Spanish wines to look out for this week

This column is a massive fan of the wines of Spain. In my opinion, Spain currently offers the best value (price versus quality) of any wine-producing nation.

This week, however, I want to talk about a group of producers that are not obviously cheap (few of their wines cost under €15), although they can still offer excellent value in their price range.

Spain’s highest appellation, Vinos de Pago, was introduced in 2003 and is only given to single-estate vineyards, rather than to whole regions. Hence, many of the Pagos are in places such as La Mancha and Valencia, and lesser known parts of Spain.

The Grandes Pagos de Espana (GPE) group was created by some of Spain’s best, most ambitious producers to focus on high-quality single estates, but is not limited to Vinos de Pago and contains producers from other quality regions, such as Priorat (the excellent Mas Doix) and Rioja (Finca Valpiedra).

GPE has 34 members from 15 DO (Denominacion de Origin) across Spain, from Fillaboa, in Galicia, to Valdespino, in Jerez. I visited a number of their members last autumn and was seriously impressed by the quality.

To take one example — Cava producers Gramona, in Penedes, are farming bio-dynamically, but instead of buying their treatments, they created their own farm and even rescued a dying breed of Catalan cattle, purely to use for fertiliser. Gramona is not here yet, but I liked their wines so much I have been trying to help them find a suitable importer.

Another hugely impressive winery is Pago Mustiguillo, near Valencia, where Toni Sarrión spent years perfecting his wines, which are made from 100-year-old vines. Nobody had paid much attention to him until he started winning awards — Bobal for red, and Mersseguera for whites.

Sadly, only a few GPE wines are available here, at the moment, but I suspect more will be taken on soon.

Below are a few that I was able to find and my apologies for cheating a little with the pricing levels.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Atlantik Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain — €15.33

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockist: Wines Direct at Arnotts and nationwide via winesdirect.ie

Atlantik is from Galicia near the border with Portugal and made with the region''s classic grape Albarino. This is entry level Albarino (sadly this grape is never cheap) but still has ripe aromas of white flowers and peaches with a salty apple influenced tang on the palate.

Valdespino Fino Innocente, Jerez, Spain — €12.99 (35cl)

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, Bradleys, Mannings Ballylickey, World Wide Wines, The Corkscrew, Terroirs

Valdespino trace their estate’s history to the 13th Century and their Pago Macharnudo vineyard provides the grapes for this and their excellent Amantillado (aged Fino). Beautifully bright and fresh Fino aromas of almonds and salt, weighty on the palate, packed with yeasty complexity.

Valdespino Pedro Ximénez, Jerez, Spain — €15.99 (35cl)

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockists: 1601 Kinsale, Bradleys, Mannings Ballylickey, World Wide Wines, The Corkscrew, Terroirs

Not quite under €15 but well worth an extra euro. Made from sun dried Pedro Ximénez grapes with aromas of espresso and dark chocolate with dried fruits and flavours of figs and raisins. Despite the sweetness this also has some acidity .

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Los Aguilares Pago El Espino, 2010, Andalusia, Spain — €23.95

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockists: 

Celtic Whiskey Shop/Wines on the Green, www.celticwhiskeyshop.com; Black Pig, Donnybrook; Vintry, Rathgar

A blend of Petit Verdot, Merlot and Tempranillo, organically grown at 800m in the remote Serranía de Ronda, not far from Malaga. Aged in French oak, this Bordeaux/Spanish blend has a distinct, bitter chocolate aroma, ripe-rich spicy fruit and a bitter cherry twist on the finish.

Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain — €33.95

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockists: 

Black Pig, Donnybrook; www.jnwine.com, James Nicholson’s, Crossgar, Co Down

The Martinez Bujanda family own five estates in Spain, including this modern Rioja house, which uses French oak (as opposed to US) with wines made in a full-on, fruity style. Ripe, sweet liquorice and black-fruit aromas, dense and layered red-and-black fruit flavours and chocolate touches.

Finca Terrerazo Vino de Pago 2011, Utiel Requena, Spain — €34.99

Spanish wines to look out for this week

Stockists: 

Deveney’s, Dundrum; Baggot Street Wines

Mustiguillo is 100% Bobal, the newly fashionable local grape in this part of Spain to the east of Valencia. This was Decanter’s ‘best in show’ at last year’s wine awards and is only recently arrived here. Deep purple in colour, heady aromas of violets and red-and-black fruits with layered, luscious complexity.


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