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WSET ® Level 3 Wine > Spain > Flashcards

Flashcards in Spain Deck (79)
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What are the 3 sweeping climatic zones of Spain?

Moderate Maritime - north and northwest coasts enjoy Atlantic influence and high rainfall (e.g. Galicia).

Warm Mediterranean - eastern Spain along the Mediterranean coast going south experiences sea influence and altitude variation.

Hot Continental - the center of Spain (Meseta Central) does not have any ocean or sea influence; rainfall is low and summertime heat is high.


What are the main climate challenges that affect viticulture in Spain? 

What effects do these challenges have on the vine?

Climate challenges: Hot weather and drought


  • Water stress
  • Slower ripening
  • Grapes can shrivel before reaching full and phenolic maturity


What is a viticultural benefit of the lack of rainfall in Spain?

Fungal disease pressure is low. 


What is the traditional training system of Spain?

What is the newer one that is being used?

How does this newer pruning system affect vineyards?

  • Traditional: Bush trained - low density planting, usually dry farmed;
  • Newer: Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) - higher density planting, irrigation possible. 

With VSP winemakers can produce greater yields and use machine harvesting.


What is the hierarchy of wine quality in Spain?

From highest to lowest:

PDO level

  1. Vinos de Pago
  2. DOCa/DOQ
  3. DO

PGI level

  1. Vino de la Tierra


What is Vinos de Pagos?

Vinos de Pagos is a category reserved for prestigious single estates whose work exceeds basic DO requirements.  These estates can only use their own grapes which must be grown, vinified and aged on their estate.

Estates which have earned the Vinos de Pago classification lie within established DOs -- notably, though, they do not exist within Rioja or Ribera del Duero -- and they aren't necessarily superior to DOCa. 


What is the most planted red grape in Spain?



What is the most planted white grape in Spain (it's also the most planted grape in Spain, period)?


Airén is generally a low-quality white grape used for bulk wine and is mostly grown in La Mancha DO.


What international grape varieties grow successfully in Spain?

  • Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • Merlot
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay

These varieties were mostly planted in the 1980s and 1990s to suit the international market.


Traditionally, what type of oak used in Spain?

American oak

There are several wineries experimenting with French oak today.

The size of the barrel has an important role: usually small new oak barrels are used for shorter aging, where large neutral barrels are used for long, slow maturation.

True or False:

All Spanish white wines are only fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks.


Oak fermentation and maturation is common practice in Spain (for both whites and reds), a tradition going back centuries, but most of Spain's whites are fresh + fruity.  

Many winemakers also stir the lees on their white wines to add texture and depth of flavor.


Which white grape varieties are known to make high quality, dry wines in Spain?

  • Viura in Rioja DOCa
  • Verdejo in Rueda DO
  • Albariño in Galicia


What are the 6 geographical regions of Spain?

  1. Upper Ebro (Rioja, Navarra)
  2. Catalunya (Penedès, Priorat)
  3. Duero Valley (Ribera del Duero, Toro, Rueda)
  4. North West (Rías Baixas, Bierzo)
  5. The Levante (Valencia, Jumilla, Yecla)
  6. Castilla-La Mancha (La Mancha, Valdepeñas)


Where is Galicia in Spain?

Galicia is in the northwest corner of Spain, just north of Portugal, on the Atlantic Ocean.



What is the most important DO in Galicia?

What style of wine is this DO best known for?

Rías Baixas is the most important DO of Galicia.

It is best known for producing still, dry, unoaked white wines based on Albariño.



Is Albariño resistant to fungal disease?

Yes, Albariño is resistant to fungal disease, thanks to its thick skin. 


How is Albariño typically trained in Rías Baixas?

Albariño is trained using the pergola system in Rías Baixas.

Having the grapes situated high off the ground allows for breezes to lower humidity and the threat of rot and mildew.

Some VSP-wired trellised vineyards are also seen, which are easier to maintain.


What white grape variety is planted in Rías Baixas that's also planted in Vinho Verde?

Albariño, known as Alvarinho in Portugal.


Albariño from Rías Baixas - is it usually aged in oak or stainless steel?

Albariño is usually aged in stainless steel because oxidative aging environments, like oak, reduce aromatic characters.

However, examples of Albariño aged in oak do exist.




What are the two DOCas of Spain?

  1. Rioja DOCa
  2. Priorat DOCa


Name all 3 subzones of Rioja DOCa.

  1. Rioja Alta
  2. Rioja Alavesa
  3. Rioja Oriental 
    • Renamed in 2018, previously called Rioja Baja


What are the climate influencers of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa?

Elevation and Atlantic Ocean breezes

Cantabrian Mountains protect Rioja from the worst weather coming off the Atlantic.


What is the elevation range for vineyards in Rioja?

500-800 meters asl


Which of Rioja's subregions is on the south bank of the Ebro and is hotter+drier than the other two?

What are some specifics that differentiate this subregion from the others?

Rioja Oriental (Baja) is hotter+drier; it's also east of Logroño (Rioja's most important city).

  • Rioja Oriental receives a strong influence from the Mediterranean Sea, whereas Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean;
  • Garnacha is the main grape, not Tempranillo. 


What is the main white grape of Rioja DOCa?

Viura is the main white grape of Rioja DOCa.

Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Verdejo are other principal grapes used in Rioja DOCa. 


What is the other name for Viura in Spain?

In which region will you find it as this other name?

Macabeo, found in Catalunya.


What is the minimum aging requirement for white and rosado Crianza?

White and rosado Crianza must be aged for a minimum of 18 months, including at least 6 months in oak (the remainder may be in bottle, oak or stainless steel).


What is the minimum aging requirement for white and rosado Reserva?

White and rosado Reserva must be aged for a minimum of 24 months, including at least 6 months in oak (the remainder must be in bottle or oak).


What is the minimum aging requirement for white and rosado Gran Reserva?

White and rosado Gran Reserva must be aged for a minimum of 48 months, including at least 6 months in oak (the remainder must be in bottle or oak).


Tempranillo is the main grape of Rioja DOCa.  

Which grapes are traditionally blended with Tempranillo in Rioja DOCa?

  • Garnacha: adds body + alcohol
  • Graciano: adds black fruits, tannin + acidity
  • Cariñena: adds tannin + acidity

International grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot being blended with Tempranillo are on the rise.