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Spain The Undiscovered Country

Spain The Undiscovered Country

February 18, 2018

Why is Spain worthwhile exploring for good wine? Many reasons, but in a nutshell:

  • It offers you a massive range of styles and...
  • They’re cheap and they’re good.

Savvy advice for smart wine buying.

To help in your quest of Spanish wine discovery...(which never really ends), I’ve listed some of the most common, most popular styles of wines from around the world and their Iberian alternatives. With luck, you’ll be familiar with at least one or two of these styles - so why not try them with a Spanish accent?

Sauvignon Blanc/Pinot Grigio

  • Alternative regions: Rias Baixas
  • Alternative grapes: Albarino, Godello, Loureira

These whites tend to be fresh, vibrant and fruity. Light bodied with an apple-y, citrusy zing that makes you reaching for another glass./bottle. Lovely.

They tend to come from cooler regions and the same is (generally) true for Spain. It rains a lot in the Atlantic North-West of the country, and when you coupled this with mild temperatures, the wines share more than you might expect with the ubiquitous Kiwi Sauv.

Look out for the increasingly popular Rias Baixas region (pronounced Ri-ash Bi-sh-is) and its premier grape Albariño. If you’re feel more adventurous, look out for the lesser known Godello or Loureira varieties.

All are excellent with seafood and great crowd pleasers...whilst being interesting at the same time.

Full bodied Reds - Napa Cabs, Australian Shiraz, Merlot etc

  • Alternative regions: Ribera del Duero, Priorat
  • Alternative grapes: Alternative grapes

You can’t go wrong with a big red...but to make the best you need sunshine and lots of heat. Fortunately, Spain is famed for both.

The pinnacle of this style is undoubtedly Ribera del Duero. Big, powerful, deep, fruit driven wines which really stand out on any dinner table. It’s a relatively new Spanish region, but has risen to the top in terms of quality and price. Real showstoppers.

Priorat is another great example. Near Barcelona, its unique soil, ancient vines and steep slopes give rich, dense wines with a distinct spice and earthiness to them.

The Monastrell grape is worth a punt as well. But be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted and you better be prepared for it grip, boisterous body and untameable texture.

Mature Reds e.g. Clarets/Barolo

  • Alternative regions: Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva
  • Alternative grapes: Mature Tempranillo

In the late 1800’s Europes vineyards were virtually destroyed. Not by war, but by a tiny American louse that killed every vine it touched. It didn’t happen over night though, and when Bordeaux (the great capital of the wine world) fell victim its more intrepid inhabitants simply up rooted and moved to what is now Rioja. Fast forward 150 years and their techniques and savoir faire have evolved into what is now Spains most popular wine.

The best thing about Reserva or Gran Reserva Rioja is that it comes ready aged. No need to lay it down. Just drink it...at a fraction of the price that the current Bordelais would charge for the same quality.

In short, Spanish wines are great. Try some. They’re tasty. If in doubt, or on a budget look for wines from Catalunya DO. It’s one of the most modern and forward thinking regions in the country.

Happy tasting!

Gregory J. Roberts