Where can we find Catbariño?

The indisputable star of Atlantic Spain, Albariño has become the most well known white grape variety of the country. Viticulture here started in Roman times and the Camino de Santiago, one of the most important Christian pilgrimages linking Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, to Europe through Navarra and Rioja, brought to these regions new varieties from France in the middle ages.

The Phylloxera and the arrival of the railroad were also a key event when, again, new ideas and winemaking techniques found their way through the Pyrenees from neighbouring France and reshaped the industry. This influence made these northern regions the avant garde of the winemaking industry in Spain for centuries and, even today, they lead the wine exports for Spanish premium wine.

It’s not by chance that the most iconic Spanish brands and cellars are located within these regions.

Here, we will cover the main regions of Galicia and Euskadi, by far the wetter and greener regions of Spain thanks to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as Navarra, Rioja and Catalonia, with a Mediterranean climate but located at the French border and sharing in common its role as the gateway to France and Europe.








Galicia: More than Albariño

In the northwestern part of the country, Galicia is one of the wettest regions of Spain. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean means that temperature in the coast is cooler than in the rest of the country during the growing season and that fungal diseases such as mildew and rot are an important threat. On the other hand, the inland regions, isolated by mountains, usually experience some of the hotter temperatures of the whole country during summer. Viticulture here is a challenge and in Ribeira Sacra a terrace system similar to the one in place on the Douro valley has been developed. 

Rias Baixas: This region takes its name from a series of four estuarine inlets located on the southwestern coast of Galicia. 96% of the plantings here are from the variety Albariño and both grape and region are intricately associated in the minds of wine consumers. The strong Atlantic influence as well as its granite soils and steep slopes that favours drainage and allows for more concentrated flavours and aromas in the grapes are the main features that shape the style of wines produced here. Generally, wines from Albariño display high acidity, medium body and citrus and stone fruits aromas like lemon, lime, peach and apricot. 

✾ Valdeorras: Located further inland, following the Sil valley, this region surrounded by mountains enjoys a specific micro-climate with Atlantic and continental influences. Here, the Sil valley is flatter and vines are mostly planted in the alluvial plain close to the river. Frost is an important threat in spring while, in summer, excessive heat and violent storms are the main risks. Godello is the main grape variety planted here, accounting for 72% of the wine produced, followed by Mencía.

✾ Monterrei:  This inland region on the north shore of the Tamega river, bordering Portugal, it’s the warmest and driest region in Galicia. The Serra do Larouco range produces a rain shadow effect and the diurnal range during growing season can be up to 30º celsius. About 68% of the wine produced is white from the varieties Godello and Treixadura. The most important red variety is Mencía.

✾ Ribeira Sacra: The name of this region can be translated as sacred river shore. It takes its name from 8 monasteries that were founded in this inaccessible canyon formed by the rivers Miño and Sil. They planted vines for its own consumption creating a terrace system on the steep slopes called “heroic viticulture”. Harvest can only be done by hand as mechanisation is not possible due to the terrain. The most important variety is Mencia, a red variety originated in Portugal where it is known as Jaen do Dao. Godello, a native variety, is the most planted for white wine production.

Ribeiro: Ribeiro means river shore in Galician and takes its name from the fact that it is located on the shores of the Miño river. The narrow river valley forces producers to use in some parts of the region a terrace system called locally Socalcos or Bocaribeiras. 95% of the wine produced is white but here the most important variety is Treixadura, the same variety used in Portugal, on the southern shore of the Miño, for the production of Vinho Verde. The soils are also mainly granitic but the climate is less wetter than in Rias Baixas due to its location further inland and for being more protected from Atlantic storms due to natural barriers.



Galicia is a Spanish region lost in the mist, with a strong atlantic influence in its climate and celtic influence in its culture. In these mountainous lands, among impressive cliffs and green forest, the Albariño grape find the perfect conditions to ripe and give us wines with aromas of white flowers, lemon and lime.


When it stops raining, I love to go outside and hunt grasshoppers and other insects that may damage the vines. Sometimes I even bring my preys home to show them to my owners. When the weather gets cold and chilly, I just rest in my favourite spot, close to the fire. I love those days, as the house is full with the smell of toasted hazelnuts and it’s warm and cozy.


In the picture I’m wearing a traditional pilgrim costume. Did you know that Galicia has a town called Finisterre considered the end of the world (Finis Terrae)? In medieval times, people from all west European countries followed O Camiño de Santiago (Way of St. James) all the way to these lands to see the tomb of the apostle, bringing with them new grape varieties.

Euskadi: between the mountains and the sea

The Basque country can be divided into two main climate zones by the Basque mountains. North of those mountains, the climate is clearly Atlantic. Rains are very common all year round and fungal diseases are an important threat, especially mildew. The main production areas are focused on a white wine called Txakoli, with three main producing regions. South of the Basque mountains lies the Rioja Alavesa, a subregion of the main Rioja region, perhaps the most well known Spanish region inside and outside of Spain.

✾ Arabako Txakolina: This historic region that has produced wine since the Middle ages was awarded Denomination of Origin status in 1989, when only 5 hectares of vines were still producing Txacoli. Nowadays, the hectares planted are 95. Due to the high humidity, all vines are planted using the trellis system. 84% of the plantings are for the Hondarrabi Zuri variety, a white local grape variety that produces naturally fizzy wines. To achieve this, the wine is bottled with its lees, to trigger a second fermentation in the bottle. As it is the case of most Albariño wines from Rias Baixas, it is elaborated to be consumed young.

✾ Getariako Txakolina: This region is closer to the coast and is located only 30 Km from the french border, around the town of Guetaria. Coastal hills protect the vines from the strong Atlantic winds. The main variety is also Hondarrabi Zuri, making for the vast majority of the vines planted in the area, and the resulting wine is also bottled with his lees to trigger a second fermentation and produce a natural fizzy wine. However, the influence of the sea gives these wines salty notes that makes them different from the txakolis produced in other regions of Euskadi.

✾ Bizkaiko Txakolina: This is the most important region by extension and volume for the production of Txakoli, covering the entire province of Bizkaia. Most of the plantings are located north of the city of Bilbao, along the shores of the Ria of Bilbao. The climate of this region is cool and rainy and one of the main threats is late frosts. The main grape used is also Hondarrabi Zuri, a white variety bottled with its lees to trigger a second fermentation, resulting in a natural fizzy wine.


Check out these cool cat products with my Catbariño design:

Rioja: Where the modern Spanish wine industry was born

Rioja can be rightfully considered as the birthplace of modern viticulture in Spain. After the Phylloxera ravaged the french countryside, Bordeaux producers came to Rioja and Navarra to find a temporary source for red wine and brought with them a new winemaking approach.

Most of the wineries still standing today can trace their origins to this event and it’s not by chance that the epicentre of this revolution was located at the so-called Train Station neighbourhood of the city of Haro. Most wineries were built close to the train station so wine barrels were sent directly to Bordeaux.

Eventually, Phylloxera also arrived but modern winemaking techniques remained, becoming since then the leader in terms of premium wine production. Rioja is mostly famous for its red wine, however white wines are also allowed. The region can be divided in three main areas: North of Logroño, the capital of Rioja, lays the Rioja Alavesa. West of Logroño, we find the Rioja Alta, and the plantings on the plain east of Logroño are called the Rioja oriental.

Rioja Alavesa: Located between the Sierra de Cantabria mountains that shelter the region from the Atlantic influence, and the river Ebro, most of the plantations belong to small producers and are located at a higher altitude than other Rioja subregions. This is the centre of innovation in Rioja and the style of the wines usually aims to express the distinctive terroir. Carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration is not uncommon for the younger, fruitier styles of wines and oak maturation is used with care, usually in french oak, to retain the primary flavours of the grapes. Tempranillo is the main variety used, as it is the case in all Rioja, and it can be blended with Graciano to add extra acidity and spicy notes.

Rioja Alta: The heart of Rioja and home of some of the wineries that shaped the history of wine in Spain, Rioja Alta wines set the standard for the rest of the wines of this region. Oak maturation has a defining role and, while American oak is still the most used, some wineries use a mix of American and French or solely French oak in order to produce wines where wood is not so prominent. The best wine examples from this region can age for years in bottle gaining an amazing complexity with forest floor and mushroom notes.

✾ Rioja Oriental: The most fertile of the three subregions of Rioja, it’s located at a lower altitude and produces higher yields. The large volumes, inexpensive wines from Rioja tend to come mainly from this region. Tempranillo is the main variety planted, as well as in the other two regions. Other important varieties are Graciano, a red variety, and Viura, a white one.

Navarra: The capital of rose

✾ Navarra: Located at the beginning of the French branch of the Camino de Santiago, Navarra has always been at the crossroads of France and Spain. It received the same influence as neighbouring Rioja after the Phylloxera plague in France and most wineries were built along rail lines linking Rioja to France through this region. Most of the vines planted are from Tempranillo, a red variety, and red wines are the majority of production.

The second most important variety is Grenache. Navarra has become famous for its rosé wine from Grenache. To elaborate it, grapes are picked early, when sugar levels are low and acid levels are high, resulting in a style more similar to Provence or than any other spanish rosé . The rosés from Navarra are considered the best of Spain. White wine is also produced, mostly from Viura and Chardonnay, but it accounts for only a small percentage.

Catalonia: a land of diversity blessed by the Mediterranean

Located at the northeast corner of Spain between the Mediterranean sea and the French border to the north, Catalonia is home of some of the best Spanish wines, still and sparkling. Here, the climate is purely Mediterranean, with hot summer months that helps to extend the ripening season. Altitude, soil diversity and the proximity to the sea account for the diversity of regions Catalunya has to offer. The main ones are:


✾ Priorat: By far the most renowned region internationally, this region has made a name for itself thanks to their wines from all bush wines. One of the key factors here is the llicorella soils. These soils consist of layers of red slate with small mica particles that sparkle in the sun. During the ripening period they preserve and reflect heat, helping the grapes to ripen and counteracting the cool temperatures experienced at night. Also, because of their depth, these soils are able to retain water protecting the vine from summer droughts. Harvesting needs to be done by hand, as the steep slopes do not allow for mechanisation. The main varieties are Garnacha and Cariñena.

✾ Empordá: Northeast of Catalonia, just south of the French border, this region can be considered a continuation of Southern France. It enjoys a Mediterranean climate cooled by the Tramontana winds that flow from the Pyrenees mountains. Wine was introduced here by the Greeks, which founded the city of Ampuries in 575 B.C. 60% of the wine produced is red, from Carignan, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most important white varieties are Viura, Muscat and Chardonnay.

Montsant: This Denomination of Origin is located in a semicircle of mountains almost surrounding Priorat. Here we find a huge diversity of soils, altitudes and aspects but the rough terrain, the influence of the Ebro river and the cooling influence of sea breezes can be considered as common factors that shape the style of the wines from this region. Grenache and Carignan are also the most important varieties planted, followed by Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. White wine can be produced but it supposes only a minimal percentage of the wine produced annually.

Costers del Segre: This region located further inland it’s the first of Catalunya where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay were planted. Vines are planted between 200 and 1,110 metres of altitude along the river Segre valley. Soils are mostly calcareous, partially covered by sand. Due to its distance to the ocean, it’s the region of Catalunya that experiences the highest diurnal range. Both red and white wines are produced, mostly blends of local and international varieties.

Penedés: This large Denomination of Origin just south of Barcelona is the source of most of the wine produced in Catalunya. It stretches from the Catalan Coastal Range to the Mediterranean Sea and can be divided in 3 areas based on its altitude and proximity to the sea. The hottest area is the one located on the coastal plain. Between the coast and  the mountains the climate is slightly cooler but still warm and, at the highest vineyards, around 800 metres above sea level, vines enjoy a moderate climate during the ripening season. This allows for the production of a huge diversity of styles, depending on the grapes used. The most planted grape varieties are those used for Cava production: Xarel-lo, Chardonnay and Parellada, but production of red wine is also allowed within this Denomination of Origin. The region is mostly known for its sparkling wine, known as Cava, and made under a different regulation: the Cava Denomination of Origin.

Cava: The sparkling kingdom

✾ Cava : This is the only denomination of origin in Spain that is not defined geographically. Although the vast majority of production comes from the Penedés region, south of Barcelona and home of the most renowned Cava brands such as Freixenet or Codorníu, wines from the Denomination of Origin Cava can also be produced by certain wineries in Rioja, Requena-Utiel (Valencia) or Ribera del Guadiana (Extremadura).


The denomination of origin strictly stipulates which varieties can be used, the production method that must be followed and the number of bottles that can be produced per year. White cavas is usually produced from Viura, Xarel-lo, Parellada and Chardonnay, while rosé cavas are produced mostly from Grenache and Mourvédre, known locally as Monastrell. Although elaborated following the same method than Champagne, Cava tends to display lower acidity and a more approachable, easy-drinking style. The best examples can age in bottle for years.