Spanish wine sales are up, we are told, thanks to Spain's new flamboyant image. Marks & Spencer recently reported a 200 per cent increase on last year and Spanish sales at Waitrose are 40 per cent up. Various reasons have been suggested, from sangria nostalgia to the tennis heroics of Rafa and the brilliance of Spain's peerless World Cup squad. What better example of Spanish excellence is there, after all? Well, Cruz, Bardem and Almodovar apart, food and wine of course. El Bulli's Ferran Adria and the UK's tapas bar and sherry revolution have done much to shine a new light on the huge strides made in vino español.
Last week, the spotlight was on Spain's lesser-known red wine-producing regions, so this week it's the turn of Spain's whites. Galicia, on the Atlantic coast, is home to an impressive number of mouthwateringly crisp dry whites. Spain's misty Atlantic coast is home to a rich seam of delicious shellfish, and the Rias Baixas region obliges with a complementary cornucopia of vivid, zesty fresh whites made from the albariño grape.
The 2010 Fillaboa Albariño, from Bodegas Fillaboa, Rías Baixas, £15.99, Amps Fine Wine (01832 273502), is a good example, spritz-fresh with juicy apple and peach ripeness and the tangiest of dry aftertastes. If that has your mouth watering, the 2010 Pazo Señorans Albariño, £17.99, buy 2 = £13.99, Majestic, has the most intensely peachy fruit supported by a refreshingly mineral streak of acidity. Both are pure albariño, but move inland a little and you'll find the region of Ribeiro, and appetising floral whites made from Treixadura and Torrontes, such as the fresh and spicy, stonefruit-laden 2010 Viña do Campo, Bodegas Do Campo, £10.95, or £9.95 case/bottle, Lea & Sandeman shops (020-7244 0522).
Neighbouring Ribeira Sacra returns you to albariño again, where it blends with the godello grape to create the powerfully full-flavoured and zesty 2010 Albariño Abadía da Cova, Adegas Moure, £15.60, Taste of Galicia. Godello is another white variety making waves, and you can see why when you taste the impressively opulent 2009 Godelia Godello y Doña Blanca, around £12.99, Moreno Wines (020-8960 7161), Bowland Forest Vintners (01200 448222), a dry white blended with the obscure Doña Blanca grape. Head to the Basque coast for the most lipsmacking dry white of all, the 2010 Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli, around £14.99, The Sampler (020-7225 5091), Haslemere Cellar (01428 645081).
The plateau of Rueda yields fragrant, shellfish-friendly dry whites such as the 2010 El Quintanal Blanco, Cillar de Silos, £9.95, Berry Bros & Rudd (0800 2802440) and the super-fresh, floral, grapefruit-zesty 2010 K-Naia, Bodegas Naia, £8.99, Worth Brothers (01543 262051), Wood Winters (01786 834894), and its super-ripe, richly flavoured big brother, the concentrated yet zesty 2008 Naides, Bodegas Naia, around £19.99, Handford (020-7589 6113), Noel Young Wines (01223 844744).
No mention of new wave Spanish whites would be complete without a Catalonian context, notably the 2010 La Báscula Catalan Eagle from Agrícola Fuster in Terra Alta, around £11.99, Noel Young, Moreno Wines. No shame is attached to the fact that its refreshingly juicy fruit blends the local garnacha blanca with France's viognier and roussanne in the most harmonious Franco-Spanish accord since Anelka and Torres.
The Wine Gang Christmas Fair 2011 ticket giveaway
The Wine Gang is five of the UK’s most respected wine critics: Anthony Rose of The Independent, Joanna Simon of House & Garden, Tom Cannavan of wine-pages.com, David Williams of The Observer and Jane Parkinson of janeparkinson.com.
For the third year running, they have put together an incredible all-day festival of wine where you can taste from 600 wines priced £6 to £80, take part in a fun and a free wine walk conducted by the Gang, and meet and learn from some famous names who will present tutored masterclasses including Bollinger Champagne, Michael Chapoutier of the Rhone, Bodegas O Fournier from Argentina and Jane Ferrari presenting the icon wines of Yalumba.
This is Britain’s brightest, best and most relaxed wine event and is a fabulous chance to plan your wine drinking for Christmas and beyond. Many of the exhibitors at the fair will be offering exclusive discounts on the day, too.
We have three pairs of tickets to the event, including a masterclass of your choice (subject to availability) to give away (each of the three prize packages is worth £70). Simply subscribe to our newsletter by Monday 17 October and we’ll announce the winner on Tuesday 18 October.
The Wine Gang Christmas Fair 2011, Vinopolis, 1 Bank End, London, SE1; Sat 29 Oct; £20, early bird £15, optional tickets for each masterclass £15; ticketSOUP.com; 0844 481 8898Reuse content