If you have read my reviews in recent years you have realized, I am a huge fan of Spanish wines, especially their approachability and overall affordability. Spanish law requires various selections to be aged for designated periods of time in the barrel and bottle before release, with many winemakers extending that time to ensure that, in general, when a wine from Spain is released for purchase the consumer can enjoy it that night and be pleased. The need to let it rest in your cellar for decades isn’t necessary, though, of course, further bottle development is always an option to the consumer.
When prepping your palate for an evening of wine, food, and friends, instead of popping a bubble, or cocktail, consider a sherry. Understanding the process for producing sherry can be confusing, which my earlier post defined, removing some of those barriers to enjoyment. And, though a wine, the flavors aren’t like any other wine you have ever tasted, but don’t let either deter you. When you embrace the beauty and richness of sherry your palate will thank you. From the historic Bodega Lustau, which has been producing sherry for over 125 years, Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos Solera Reserva ($17) is deliciously dry, nutty, and rich, thanks to extended aging under the flor, about 8 years. Dark caramel in color, with flavors of dried orange peel, toasted hazelnut and marzipan, with a lengthy palate that goes on for days.
From Bordeaux and Rhone roots, but completely Spanish character, Bodegas Finca La Capilla celebrates Spain’s signature variety, Tempranillo. From Ribera del Duero, where 31 distinct soils types can be found throughout the region, La Capilla Crianza ($30) Tinta del Pais (the local version of Tempranillo) highlights the terroir, delivering a wine with an earthy, dusty note of dried herbs and crushed stone. The palate is filled with layers of black cherry, blackberry, and spice, nicely integrating with vanilla and toasted cedar notes.
The wines of Spain’s Priorat region are considered the finest from the country, featuring classic Rhone varieties grown in the foothills of the Montsant Mountains. They are also the most expensive wines produced in Spain. Surrounding this celebrated region is Montsant, also known for their smoky, peppery, meaty Rhone Style blends, grown in similar soil types and elevations, but at a fraction of the cost. Bodegas Can Blau ($18) brings together Mazuelo (Carinena), Syrah, and Garnacha for an earthy, mineral intense wine thanks to the limestone, slate, and clay soils of the region producing a full-bodied wine with complex layers of dark berries, lavender, toasted spice, cedar, and black pepper. Pair with beauty with spiced tri-tip, Jamon Iberico or prosciutto with marinated olives and almonds, or spicy Mexican food.
Spicy and bold, from the native home of Garnacha (also known as Grenache in France, but originating in Spain) within the Calatayud region where old vines date back over 100 years. Nicely integrated and luscious, showcasing an elegant style with incredible approachability (especially for the price,) San Gregorio Single Vineyard Loma Gorda Old Vine Garnacha (SRP $15) opens with layers of dried black cherry and blueberry meld with dried lemon peel, toasted spice, and a hint of smoke on both the nose and palate. Firm, but balanced tannin, a lovely wine on its own but also beautiful paired with roasted pork sausage, chicken and seafood paella, chicken enchiladas, or Spanish Iberico or Manchego cheese.
It is said that when the Romans were invading Numanthia in the Toro region of Spain, the Celtiberian people burned their city rather than letting it be taken by the Romans. From this historic area, some of Spain’s most powerful wines are created from Tinta de Toro, the local clone of Tempranillo. With rocky, sandy soils dominating the arid landscape, pre-phylloxera vines thrive, with some of Numanthia’s vineyards aged over 120 years. Toro vineyards were able to survive phylloxera, the devastating louse that wiped out much of Europe’s vineyards through the mid to late 1800s, thanks to the sandy soils of the area. Low-yielding, old vines produce highly concentrated, structured wines with intensity and power. Termes ($25) is the most youthful of Bodega Numanthia’s wines, produced from younger vines (averaging in age from 30-50 years) creating a wine with black cherry, blackberry, dried tobacco, and woody herbs like thyme and sagebrush. A beautiful combination of complexity with balanced tannin, freshness, and a smooth, subtle finish with notes of toasted hazelnut and cocoa.