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A Visual Guide To Spain’s Chillable, Light-Bodied Reds

If we learned one thing from our guide to Northern Italy’s chillable red wines, it’s that even light-bodied reds can thrive in regions known for the most bold and powerful bottles. While these full-bodied wines reigned supreme in these regions in the ‘90s and early aughts — especially in Spain — lighter-bodied grapes were often looked down upon. But as the demand for chillable reds continues to grow, producers are embracing many forgotten local grapes and bringing them back to the forefront.

Now, you can find unique expressions of native grapes thriving in each corner of the country. So while the concept of Spanish wine might evoke thoughts of brooding Rioja and intense Ribera del Duero, there’s a treasure trove of lesser-known grapes throughout the country that lend themselves to fruity, sessionable wines. These varieties can be bottled as single-varietal wines or used to craft juicy, chillable blends. So while it may take some digging to find a few of these wines online or in your local shop, it’s well worth the effort.

Region: Bierzo


Mencía is one of the more recognizable varieties on this list. That’s largely because many highly regarded producers in the Bierzo and Ribera Sacra regions have embraced this grape as consumers started looking for more chillable options. Widely regarded as Spain’s answer to Beaujolais, Mencía is a medium-bodied red grape bursting with floral and berry flavors. While Mencía totally delivers on the juicy, red fruit flavor profile expected from chilled reds, it can also have delightful herbaceous and earthy notes. Keep an eye out for varietal Mencía as well as blends from Bierzo and surrounding regions for a great introduction to lighter-bodied Spanish wines. Producers to take note of include Nanclares y Prieto and Raul Perez.

Region: Canary Islands

Listán Negro

Listán Negro thrives in the volcanic, ash-based soils of the Canary Islands. The vineyards are planted in strategic pits, which capture moisture and provide cover from the strong winds. This local grape shines here, with bright red cherry and strawberry flavors. The distinct volcanic soils lend a smoky, mineral quality to the wine as well. Check out the delicious examples from Viñátigo, Los Bermejos, and Vinicola Taro if you can find them. And Listán Negro makes for a great rosé to boot!

Listán Prieto

Not to be confused with Listán Negro, the Listán Prieto grape has distinct savory characteristics. This grape is actually genetically identical to the Mission grape, also known as País, which is commonly found in South America. While this variety is thought to originate from the Castilla-La Mancha region, Listan Prieto is now more popular on the Canary Islands than mainland Spain. While you are more likely to encounter a single-varietal bottling of this grape under the País name in Chile, you can enjoy this variety in juicy, herbaceous blends from the Canary Islands.

Region: Castilla-La Mancha

Garnacha Tintorera

No, this isn’t just a longer name for the popular Garnacha grape — it’s actually the Spanish name for Alicante Bouschet. Garnacha Tintorera is one of the few grapes known as “teinturier grapes,” which have both dark skins and dark flesh on the inside of the grape. This characteristic can help craft big, bold wines, so Garnacha Tintorera (or Alicante Bouschet) is often associated with full-bodied reds. However, there are some examples vinified as juicy, fruit-forward wines that take well to a little chill. The Albahra wine from Envinate is a great example: Made with 70 percent Garnacha Tintorera and 30 percent Moravia Agria, it carries enticing notes of cherry, raspberry, leather, and earth. This grape can also be found in the fruity and floral blends from winemaker Laura Lorenzo of Daterra Viticultores.

Region: Sierra de Gredos


While Garnacha is widespread throughout Spain — as well as in southern France where it is known as Grenache — the grape takes on a lighter profile in Sierra de Gredos, a mountainous region right outside of Madrid. Garnacha from other regions of Spain like Priorat can have a jammy and robust profile, but the high altitude of the Sierra de Gredos allows the grape to take on a more elegant expression. 4 Monos Viticultores and Comando G are producers crafting incredible wines from these rustic mountainsides that are worth seeking out.

Region: Mallorca


The rare Gorgollassa grape is native to Mallorca, a stunning island off the coast of Spain. While the grape is well known on the island, Mallorca only produces small quantities of wine and over 80 percent of those wines are consumed locally, so you’ll be hard pressed to find this variety stateside. However, there are some more accessible gems including an example from Litrona, a line of Spanish wines meant to celebrate the liter bottle format from Selections de la Viña. Their extremely quaffable liter bottle of Gorgollassa offers tart berry and pomegranate flavors alongside blazing acidity. There are also great blends of Gorgollassa with other local grapes from producers like Sincronia. If you can’t find a bottle near you, that’s all the more reason to visit Mallorca to experience the wines in person.

Region: País Vasco

Hondarrabi Beltza

Spain’s Basque country is known for its spritzy Txakolina wines that pair wonderfully with the local seafood and beachy vibes. Most of these wines are produced as whites or rosé, though there are some reds made from the Hondarrabi Beltza grape. Widely believed to be a descendant of Cabernet Franc, Hondarrabi Beltza has similar notes of juicy red fruits, blackberries, and some hints of jalapeños and herbs. Next time you want to feel like you’re beachside in Basque Country with a chilled glass of red, reach for the Ameztoi “Stimatum” red Txakolina.

Region: Penedès


Sumoll is a rare grape native to Catalonia. The variety used to be prominent in the region, but its fickle nature led producers to replace it with less temperamental grapes. As a reaction to Cava’s increasing scale and use of international grapes like Chardonnay, there is currently a movement in Penedès to revive local grapes like Sumoll. The grape can now be commonly found in blends or rosé wines, but there are some single-varietal examples from Heretat Montrubi and an amphora- aged expression from Costador. These wines are described as Pinot Noir-like, with bright red fruit flavors and an elegant structure.


Similar to Sumoll, Trepat is entering a bit of a renaissance in Penedès and its surrounding regions. It is used in Cava’s rosé blends, but was generally looked down upon as a single-varietal wine due to its lighter body. The large, thin-skinned grape produces wines similar to Poulsard or Schiava, with a high-toned and aromatic profile. Trepat is native to Catalonia’s Conca de Barberà region, and the winemakers at Succés Vinícola are working to showcase the potential of this grape in several quaffable, chillable bottlings.


*Image sourced from Page Light Studios – stock.adobe.com

The article A Visual Guide To Spain’s Chillable, Light-Bodied Reds appeared first on VinePair.

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