Spain, which areas to take a looksie at?

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by bob parsons, Mar 4, 2017.

  1. I am enjoying the Traditional Rioja thread tasting, some great wines of true tradition. One of the forums over here in the USA is featuring Spain as a monthly Wine Focus so there should be some interesting tasting notes, including Sherry I hope. I think there is quite a good selection from Spain in my area but I tend to stay clear of RP/WS shelf talkers and references and any points reference anywhere drives me nuts, even sometimes on CT..

    So which areas are forumites interested in these days? I know there is a different market over there in Europe and one is able to buy from various supermarket chains. We do not have that so-called luxury over here really!!
    The NW region of Spain I find really interesting, not only for the whites but also some of the reds even though there is a limited selection here in AB.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2017
  2. I'm guessing you read my recent article, Bob?

    For me, Spain is mega exciting.

    White wines are really causing a lot of surprises, and Catalonia is one area where I've enjoyed white wine from over the past 18 months. Also some very good whites from Rioja. Love the Abel Mendoza whites at Viñateros.

    Galician and nearby reds from northwest.

    Island wines...Tenerife...

    Gredos, Alpujarras, New Grenache from lots of places (with freshness and scent).

    ...and more...
    Jonathan Hesford likes this.
  3. No, I just saw it David! Great stuff there as always and I also love the Swiss connection too. Lovely.
  4. You're incredibly spoilt for choice! My suggestion would be to focus on grape varieties and how they're currently being expressed in different parts of the country, for example:

    Tempranillo - No doubt you're familiar with the styles of Toro, Ribera del Duero and Rioja but there are a few new, exciting projects being produced in neighbouring Arlanza as well by Telmo Rodriguez and Oliver Riviere, none of which break the bank. A top quality winery from the area is Traslanzas which is definitely worth a try if you can get hold of it.

    Garnacha - I still believe the best Garnacha in the country is made in Catalunya and old-vine expressions from Montsant are amongst my all time favourites. Sierra Grados is producing some really interesting stuff at the moment although I'm finding a lot of them to be lean for the sake of being fashionable at times. Rioja and Navarra are tried and tested sources of aromatic, soft Garnacha and don't discount Calatayud - Norrel Robertson MWs wines are worth trying if you haven't had the chance yet. He makes them under the label "Escoces Volante" - "The Flying Scotsman"

    Mencia - Go nuts in North-West Spain with this. Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras. It makes wonderful rose wine too, with a lovely peppery characteristic. Descendientes de J.Palacios for high quality oaked examples and almost anything in Ribeira Sacra for lighter, more floral and peppery expressions.

    For white wines Valdeorras (Godello), Rioja (Viura, Malvasia, Tempranillo Blanco) and Rias Baixas (5 sub-regions within the appellation worth exploring!) are the most exciting source of Spanish white wine. Whilst we have some interesting projects in Catalunya, it's very hit or miss. The aforementioned white Rioja from Abel Mendoza is delicious, as are Finca Allende Blanco from Allende and Placet from Palacios Remondo.

    I've got to run but I'll try to write some more specific recommendations later on the off-chance some are available in Canada!
  5. Fintan suggests Telmo Rodriguez and Norrel Robertson. Both of them might just about be available in Canada. Norrel was at Viñateros. I didn't mention him largely because I wanted to concentrate on the local guys, but had I wanted to go on longer in that piece, he'd have been there. No doubt about quality of what he's doing.

    Pretty much most things Telmo does is worth a punt.

    There's a red grape I like in Catalonia, which again, you will have red about - Sumoll. It's not a noble variety but the wines it makes, reds with acidity and crunchy fruit, are really interesting. It's becoming better known and you can find a few in the UK if you trawl the specialists.

    What I am sure you can find in Canada are good Albariño and Godello. There are some brilliant but expensive ones, but go back and reread and you may pick up on a great value wine by a famous name which I've promised not to shout about...
  6. Yes, rather infuriatingly he seems to make (or at least guide) a large number of very varied wines, seemingly never making a bad one, yet also not with an apparent (consultant winemaker style) magic formula. I don't know if he ever makes great wines, now that would be utterly galling if he made that look simple as well!

    Mencia from Bierzo is something I'm keen to explore a little more, having had decent initial success.

    What did shock me, is how good Spain is at making vibrant white wines, but that preconception was a lazy one based on the overall climate... and it's big country with hills and mountains.
  7. Wines by Castell d'Encus from Costers del Segre. Their Riesling 'Ekam' is close to outstanding.
  8. I agree with David. Spain is very interesting but the regions to tackle first are Catalunya and Galicia. After that I would suggest Castilla-Leon and for something different, Andalucia. I disagree with Fintan (for once) that grape varieties is a good starting point. My problem is that many regions of Spain have tried to plant popular varieties from other regions and the wines end up either being out of balance or a blend that tastes like grape soup. Better to concentrate on the traditions of each region.
  9. I'm trying to think of the cross-over of indigenous grapes to regions where it hasn't worked and I'm drawing a blank. If you stick to indigenous varieties in Spain; Tempranillo, Bobal, Mencia, Garnacha and so on, you'll find yourself coinciding with tradition anyway, whereas going by region is where you're more likely to slip into the more modern style of wine making and blending. Pretty much all of our failed wine-making ventures have involved the use of French varieties to some extent.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  10. The third most mountainous country in Europe, it so happens, after Switzerland and Albania!

    Bierzo tends to focus on a more extracted, often oakier style of Mencia that isn't in vogue at the moment. However, it can be absolutely delicious. Have you tried Petalos before from Descendientes de J.Palacios? That for more is the benchmark Bierzo style of Mencia. The Corullon bottling above that is superb but needs some serious time to come around - this year I finished a couple of bottles from the 2000 vintage and they were delicious, whereas the 2005 I tried was probably still a touch young!

    Pittacum are another solid producer in the area as are Dominio de Tares, the latter being probably the oakiest style of Mencia I've tried thus far.
    Bill Marks likes this.
  11. I'll try to give you a list of producers I think are worth trying outside of Priorat, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and so on, Bob. Hopefully some are available locally!


    Reds: Acustic Celler, Coca i Fito, Vinyes Domenech, Alfredo Arribas, Celler Capcanes, Celler Masroig
    Whites: As above

    Reds: Clos Lentiscus (A great one for Sumoll), Jane Ventura, Can Rafols dels Caus, Pares Balta, Celler Pardas,
    Whites: Can Rafols dels Caus (phenomenal international blends - the Chenin blanc is brilliant), Pares Balta, Celler Credo, Enric Soler, Raventos i Blanc, Sabate i Coca

    Costers del Segre:
    Reds: Costers del Sio, Cervolves Celler, Clos Pons, Vall de Baldomar
    Whites: More or less as above plus Castell d'Encus as mentioned earlier by Mark. I'm not convinced by their reds but the whites are delicious if a touch pricey.

    Castilla y Leon - Anything with Telmo Rodriguez's name on it!

    Arlanza and Cigales
    Reds: Olivier Riviere, Traslanzas, Cesar Principe

    Reds: Descendientes de J Palacios, Dominio de Tares, Pittacum, Raul Perez although be careful here, as the bottlings vary drastically in both price and style.


    Ribeira Sacra
    Reds: Dominio do Bibei, Fidellos do Couto, Fento wines, Envinate, Guimaro and again, anything with Raul Perez's name on it is a safer bet here than in Bierzo in terms of consistency of style. Focus more on Mencia than his expensive experiments with Pinot Noir!
    Whites: Algueira, Fidellos do Couto, Dominio do Bibei, Raul Perez

    Reds: Avanthia - their rose wine is stunning as well. If you can find As Aborcas by Telmo Rodriguez and can find a friend to split the cost, I would heartily recommend it.
    Whites: Avanthia, Valdesil, Rafael Palacios (As Sortes may just be the best Godello I've ever tried) La Tapada, A Coroa

    That will do for now I think as otherwise I'll just ramble on and on. I hope some of these are available locally in addition to those I mentioned earlier!
  12. Not yet Fintan, not a huge selection locally but I'm always happy to buy off the internet. This is one we can get locally, I do like (I need to try the cheaper bottling in the same shop), but is probably edging into the bigger style you mention: Martín Códax Bierzo Cuatro Pasos Black, oddly not listed on their website.
  13. Should be at the bottom here: El vino | Cuatro pasos de Martín Codax

    Those wines are very popular here in Spain and I believe it may have been the first wine I tried from Bierzo. I haven't tried it since and I can't remember if I liked it or not. Mencia when oaked isn't entirely dissimilar to Tempranillo, so chances are I did!
    Ian Sutton likes this.
  14. David, I had a Sumoll based cava a couple of weeks ago that was right up your street. Biodynamic, the wine maker uses his own honey instead of sugar for the secondary ferment. That and a mildly oxidative treatment yield a rich, full but bone dry wine, with light fizz, could well be mistaken for a well aged and rather grand champagne. Clos Lentiscus, Sumoll Ferestec 2010.
    David Crossley likes this.
  15. Thanks for all the imput Fintan, way more than I expected. Some names there that are available so will check some out as soon as my birding festival is done. Did find an Encanto Godello last evening whilst ploughing through some Syrahs at a downtown tasting.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  16. Look what Navarra did on that score. Total disaster, where are they now.

    Also, I generally find Ribera del Duero a disappointment. Too much ambition on price, too much oak, nothing remotely like Vega Sicilia either.
  17. For me, my first stop with Mencia would be Raul Perez, but chances of finding in Canada may be remote. Not oaky, though a dozen or so varied bottlings from cheap to stratos!
  18. But
    UK IMPORTER, Charles?
  19. I'm still struggling to define what you and Jonathan are referring to. If you're referring to international grape varieties I very much agree. However, indigenous Spanish varieties have generally found their place now. I'm not sure if I can think of any real cases where they've been grown in the 'wrong' area or blended in an unusual way?

    Ribera del Duero very much went over to the block-buster side around 10-15 years ago. Now, as in many regions, we're seeing the balance swinging back the other way. Some really good producers making more restrained, fresher are generally more interesting wines are:

    Finca Villacreces - Nebro is simply too expensive (a similar style to Vega Sicilia) and their signature wine is considerably nicer than Pruno.
    Dominio del Aguila - The rose/red "clarete" blend in particular is absolutely delicious.
    Carmelo Rodero - The Valterrana bottling, although not cheap, is a wonderful wine
    Telmo Rodriguez - If there's Tempranillo to be found, he'll be there. Gazur, his young Tempranillo, is a steal at 10 euros a bottle.
  20. He's a good reference point, certainly. The entry level El Castrol del Valtuille Joven has been my way of introducing people to Mencia for a while now, and at 6 euros a bottle in Spain it's hard to disappoint!
  21. I think I should mention wines from the south, as no one else has.

    In Valencia/Murcia... Plenty of interesting wines from Monastrell (I especially like Casa Castillo's Las Gravas, proper terroir wine), and Bobal (Ponce). Bernabé Navarro makes a dizzying range of interesting wines (some of them "natural") up in Villena. And Rafael Cambra of course.

    In Andalucía... Exceedingly moreish high-altitude Moscatels in the Axarquía of Málaga. Lots of movement in the Ronda area too, and interesting stuff going on with Petit Verdot and even Blaufrankisch, with a move away from the Parker-oriented styles that were so in ten years ago.

    Fascinating (and unpredictable) "natural" wines from Granada province (north and south) from Barranco Oscuro and a number of others. Barranco Oscuro's 1300 m grown wines are truly unique - one of the few wines I know that postively need a good few days open to drink at their best.

    In the hot sherry lands of Cádiz Luis Pérez is doing wonders (his Garum is a strong contender for maybe the best Spanish wine under €10 I've tried in recent times).

    Envinate have a number of interesting bottlings from Manchuela, Extremadura, and probably other areas (as well as their much-described wines from Tenerife ;))
  22. Lots of good examples above. Will happily second the regions of Gredos and Alpujarras, seriously exciting Grenache dominated wines. David puts it perfectly "freshness and scent" and to that I'd add a purity of fruit that is quite something.

    Also agree with Fintan that we're starting to see fresher and brighter wines from Ribera, the blockbusters are still out there but there much more diversity than five or six years ago, bodegas Milu being a fine example.
  23. Haha. No chance.

    I've found one stockist in Barcelona, Monvinic, and am inclined to buy a case. It'll be a few months before I can pick it up, but I'll let you know.
  24. The new wines from Sierra de Gredos and the bottlings from Daniel Landi and/or Comando G in particular. Their top wines are very scarce (as few as 400 bottles) but entry level wines are easy to obtain and represent excellent value.
    David Crossley likes this.
  25. Seconded, Phil. Top wines are from parcels of 0.5 hectares or less and are genuine "Grand Cru" quality. But as with a good Burgundy producer, the wines lower down the pecking order are really good value, especially at what they like to call (with a nod to Burgundy, but effectively the same thing) "village wines".

    I've met Daniel twice and he's the kind of guy you immediately take to. He reminds me of a young Jura producer, full of enthusiasm and genuinely pleased you like his wines. But he knows exactly what he's doing.

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