March 4, 2024

Spain has so much more to offer than Rioja Reserva and Albariño

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Four great Spanish wines: one from Madrid, one from Galicia and two from Valencia

Sales of Spanish wine in Ireland have been booming for the past five years. However, I suspect that much of the increase is made up of two wines, Rioja Reserva and our new favourite white wine, Albariño from Rías Baixas in Galicia. I have no problem with either of these wines (although I sometimes tire of all that oak in Rioja) but Spain, and even these two regions, has so much more to offer the wine lover without taxing the piggybank or tastebuds. 

As well as Albariño, Galicia produces a number of other very attractive wines. Godello I believe has the potential to be one of Spain’s greatest white grape varieties. Typically rich in textured fruit with a cleansing freshness from that cooler climate, it can be drunk young or aged a few years. Like Albariño, it is a great match for seafood, and shellfish in particular. You may also come across Treixadura and the red Mencía variety, both of which make excellent wines.

While we are huge fans of Rioja Reserva, the region has been evolving over the past decade with many younger growers eschewing lengthy ageing in oak barrels. The result is an array of fascinating, high-quality wines, some at very reasonable prices.

Telmo Rodriguez of Remelluri, one of the finest winemakers in Spain, is working on site specific wines with his sister Amaia in Rioja Alavesa. Names such as Olivier Rivière, La Bicicletta, Viña Ilusión, and Artuke are worth seeking out if you want to learn about the new Rioja. I also recently tasted the excellent Olivier Rivière Gabaxo Rioja 2018 (€26, independents).

Elsewhere, look out for wines from the vineyards around Madrid. Here the Garnacha (or Grenache) produces refreshing fragrant wines with a surprising elegance. I include one here, produced by Irish importer Tindal. 

Looking back over the past year or so, I see I have featured countless sparkling, white and red wines from Spain. This is simply because there are so many brilliant wines being produced all over the country. We are fortunate in this country to have a few intrepid companies sourcing some of the most exciting wines of all.

Spanish Food and Wine Week starts on Monday, providing the perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge of gourmet Spain. See foodwinesfrompain.com for details of many events.

This week, four great Spanish wines that don’t come from Rioja or Rías Baixas. I include one from Madrid, one from Galicia and two from Valencia, a region that offers the wine drinker amazing value for money. 

La Comarcal  Delmoro 2020, Valencia
13.5%, €18
Delectable fleshy white peaches with a refreshing grippy note on the finish. A wine with real character and style. Try it with prawns with pasta or a seafood risotto. 
From: La Touche, Greystones, latouchewines4u.ie; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Pinto Wines, D9, pintowines.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, D3, martinsofflicence.ie; The Fumbally, D8; the fumbally.ie; Brindle Coffee & Wine, D8, brindlecoffeewine.com.

Gargalo Godello 2019, Monterrei
13%, €19.95 
A rich, opulent style of Godello with ripe tropical fruits countered nicely by a seam of refreshing acidity. Drink it with scallops or a creamy fish pie.
From: O’Briens, Obrienswine.ie     

Oludeo Sueños Olivados 2017, Sierra de Gredos, Vinos de Madrid 14.5%, €18.99
An elegant, toothsome floral Garnacha with smooth refreshing dark cherry fruits and light tannins on the finish. Good with grilled lamb cutlets with thyme or stewed peppers. 
From: Drinkstore, D7, drinkstore.ie; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, jusdevine.ie; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock, blackrockcellar.com; Avoca, Ballsbridge, Avoca.com; MacGuinness Wines, Dundalk, dundalkwines.com; Morton’s, D6, mortons.ie.

Sensal 2020, Javi Revert, Valencia
13.5%, €30
Juicy and refreshing with just-ripe spicy plum fruits and a savoury edge. No real tannins; a very moreish, interesting wine. This would work with all sorts of white meats and lighter red meats as well as lighter vegetable dishes. Maybe sweet potato fries with a herby tahini sauce. 
From: Pinto Wines, D9, pintowines.ie; 64wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Baggot Street Wines, D4, baggotstreetwines.com; Green Man Wines, D6, greenmanwines.ie; Redmonds, D6; Redmonds.ie; Baste BBQ, D8, bastebbq.com. 

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