We’re certain you’re familiar with the 4 Grapes to Know, which details how to match your current wine preferences with top Spanish varietals, including Albariño, Verdejo, Garnacha and Tempranillo. Here are the four unsung grapes of Spanish wine you need to know as you discover all of Spain’s fantastic varietals.
In the 1970s, this native white grape of Galicia was near-extinction, but just last year, the New York Times wrote this article, “Revisiting Godello, a Grape That Spain Has Rescued,” on its rapid and promising return.
Often likened to chardonnay, this Spanish varietal is dry white emphasizes minerality and, upon first sip, accentuates fresh apple and citrus. Bracing, juicy acidity is the unifying feature of these pours, along with bitterness and Atlantic Ocean salinity. These wines are lively partners with food.
Most of the plantings are in Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, Ribiero and Valdeorras.
Another grape that has seen a resurgence in recent times is Mencia. Found primarily in the Bierzo, Monterrei, Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras DOs, Mencia grapes have seen a huge revival resulting in more concentrated grapes, giving way to deeper, higher-quality wines.
Exhibiting earthy, vegetal characters with berry nuances and stony minerality, Mencia are generally light-to-medium-bodied with a lot of food-friendly acidity. Mencia mingles beautifully with salty tapas plates involving fried fish, olives and cured ham.
Bobal, Spain’s third most planted variety, is grown mainly in D.O. Utiel-Requena, near Valencia in southeastern Spain. The name Bobal stems from the Spanish word bovale, or bull, as the bunches of grapes are said to be shaped like a bull’s head.
This hardy, thick-skinned grape has been admired for producing full-bodied wines that are notable for dark fruit flavors like plum, blueberry, prune, fig, and blackberry. Bobal pairs well with rich stews and casseroles, oily fish, and barbequed meats.
Hailing from Spain’s Basque Country, the Hondarrabi Zuri grape is light and citrus-tinged with an herbaceous minerality. The grape is made famous in the Txakoli wines of the three renowned Basque Country Do’s, Arabako Txakolina, Bizkaiko Txakolina and Getariako Txakolina.
The grape takes its name for a town in the region named Hondarribia, and the word “Zuri” means white in Basque. This grape pairs perfectly with seafood, which the coastal region is also well known for.