Although there are various hypotheses about the origin of this variety, one of the most plausible claims that it came from Asia Minor, the homeland of many Mediterranean grapes. However, this vine has been cultivated in Spain since ancient times, and from there it spread to the South of France.
It occupies the seventh position in the list of Spanish vineyards, and is found in almost all the winegrowing regions of Spain. It is mainly cultivated in Cataluña, Aragón, Alto Ebro and the French Midi.
It is the basic grape for Rioja quality whites and Cavas. Its slow oxidation makes it very suitable for ageing in wood. The wine is pale and light, reminiscent of green fruits if it is made from a high output. Recently, an excellent flavour has been produced from Macabeo grown in poor, unproductive soils, which is the exact opposite of the strategy employed in Penedés and La Rioja.
The vine is upright, with a late sprouting and fairly late ripening. Therefore, it resists later frosts well. It is very sensitive to mildew and powdery mildew, and especially Botrytis, which prevents its general cultivation on the plains or on excessively high soils. It grows very well on sunny slopes, because it is extremely resistant to drought. As a result it was grown a lot in Algeria and very popular there.
It produces straw-coloured wines, rich in alcohol, with a high acidity and a fruity, astringent aroma. The balance between alcohol and acidity is good, creating excellent barrel wines.
In Cataluña, together with Xarel.lo and Parellada, it forms the famous Cava grape trilogy. In La Rioja, monovarietal wines are elaborated, and some are aged or fermented in barrels.
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