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Can you tell us a little about Spanish wines? Ask The Wine Ladies as heard on

Dear Wine Ladies,

Over the last little while it seems that Spanish wines seem to be popping up at various dinner parties and get-together’s more and more. We really enjoyed one of our most recent white wine discoveries called Viura (we think). Which we were told was a Spanish wine that cost less than $15.00. Neither my boyfriend or I can remember where it came from in Spain. We were wondering if this is the name of an area, a brand name or a town. Any additional info on this wine would be appreciated.


Barrie, Ontario

Dear Barbara,

To be sure it seems that the wines of Spain have been enjoying an increase in popularity over the last little while. The wine you are asking about is actually the name of an historic grape variety. It is the most planted white grape in the legendary red wine region of Rioja in the north-east. It is also widely planted in other areas of the north-east of Spain where it goes by the name Macabeo.  And in Roussillon in southern France where it is known as Macabeu.

Typically Viura can be made as a single varietal wine or blended with other grapes (as in Rioja where regulations now permit international varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to be used up to 49% of the blend). It is a varietal that presents its challenges in the vineyards but more and more producers in the area are getting serious about Viura and willing to take the necessary steps, some quite costly to get the best out of the grape. The plantings in Rioja are quite old, many going back up to 45 years which allows for greater complexity in the final product in the hands of a good viticulturist and winemaker. Well balanced, lively crisp wines with alluring aromas of apple, lemon and sometimes hint of honey can be found, and are delicious to be sure. Perhaps you recently tasted the Beronia 2012 Viura which was available in Ontario for $14.95, a great buy to be sure.

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