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Spanish wine guide: Whites

Nothing is more refreshing than a cold glass of white wine on a hot day, and there is no better excuse than an afternoon in Ibiza to discover Spanish whites. Step out of the comfort zone of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to explore the authentic vino blanco of Spain.

Albariño

The finest whites in Spain come from Rias Baixas in Galicia. The cool, damp climate is completely different from Ibiza and produces fresh, complex wines. Albariño is fantastic wine alone or with food, as it has both rich fruit and high acidity. It is typically dry, with lots of peach, melon, apple and melon flavour. This is one to pack for a day out on the boat, or a picnic in the campo.

Verdejo

If you want to impress your wine-expert friends, bring them home a bottle of Verdejo. It is grown almost exclusively in Rueda, in north-central Spain. It has a sharp mineral edge like a good Pinot Grigio along with tart citrus reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc, but is quite distinctive. Young Verdejo is packed with citrus limon, lime and grapefruit with a grassy note. As it ages it gains the taste of toasted almonds. Perfect with a posh dinner of fresh fish or seafood.

Malvasia

This is the chief indigenous white grape of Ibiza. It may have originated in Greece and has been grown around the Mediterranean for millennia. In all likelihood the Phoenicians cultivated it on the island. Today it is used to make wines that range from light to full-bodied. Depending on the climate it can be sweet, floral or dry. Be sure to try a bottle of Ereso from Can Rich Bodega, located near Sant Antoni. This blend of Malvasia and Chardonnay is a ripe blend of peaches and pears.

Viura

You may not have heard of Viura but it plays a major role in two of Spain’s biggest wine products: White Rioja and Cava. It is the most-produced white in Rioja and a bottle of white from that region must contain at least 51% Viura, often blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

You won’t see the name on a Cava label, because Viura is also known as Macabeo—one of three grapes along with Parellada and Xarel-lo, that create Spain’s answer to Champagne.

Xarel-lo

Another one of Cavan’s three components, Xarel-lo is also used to make white wine. It is a very aromatic grape and some experts say that’s what gives Cava its distinct character. Xarel-lo, on its own, is medium-bodied and quite acidic, with an abundance of citrus flavours and crisp apple. It is an easy-going wine you can enjoy as an aperitif or with simple summer food like salads or a slice of quiche.

With options ranging from light to complex, there is a Spanish white for everyone. The biggest challenge can be keeping it chilled on a blazing day. We recommend small pours and a big ice bucket!

About Cila Warncke

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