Spain makes some of the best wines in the world and some of the best value wines in the world.
The Spanish economy lags behind others in Europe. The nation has more planted vineyards than any other country, making much more wine that its people can ever consume, no matter how hard they may try. This makes the wine industry dependent upon export markets. It has to remain competitive on price and quality.
That’s great news for wine fans. Spain is a great option for those looking for an Old Europe look and feel beyond France, Italy and Germany.
On the hunt for deals, it’s amazing how often Spain turns up. And its wines are worth a try.
It may take some digging to find out what the highly rated, inexpensive Txakoli Primo 2018 Zantutz is all about. Made with a grape I never heard of, hondarrabi zuri, the wine hails from the Basque region, and let’s just say, the Basque do their own thing their own way. The wine reminds me of a style on the other side of the Iberian peninsula, vinho verde, the light, fresh sparkler from Portugal. The screw cap-topped Txakoli shows fresh citrus, a slightly tropical character and a clean finish with reasonable alcohol (just 11%). This is an ideal glass for those wanting to keep their total consumption in check. $10. 1/2
I was excited to try the beautifully packaged Isabella 2017 Bobal Ribera del Jucar, bobal being a runner up among the most-planted grapes in Spain. Bobal is a grape you don’t often see presented alone. Ribera del Jucar is a young region, recognized in 2003. Well, this indigenous grape is simply a medium to create an approximation of the sweet, fruity Apothic Red style of wine, offering little insight into the grape or terroir. The wine shows focus group-approved character of cocoa and cherry with no tannins to challenge the palate. Those who like the Apothic Red style may enjoy this alternative, and the price. $8.
The best-known region of Spain may be Rioja, where the versatile red grape tempranillo rules and is produced into young, drinkable crianza and distinguished, aged reserva and gran reserva.
Made from tempranillo and garnacha, the light-bodied food pairer Viña Amate 2016 Rioja Crianza offers cranberry and spice character with the slightest hint of oak aging and a fresh finish. $9.
Let’s not forget some other special wines from Spain, such as the traditional method sparking wine, Cava, made in the same technique as Champagne but for a fraction of the price. The country also makes white and rosé wines, so don’t be surprised to see a deal there and check it out if the vintage is no more than three years past.
GRADE: Exceptional , Above average , Good , Below average , Poor .