Beyond Rioja: There’s so much more to Spanish wine
Spain makes so many brilliant, fascinating red, white and sparkling wines at good prices
Three under €20, as well as one for your next moment of pure indulgence
For the past four years the Spanish Commercial Office in Dublin has run a highly successful Spanish wine week in May – a series of tastings, dinners and other events around the country. For obvious reasons this year’s wine week will happen later in the year, and will be very different too. However, there are plenty of happenings, online and off, on October 12th-18th. See foodswinesfromspain.com for full details and to sign up.
Sales of Spanish wines have increased significantly in Ireland over the past few years, and now represent 14 per cent of the market, in second place after Chile. I suspect that much of this is made up of Rioja Reserva, one of our favourite red wines. There is, of course, so much more to Spanish wine than Rioja. The country makes so many brilliant, fascinating red, white and sparkling wines. So why not use Spanish Wine week as a way of discovering a whole new side to Spain?
Earlier this year, I listed four great Spanish wines under €20. I could have mentioned another dozen. Here are another three under €20, as well as one for your next moment of pure indulgence. They come from four very different regions and almost all are made from indigenous Spanish grape varieties, too.
I have mentioned the wines of Gredos before. The wines come primarily from Garnacha vines, grown high up on granite slopes. The pioneers in this region were Telmo Rodriguez, followed by Commando G. The wines are pale in colour, exquisitely perfumed with delicate Pinot Noir-like fruits. The El Berrakin here was new to me and is very reasonably priced.
Bodegas El Angosto is in Valencia, a region better known to the Irish for sun holidays, paella and oranges than for wine. Wine production was generally more about volume than quality there until recently. Now cooler vineyards, generally found at higher altitudes, are producing some fascinating individual wines. The La Tribuna below is a take on GSM; Garnacha, Syrah and Monastrell. Only the Syrah is foreign.
I have featured the wines of Ribeira Sacra many times over the past few years. The region has improved beyond all recognition. I had dismissed the wines until I came across a bottle of Dominio do Bibei a decade or so ago. I bought a case straight away. It wasn’t cheap then, and isn’t cheap now, but it is still one of my favourite Spanish wines.
Lastly, if you are on a tight budget, Aldi has the Toro Loco Superior, a blend of Bobal and Tempranillo for an amazing €6.58 a bottle. Even if you cannot join any of the events, next week would be a great time to take another look at what Spain has to offer.
La Tribuna 2018, Valencia, Bodegas El Angosto
A medium-bodied wine that combines plump fleshy red fruits with a fresh streak of acidity and an earthy touch. Fantastic value for money. Drink it with chicken dishes or pasta with tomato-based sauces.
From Eleven Deli, Greystones, elevendeli.ie; Sweeneys Dublin 3, sweeneysd3.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; TheNudeWineCo.ie; Fallon & Byrne, Dublin 2, fallonandbyrne.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Listons, Dublin 2, listonsfoodstore.ie; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow, wicklowwineco.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com.
MontRubí White 2019, Penedès
A light elegant crisp white wine suffused with fine green apple fruits, fresh herbs and pears. Try it on its own or with light seafood starters. Cured salmon or oysters.
From Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown, whelehanswines.ie
El Berrakin 2018, Daniel Ramos, Vino de Gredos
Minimal intervention. Perfumed, with juicy, earthy, fresh red fruits and lightly grippy tannins on the finish. Perfect served cool with charcuterie or grilled pork.
From Siyps.com; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin 2, Kells, Co Meath, Galway, sheridanscheesemongers.com; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth; elywinebar.ie; Franks, Dublin 2.
Dominio do Bibei, Lalama Red Ribeira Sacra 2016
Ethereal fragrant summer pudding fruits on nose and palate with a savoury edge; an elegant yet intense light wine. Try it with roast duck or pork.
From 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.com; The Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, elywinebar.ie; wineonline.ie.