Where can we find Catpranillo?

The central Spanish wine producing regions are a land of extremes.

Cutted away from the Mediterranean and Atlantic influences by mountain ranges, winters are cold and summers are hot with a huge diurnal range.

This is a land of tradition, home of some of the most prestigious wines, but also a land true to its origins where wines are faithful to their terroir. Some of these regions, like Ribera del Duero or Rueda, are already well known outside of Spain, others, like Bierzo or Toro, have already conquered the Spanish market but are still difficult to find in most international markets and some are just recently being rediscovered, such as Sierra de Gredos or Arribes,  






Castilla y Leon: A land of diversity

Located in the Duero basin, a river whose history is closely associated with wine in both Spain and Portugal, this huge autonomous province ecompasses the biggest number of wine regions of all Spain. From the well known Ribera del Duero to the wines from Sierra de Gredos, still fighting to be qualified as a Denomination of Origin, is a land of diversity that cannot be defined  by a certain style. 

The main wine producing regions are:

Ribera del Duero: East of Rueda, Ribera del Duero is the Denomination of Origin closer to the source of the Duero River. Altitude is higher, temperatures are the coldest in Spain, specially during winter, and late frosts constitute an important threat for viticulture. Traditionally well known in Spain for producing a fruity style of rosé wine for daily consumption known as clarete, it is now a region that produces almost exclusively wines from Tinta del País or Tinto Fino, the local names for a clone of Tempranillo. The grapes from this clone have more tannins than Tempranillo grapes in Rioja and almost all red wines spend a period in oak barrels to soften them and gain more complexity. Most of the wood used is American, giving the wine characteristic vanilla and smoky notes, but increasingly more producers are using French barrels to allow for wines that retain their primary flavours and express better their terroir. All reds and rosés are Tempranillo based while the only grape variety allowed for the production of white wine is Albillo Mayor. Most albillo wines spend some time in oak to gain more body and complexity.

✾ Bierzo: This region, isolated by mountains from both Castilla y Leon and neighboring Galicia,  is mostly renowned for its production of red wines from Mencía. As a natural wind corridor between the Atlantic and the Spanish inland, it still receives some oceanic influence and enjoys a climate similar to the Valdeorras region in Galicia. Wines produced here tend to display high acidity and red fruit flavours and the best examples come from old vines planted in the steep slopes of the valley. Producers tend to use new oak to add more complexity to the wines but an increasing number of producers are aiming for an unoaked style that can truly express their terroir.

Cebreros: Located south of Avila, in the northern slopes of the Sistema Central mountains, it is one of the newest Denomination of Origin of Spain, being granted such status in 2017. Albillo Real is the main variety planted here. It is related to Albillo Mayor, the only white grape variety allowed in Ribera del Duero, but it display more intense primary aromas. Albillo wines are generally aged some time in oak to gain more body and complexity. The second grape in importance is Grenache. Due to its isolation, it was the last wine region in Spain affected by phylloxera and it is not uncommon to find still pre-phylloxera vines on plots planted in sandy soils.

Valtiendas: Just south of Ribera del Duero, this small wine region centered around the village of Valtiendas, in Segovia, is renowned for its red wines from Tempranillo grapes. Tempranillo alone constitutes 75% of the plantings. Other important grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. The key factor that differentiates this region from Ribera del Duero is altitude and terroir: well drained soils covered with pebbles or stones absorb heat during the hot days and release it in the cold nights during the growing season, helping grapes to ripening, and its average altitude at 900 meters above sea level means that temperatures are cooler than close to the Duero river and grapes are able to retain more acidity as well as primary fruit aromas.

✾ Sierra de Gredos: The Sierra de Gredos already hosts three denominations of origin: Cebreros, in Avila, Méntrida, in Castilla La Mancha, and Vinos de Madrid. However there is a strong movement in the Spanish wine industry to create a denomination of origin called Sierra de Gredos that specifically covers the wines made on these mountains. Here, a combination of high altitude and old vines allows to produce some of the best examples of Grenache wines of all Spain. The main concern for wine producers is terroir and Grenache here is made in a style that enhances its natural concentrated fruit flavours and its minerality. Altitude, steep slopes and a microclimate more humid than other regions of Central Spain allows grapes to preserve high levels of acidity, developing a fresher style. Sustainable production is also a key factor here and Sierra de Gredos has become a reliable source for high quality organic wines.

✾ Sierra de Salamanca: This region southwest of Castilla y Leon, on the border with Extremadura, is part of the last frontier of wines produced in the Sistema Central mountains. Here, the main variety is Rufete, known as Tinta Pinheira in Portugal. Wine is mostly produced in terraces following the narrow valley formed by the Alagon river. Altitude can vary from 400 to 1,000 metres above sea level and, combined with aspect, constitute an important cooling influence. It’s also exceptionally humid for a Spanish region located inland, with a yearly average rainfall of 1,000 litres. Part of the region is located inside the Biosphere reserve Sierras de Béjar-Francia. Its relative isolation has allowed the preservation not only of indigenous varieties rarely found elsewhere, like Rufete, but also the survival of very old vines

Rueda: Located between Toro and Ribera del Duero, this denomination of origin is considered, together with Rias Baixas, as the best Denomination of Origin in Spain for the production of white wines. Its continental climate, with cool summer nights and a high diurnal range is key to preserve acidity on the grapes and, in hotter years, harvest might be performed earlier so grapes are not over-ripen. The signature grape is Verdejo, a variety that gives wines with a characteristic green rim, hence its name (Verde means green in Spanish). Sauvignon Blanc is also planted. All blends must have at least 50% of Verdejo.

Toro: East of Arribes following the Duero river, we find this Denomination of Origin that surrounds the town of Toro (meaning bull in Spanish). The main grape variety here is Tinta de Toro, a clone of Tempranillo that has unique characteristics that differentiate it from the Tempranillo wines of Ribera del Duero or Rioja. Darker in colour and higher in alcohol, they display intense fruit flavours and tend to have less freshness and acidity. Most of the grapes come from low yielding bush vines. For younger styles, wine is usually a blend of Tinta de Toro and Grenache. 

Arribes: Along the Portuguese border, in a land where the Duero river forms an impressive canyon separating both countries, we find this Denomination of Origin dedicated mostly to the production of red wine. Most of the region lies inside the Arribes del Duero natural park. Soils are mostly sandy, with granite and quartz pebbles, and the average age of vines is 65 years old, mostly of them bush vines. This combination of poor soils and old vines account for grapes with very concentrated flavours and aromas and the ability to age for years in bottle. The signature grape is Juan García, a variety that was planted in an extended area prior to Phylloxera but now can be found only in this region and in some vineyards of Ribeira Sacra. Other important grape varieties are Tempranillo and Doña Blanca (known as Roupeiro in Portugal). 

Cigales: Cigales is, together with Navarra, the most renowned Denomination of Origin in Spain for rosé wine. These wines are Tempranillo-based and have a darker pink colour , less acidity and more fruity flavours and aromas than the rosés from Navarra. Its size is small compared with nearby Ribera del Duero and Arlanza, to the east or Rueda, to the west and it comprises mostly the territory around the Cigales village, in the shores of a tributary of the Duero river.

Arlanza: Located north of Ribera del Duero, this Denomination of Origin also produces red and rosé wines from Tinta del País, the same clone of Tempranillo used in Ribera del Duero. It takes its name from the Arlanza river, a tributary of the Duero river. Located at a higher altitude than Ribera del Duero, between 750 and 1,200 metres above sea level, it is one of the coldest Spanish wine producing regions, with severe winters. 

Tierra del Vino de Zamora: This vast region located in the province of Zamora on the banks of the Duero river is considered a westward continuation of the Toro region. The main variety planted here is Tinta de Toro, a clone of Tempranillo. This clone tends to produce wines with more tannins, more colour and less acidity than the ones used either in Ribera del Duero or Rioja. This lack of acidity means that the style of wines is less fresher and with a fuller body. During phylloxera, this region known locally as “Land of the wine” was severely hit and producers aimed for higher yields and boosting production. However, in the 21th century, the arrival of new producers is reshaping a region that currently offers some of the best quality-price wines of Spain.


I’m very lucky to be named after the signature grape of Spain: Tempranillo. Found almost everywhere, it is very versatile, allowing for wines that you can drink now but also may have a great potential for barrel ageing. Its resistance to droughts have lead to its expansion beyond Spain and you can now find Tempranillo in countries like South Africa or Australia, at the other corner of the earth.

I’m a very affectionate cat and likes to follow the winemakers for a walk when they go to the vineyard. I love to climb the big cherry tree and look after them from above. When rabbits come to eat the young vines, I try to chase them but they are too big for me: my friends the Iberian Lynx and the Mountain Cat help me to keep them at bay.

In the picture I’m wearing a traditional party costume: During summer, from Rioja to Ribera del Duero, every weekend at least one town or village have a celebration. The white T-shirts and pants tend to become red quite easily, for the wine stains. The scarf can vary its colour or logo depending of the region or the peña, the name of the clubs founded by a group of friends that enjoy the fiesta together each year. I’m also drinking wine from a porrón: a traditional way to drink wine with friends or wine workers in a COVID safe way without needing glasses. But be careful! Your lips can never touch the porron.

Aragón: Where Grenache is king

Located in the Ebro Valley, between Catalonia and Rioja, this inland region is more influenced by the Mediterranean than its counterparts in Castilla y León. The main Denominations of Origin are located either at the southern approaches of the Pyrenees mountains or at the eastern slopes of the Sistema Iberico, a mountain range which separates the Duero and Ebro valleys. The main wine producing regions are:

 ✾ Somontano: The name of this region means “Under the mountains” in Spanish and it this location, just south of the Pyrenees, what creates a microclimate wetter and cooler than other Spanish regions. It is one of the few places in Spain where Gewurztraminer can ripen succesfully and, although the production consists mainly on red wines, its whites have achieved a considerable recognition among consumers for its fresher and citrus fruit style. The main red grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, usually blended either with Merlot or with Tempranillo.

 ✾ Campo de Borja: Nicknamed “the Grenache Empire”, this region is well known internationally for its old Grenache bush vines. More than 2,000 of the vines have between 30 and 50 years old on 2022, being one of the biggest concentration of old vines from the same variety in a single Denomination of Origin. Rain here is scarce and late frosts are an important threat. The best wines come from vines planted on the slopes of Moncayo mountain, one of the highest mountains of the Iberian peninsula, where a combination of altitude, aspect and old bush vines gives wines with an incredible concentration of primary fruit flavours that express their terroir.

 ✾ Cariñena: Although this region gave its name to the red variety Cariñena (or Carignan in French), the main variety planted is Grenache, followed by Tempranillo. Here, most producers aim for high-volume inexpensive wines that lack the concentration and complexity of those made in Campo de Borja. Most of the wine production of Aragon comes from this region. Soil is also flatter and more fertile, allowing for higher yields. The best wines come from plots where soils have a higher quantity of pebbles, allowing for better drainage and helping the grapes to ripen thanks to the storage of heat during the day and its release during the cold nights during the growing season.

 ✾ Calatayud: East of Cariñena and closer to the Sistema Iberico, the production of this region is dominated by Grenache, which constitutes 80% of the vines planted. Altitude is higher and vines can be found as high as 800 meters above sea level. This allows a style with a better balance between acidity and alcohol than in Cariñena. Wines made from vines with more than 50 years can use the qualification Calatayud Superior. These wines are rare and its demand is high.


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Madrid: The rising star

Located south of Madrid, this region can be divided in two main subregions, east and west of the capital. The eastern subregion is called Arganda and encompasses all plantings from the city of Madrid to Aranjuez, on the  shores of the river Tagus. The main defining features are its soils rich in minerals such as gypsum, its hillier terrain and the high diurnal range experienced during growing season. 60% of wine production comes from this area alone. On the other side, the subregion of Navalcarnero is located west, closer to the Sistema Central and its soils are less fertile, limiting yields. The most important grape varieties in the entire region are Grenache and Tempranillo.

Extremadura: A region worth discovering

This region located at the border with Portugal is nicknamed the “Natural Paradise of Europe”. A land of forest and biodiversity, sparsely populated and historically isolated from the rest of the country, it has developed its own personality regarding wines. While in the fertile Guadiana Valley in the South a wine industry was able to born, forming one of the biggest Denominations of Origin in Spain and producing high-volume inexpensive wines, Caceres has remain as the last frontier regarding wine, as international premium wine players like Bodegas Habla coexist with family wineries and cooperatives in Cañamero and Sierra de Gata and particulars still elaborate wine for private consumption using amphorae and the same techniques than in neighboring Alentejo.

 ✾ Cáceres: Although there is not a single Denomination of Origin within its borders, wine is deeply rooted in the past and present of this region. The area bordering Salamanca can be considered as a southern extension of the Sierra de Salamanca region. Viticulture never disappeared in the area but it focused mostly on personal consumption and small production garage wines. There have been some attempts to develop commercially viable projects in the Sierra de Gata (Cat’s mountains) taking advantage of the old vines and steep slopes of the area, but they have been unsuccessful until now. All the Alagon basin from the mountains to its confluence with the river Tagus was well known from wine production and, although in some places, like Coria, there are wineries that are still open, in others, like Ceclavin, wine is no longer produced even if in 1912 one wine of this village elaborated by the oenologist Severo Martinez won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona. Amphorae wine, called regionally as vino de pitarra, is produced not only in those areas but also around the town of Montanchez, south of Caceres and the town of Cañamero, to the east.

The winemakings techniques are the ones used in nearby Alentejo in Portugal but, while this country has managed to develop a production that is commercially viable, in Caceres it’s mostly produced by locals in small quantities and sold to neighbors, sometimes even reusing other bottles. Some small wineries managed to put some bottles for sale in local shops and most bars and restaurants in those regions will serve you a glass of pitarra if you ask for it but few outsiders known about its existence and virtually not a single bottle is sold outside Caceres. Quality and style varies greatly among producers and vintages and the grapes used are usually field blends from diverse local varieties growing on small plots. 

 ✾ Ribera del Guadiana: This Denomination of Origin ecompasses both wineries in Caceres and Badajoz, however the majority of them are located in the latter, along the fertile Guadiana river valley. Here, soils are flat and fertile and vines are able to produce high yields of healthy grapes. Climate is hot and dry. Most of the wines produced are red and Tempranillo constitute 50% of the vines planted. Other important varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shyrah and Merlot for reds and Viura and Chardonnay for white wines. Some wineries from Badajoz that belong to this Denomination of Origin are allowed to produce sparkling wine under the Denomination of Origin Cava.