Feature Coverage

Mediterranean Spain: Where to Start?


The sprawling area of Spain’s Mediterranean rim starts in Catalonia and sweeps south and west through Penedès, Tarragona, Valencia and Murcia, then west to Andalusia. It also includes, for obvious reasons, the island of Mallorca. The range of wines produced from these sea-influenced zones is staggering, from bone-dry bubblies to structured, world-class reds and some of the most decadent sweet wines in the world.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in many ways Penedès was the region that pushed Spain’s red wines into the international spotlight. Based on Bordeaux varieties but almost exclusively Cabernet Sauvignon, Familia Torres made a huge splash when their 1971, 1982 and 1985 versions of the flagship Gran Coronas Black label (now named Mas de la Plana) took top rankings when tasted blind, in high-profile competitions against some of the top wines of Bordeaux and Napa Valley. For most wine lovers at that time Spanish red wine meant Rioja, full stop. Many of the country’s other red wine-producing DOs hadn’t even been established yet or had minimal distribution, even if they had been producing serious wine for years. Plenty of people were shocked, hopefully pleasantly so, when they realized the massive potential that was at hand for varieties other than Tempranillo and for regions outside of Rioja. Today, Torres is still the pace setter here and, with large production and a worldwide presence, they are a highly effective leader of the zone.

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Mediterranean Spain: Where to Start?