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Extremadura

Extremadura is a large, little-known wine growing region in the southwestern part of Spain, bordering Portugal. Viticulture has started with the Romains which have settled on the banks of the Guadiana River. After them, there was a boom in wine-producing in the 16th and 17th centuries mainly from emigrants from Extremadura who conquered Central and South America as conquistadores. Nowadays the region is known for high-quality wines, after the industrial modernisation, as well as the cork oak trees and the Iberico ham.

The climate varies from mild near the coast, with influences coming in from the Atlantic Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea to more continental experienced in the inland, and the north-eastern areas close to the central plateau. The River Guadiana plays a very important role in moderating the influence of the hot summer temperatures. Extremadura is divided by the mountain ranges of the Sierra de Guadalupe and the Sierra de San Pedro - Extremadura Alta on the north and Extremadura Baja on the south.

The best wines of the region are coming from the Ribera del Guadiana wine-growing area which was granted DO status in 1999, and there are six more areas under the lower designation Vino de la Tierra, areas that are looking to find their best-suited style in terms of vineyards and grape varieties. The most planted grape is Tempranillo, producing an ample, powerful but soft style wine, together with the Garnacha (same as Grenache) in high altitude giving bigger, juicier, glossy styles. Other popular varieties are Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viura, Chardonnay, Parellada, Pedro Ximénez, Verdejo and Graciano.

The region is becoming increasingly popular with the production of sparkling wines and some vineyards are permitted to produce Cava, although the original wine is made some 800 km south-west of the Cava heartland in Catalonia.

Overall, Extremadura is a very interesting wine region, and it is still trying to find its identity and recognition competing with the better-known regions such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

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