History that spans over 3,000 years

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MODERN DAY: Wide choice on offer

IN this new weekly series Lorenzo Barbareschi will provide thoughts on various wines, not just from Spain, and not only those enjoyed, but a few better kept perhaps for cooking or Sangria. But as a starter, first he peeps back in time.

SPAIN’S wine heritage dates back to the Phoenicians who planted the first vineyards in 1100 BC when founding the trading post of Cadiz in Andalucia at least 3,000 years ago.

The Romans also traded throughout the empire wines produced along the Mediterranean and cooler Atlantic coasts.

In 711 AD the Islamic Moors arrival put an end to wine production and commerce for nearly 800 years, but once freed in 1492 AD from Islamic rule wine production re-flourished, with exports to colonies in South America as well as to Henry VIII’s court.

In the 20th century the Spanish Civil War and Second World War badly affected exports, but the wine industry then regained momentum, though with the exception of Rioja and Sherry, Spanish wines did not gain global popularity till the later 1900s.

Spain is now the world’s third biggest wine producer, topped only by France and Italy.

An estimated 400 plus grape varieties are planted throughout Spain although 80 per cent of production is derived from just 20 types, the most popular reds being Tempranillo, Garnacha, Monastrell, and Carinena, while Albarino, Palomino, Airen, Macabeo, Verdejo, Pedro and Ximenez are the favoured whites.

Meanwhile for cava production Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo lead the way!

Next week: A popular Spanish white that many readers will have possibly enjoyed this summer.

Happy drinking!

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