the glass, Albariño is a pale straw color with green highlight. Though rare, some Albariño is aged in oak barrels which gives it gold highlights.

What does Albariño smell like?

Albariño is on of the more aromatic white wines of Spain. It has lots of citrus notes of grapefruit, lime, and orange. It also has aromas of peach, green apple, and cantaloupe. Because of the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, there is often a salty, seashell smell in Spanish whites wines, especially those in Rías Baixas.

What does Albariño taste like?

Albariño is fermented to a dry to bone dry style. It is light to medium-bodied with lots and lots of acidity. A lot of citrus comes out on the palate and that salty characteristic shows up again. Generally, a very easy drinking wine.

3 Albariño Wines to Try

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white wines of spain
Garnacha Blanca grapes

Spanish White Wine #2: Garnacha Blanca

On the opposite side of Spain, in the east, we find the Spanish white wine from the grape Garnacha Blanca. The grape is a mutation of its red counterpart Garnacha Tinta; both are the same as Grenache Blanc and Grenache Rouge found just over the border in France. Garnacha Blanca has gained in popularity over the last decade because of the rich, creamy styles it can achieve. It’s a great alternative to Chardonnay. Plantings have followed suit and doubled in some regions. Garnacha Blanca is mostly found in Rioja, Navarra, and Aragón.

What does Garnacha Blanca look like?

The grapes of Garnacha Blanca are a pale yellow-banana color with medium sized berries. Garnacha Blanca is often aged in oak barrels which gives it a beautiful deep blonde color. When shopping for Garnacha Blanca it is almost always in a Burgundy bottle; meaning the bottom heavy bottles.

What does Garnacha Blanca smell like?

Garnacha Blanca smells like pineapples, pears, peaches, and lemons. Because Garnacha Blanca is usually aged in oak barrels it takes on baking spice notes like vanilla and cinnamon, but also coconut and dill from the American oak used in Rioja.

What does Garnacha Blanca taste like?

Garnacha Blanca is medium to full-bodied, it is the among the most full-bodied white wines of Spain. It has a creamy texture with mild acidity but high alcohol. Tropical flavors come out more on the palate and you may taste flavors that remind you of desserts like coconut crème pie or pineapple upside down cake.

3 Garnacha Blanca Wines to Try

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Spanish White Wine #3: Godello

Godello is the rarest grape on this list. Godello is pronounced go-DAY-yo. It was nearly extinct; plantings in Valencia slowly began disappearing after the phylloxera crisis. Then winemakers resurrected it on the opposite side of the country in Galicia, specifically in Valdeorras. Now, there’s debate on the origins of Godello. Some believe it is originally from a village in Valencia called Godella, makes sense. BUT it’s remarkably close in DNA to Portuguese varieties. If the dispute is ever settled, I’ll let you know.

What does Godello look like?

Godello is hard grape to grow. It’s early-ripening, early budding, and produces very low yields; meaning you don’t get as much wine from a vineyard of Godello as you would a different grape. Godello grapes are a pale yellow-green. Similarly in the glass, Godello appears pale yellow with hints of green highlights.

What does Godello smell like?

Godello is a bit of a chameleon and will take on characteristics from its environment easily. Some Godellos are produced light and tart and other winemakers make Godello in a richer style allowing extended lees contact or malolactic fermentation. Godello generally smells like tree fruit like pears, peaches, and apples but also takes on interesting characteristics like honey and ginger. Oak-aged Godello will smell like cream, vanilla, and baking spices as well.

What does Godello taste like?

Stainless steel fermented Godello is light-bodied with keen acidity. It tastes minerally with tart lemon and grapefruit notes. Godello that has been aged in oak, or has had extended lees contact, will be fuller-bodied with a creamy texture. The acidity remains but is rounded out by the fuller mouthfeel.

3 Godello Wines To Try

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White Wine of Spain #4: Verdejo

One of my favorite white wines of Spain is Verdejo. It grows almost exclusively in Rueda and has DO status. Rueda is located in Castilla y Leon in central Spain between Madrid and Galicia. Some Rueda wines are blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Viura, but the dominate grape is Verdejo.

What does Verdejo look like?

Verdejo grapes are light green and are tightly clustered together. The coolest thing about Verdejo (pun intended) is that the grapes are harvested at night when they are cooler and the acidity is locked in. In the glass, Verdejo is a pale straw color with silver highlights.

What does Verdejo smell like?

Lime, lime, and more lime. Okay, fine, Verdejo also smells like tropical fruits like mango and pineapple but it’s aromas are dominant in citrus notes like grapefruit, lemon, and, of course, lime.

What does Verdejo taste like?

Verdejo is light-bodied and tart. Verdejo has tons of acidity and is usually fermented quite dry. The lime follows Verdejo on the palate as well of notes of kiwi and mango.

3 Verdejo Wines to Try

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Viura grapes

White Wine of Spain #5: Viura

Viura is the white Spanish grape among a sea of red grapes in Rioja. In most of Spain, Viura is called Macabeo and is the main grape of Spanish sparkling wine Cava. Viura is an impressive Spanish white wine with immense ageing potential. Like many white wines of Spain, Viura can express as a light-bodied simple and fruity wine or be made into a Spanish white wine with immense character and complexity. Sadly or fortunately, this is usually reflected in the price.

What does Viura look like?

Viura is a high yielding grape with few risks in the vineyard. It’s a grape of abundance that can make quite a bit of wine. When it’s yields are controlled, Viura wines can be extraordinary. In the glass, Viura is straw-colored.

What does Viura smell like?

Viura is a fruity and floral wine with aromas of melon, apple, and white flowers. There’s also aromas of peach and grapefruit. With oak-ageing Viura will also take on coconut and cinnamon characteristics.

What does Viura taste like?

Unoaked Viura is light, fresh, and clean with balanced acidity. It’s citrusy on the palate and very easy to drink. High quality oak-aged Viura from Rioja has many layers. It can age well passed normal expectations of white wines. The apple flavors replace floral flavors and a cinnamon and toasty quality are expected. Over time, Viura takes on a earthy quality as well.

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white wines of spain

Honorable Mentions: Even More White Wines of Spain!

I need to mention Parellada, and Xarel-lo because along with Macabeo aka Viura make the Spanish sparkling wine Cava. Also worth mentioning is Airen; the most widely planted grape in Spain that serves as a base for brandy and is rarely made into a still white wine.

What’s your favorite white wine from Spain? Any Spanish white wines I missed?

Leave me a comment with your favorite white wines from Spain!

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