Spain has a long history of winemaking, with evidence of vines having first been cultivated in Spain between 3000 and 4000 BC. Initially modern production methods were slow to reach Spain, however after they joined the European Union in 1986, previously economically deprived areas such as Galicia and La Mancha benefited from the growth of an urban middle class, which resulted in a new interest in high-quality wine. The “quality revolution” began in earnest in the 1990s with international varieties becoming more commonplace and winemakers embracing a much more fruit-forward style of wine.
Of course, Spain is also internationally renowned for its flavoursome, traditional cuisine, which tastes even better when paired with a glass of wine. With this in mind, each wine has been paired with a tapas dish in an attempt to create a true Spanish experience.
RECOMMENDED SPANISH WINES
Finca Villacreces `Pruno` Ribera del Duero 2019 Situated on the 'Golden Mile', 15km west of the city of Peñafiel, the vineyards of this family-owned winery are located next door to Vega Sicilia. Vines were originally planted in the 14th century and the estate was bought by the Antón family (of Bodegas Izadi) in 2004. Once described by Robert Parker as the 'hidden jewel of Ribera del Duero', these vineyards are farmed using 'integrated viticulture', where canopy management and the use of natural treatments are favoured, and chemical products avoided. This wine is produced in a modern, fruit-forward style, with each plot picked separately to ensure optimal ripeness. Ideal with grilled chorizo and paella.
Vetus `Flor de Vetus` Rueda Verdejo 2020 Located to the east of Toro, this 80-year-old vineyard lies at 820 metres above sea level in the cool area of Segovia. The Vetus wines are designed to showcase the essence of the Toro region and, utilising the experience of the Antón family, maximise its potential. The careful vineyard management and sustainable agriculture is reflected in the quality of the wine, which has a true sense of place. Fine-lees ageing after fermentation adds a delicious complexity and structure, with well-defined flavours of citrus and peach, and a crisp acidity. Pairs perfectly with brochetas de gambas, mejillones al vapor and soldaditos de pavia (garlic shrimp skewers, steamed mussels and battered cod with raosted peppers).
Izadi Rioja Reserva 2017 Izadi' translates to 'nature' in the Basque language, reflecting wines that are true to their origins and a natural expression of the area. Family-owned and operated, this winery was founded in 1987, based on a passion for food and wine. The vines, located in Villabuena, Rioja Alavesa (the highest part of the region), have an average age of 45 years, and are planted on distinctive, white, calcareous soil. These factors, as well as the use of integrated viticulture (sustainable methods and minimal chemicals) result in highly concentrated wines which pair perfectly with grilled chorizo.
Orben Rioja 2019 Ownership of Orben is split between the Antón family and 50 of Spain's top restauranteurs, who share a passion for fine food and wine. The 29 hectares lie at the foot of the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range in Laguardia, divided into 74 parcels of bush vines. A combination of poor soil, dry summers and cold nights produces grapes with a very distinctive, modern style: intense colour, fine and elegant tannins and a perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. Susitainable and organic viticulture is practised, ensuring the land is protected for future generations. Pair with Catalan lamb skewers or a smoky lamb and pepper stew.
Bodegas Gallegas `Silandeiro` Sobre Lías Rías Baixas Albariño 2020 Translated as 'silence', which refers to the wine's subtle aromatics and depth, this wine is made from 30-year-old vines, exclusively from the Salnés Valley in Galicia. Made from 100% Albariño, it displays a delicious Atlantic freshness, thanks to the proximity to the ocean, only 5km away. The vines of this family-owned winery are sustainably managed. With aromas of lemon, white peach and honeysuckle, this wine pairs perfectly with calamari, grilled scallops or pulpo a la gallega (octopus).
Bodegas LAN `D12` Rioja Crianza 2018 The ‘D-12’ Crianza is a nod to the cheeky Rioja tradition of winemakers squirreling away the best wines from each vintage to keep for themselves. In Bodegas LAN’s case, this was always the wine in the ‘D-12’ tank. Each vintage, the most promising Tempranillo parcels are singled out and destined for ‘D-12’. The grapes for the 2018 release were sourced from two vineyards: one in Lanciego in Rioja Alavesa with vines over 30 years old, the other in El Cortijo, near the Viña Lanciano estate in Rioja Alta, with 42-year-old vines. Aged in a combination of American and French new-oak barrels, the ‘D-12’ boasts intense aromas of ripe red fruits coupled with spicy, chocolatey hints – it is a marvellous accompaniment to roasted chorizo.
Familia Castaño Organic Monastrell 2020 Familia Castaño are best known for their efforts to promote the native Spanish grape, Monastrell. A family-run business based in Yecla, in the north of Murcia, Bodegas Castaño embodies the best of southern Spain and aims to become a 100% organic wine producer by 2023. Offering great value for money, the Organic Monastrell is drinking perfectly now and displays aromas of ripe, black cherry and supple, velvety tannins. Pair with espetos de sardinas or Manchego with membrillo.
Cuevas de Arom `As Ladieras` Calatayud Garnacha 2018 This wine is a collaboration between Fernando Mora MW and the co-operative Bodegas San Alejandro, with the aim of creating one of the best Garnachas in the world. The co-operative owns some of the oldest and highest vineyards in the region, allowing the grapes a slow ripening process and producing complex wines. Farmed sustainably and using organic practices, Cuevas (meaning caves) de Arom (Mora, spelt backwards) is hand harvested and 30% whole-bunch fermented in concrete tanks and wooden vats. With just under 20,000 bottles produced, this wine is not to be missed, and was awarded 90 points by Robert Parker. Match with patatas bravas and grilled chorizo.
Dominio do Bibei `Lapola` White Ribeira Sacra 2019 Widely acknowledged as the driving force behind the quality wine movement in Ribeira Sacra, Javier Dominguez has huge belief in the potential of the area, its ancient character and its capacity to produce some of Spain's most distinctive wines. Fermented in concrete tanks and wooden foudres, the wine is then aged for ten months on its fine lees in French and Austrian oak barrels. It is bottled without stabilising or filtering, and is deliciously salty on the palate, with vibrant, deep citrus flavours. Ideal with chickpea & salt cod stew or bacalao fritters.
Duquesa de Valladolid Rueda Verdejo 2021 Duquesa de Valladolid is Bodegas LAN’s project in Rueda, the Spanish region which is currently in vogue for its crisp and aromatic white wines. This unoaked 100% Verdejo, from high-altitude vineyards to the north of the appellation, is bursting with aromas of passionfruit, freshly cut grass, green apple, lemon, lime and pineapple. A vibrant acidity makes this a perfect pairing for fish-based tapas such as boquerones en vinagre, gambas pil pil and croquetas de bacalao.
Gallina de Piel `Manar dos Seixas` Ribeiro 2019 Gallina de Piel' translates as 'goosebumps', with David Seijas (winemaker and former El Bulli sommelier) aiming to exhilarate the palate and make people happier. He creates wines with an emphasis on elegance and freshness, and Manar dos Seixas is no exception. 'Manar' translates as 'liquid from the earth' and 'Seixas' is a nod to David's surname, which means brave pigeon. A blend of Treixadura, Albariño, Godello and Loureiro grown in the Miño River valley, Ribeiro; this wine is unoaked and aged on fine lees for six to eight months. Flavours of lemon, peach and Granny Smith apples pair beautifully with pulpo a la gallega (octopus).
Marqués de Burgos `Crianza` Ribera del Duero 2019 Marqués de Burgos is the Ribera del Duero operation of Bodegas LAN. Established experts in working with Tempranillo in Rioja, they embarked on a search for prime vineyard sites within the Ribera del Duero region, where this mighty grape also thrives. Their search led them to the village of Quintana del Pidio and old bush-vine vineyards producing low yields of intensely flavoured grapes. The ‘Crianza’ is the product of 40-year-old vines planted on south-facing slopes at 850 metres above sea level. Aged in new French oak for 14 months, it boasts intense aromas of bright berry fruit and spice and is the ideal accompaniment to hard cheeses such as Manchego.
Santiago Ruiz `O Rosal` Rías Baixas Albariño/Loureiro/Caíño Blanco/Treixadura/Godello 2021 O Rosal is the most southerly of the Rías Baixas subzones, situated on the north bank of the river Miño, which marks the border with Portugal. O Rosal enjoys more sunlight hours and lower rainfall than other subzones. Loureiro, a variety prized for its aromatic flavour profile, performs particularly well here and wines labelled ‘O Rosal’ must include this grape in the blend. The Santiago Ruiz blend also includes Caiño Blanco, Treixadura and Godello and is brimming bright aromas of apple, apricot and ripe lemon. It is often said that ‘what grows together goes together’ and this vibrant white is the perfect accompaniment to seafood tapas.
Valdespino, Premium Collection Fino `Inocente` Pago de Macharnudo NV In 1264, the knight Alfonso Valdespino was rewarded land by King Alfonso X for defending the city of Jerez from the Arabs. This land formed the basis of the bodega today, which is one of the oldest in Jerez. 'Inocente' is a single-vineyard Sherry, produced from the Macharnudo Alto vineyard, located in the prestigious area of High Jerez. Unusally for a modern-day Sherry, fermentation takes place in oak barrels within a solera system of ten 'criaderas' or tiers (as oposed to the usual three for Fino Sherry), which adds extra complexity to the wine. Delicate and complex aromas with flavours of green apple, sea salt and toasty yeast, pair with salted almonds, Iberian ham or fried sardines.