10 best Spanish wines that will transport you to southern Europe with just a sip

Red, white and rosé all feature among the more famous rioja and albarino. These are the ones to try

John Clarke
Monday 03 August 2020 14:45
The tipples from this country are often more concentrated, and fruit led
The tipples from this country are often more concentrated, and fruit led

Although it has more land under vine than any other country, Spain comes third in the world’s largest wine producer list, after France and Italy.

That’s because the dry climate and often arid terroir mean the vines have lesser yields than their continental neighbours. But as a result, the wines are often more concentrated, and fruit led.

After years of neglect, there was a dramatic turnaround in the quality of Spanish winemaking at the end of the 20th century.

Now, the wines being produced there are among some of the best and most drinkable in the world.

Our selection draws from the unofficial centre of wine excellence in the country’s north east as well as the drier central regions and often overlooked Basque area.

Two of the country’s most famous wines, rioja and albarino, feature along with a selection of reds, white and rosés that prove that Spain remains in the top tier of wine producing nations.

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Viña del Cura rioja gran reserva 2013, 14%

Gran reserva is the highest category for rioja, meaning it’s an exceptional vintage which has spent at least two years maturing in oak barrels and three years in the bottle. This example, part of the Tesco Finest range, was produced in partnership with the award-winning Baron de Ley winery and is made from hand-harvested tempranillo grapes. Huge amounts of intense, dark fruit flavours are matched by notes of vanilla and spice. A big wine to go with a big meaty meal.

Beronia rosé rioja 2018, 13%

A beautifully light coloured rosé made from garnacha (grenache) grape. The grape skins and juice are refrigerated in a cold maceration process that brings out the intense flavours and aromas of this summer favourite. Strawberries and red fruits are to the fore with floral hints on the tongue. A real thirst quencher, it’s perfect to drink on its own or with light fish and salad dishes. It’s a wine made for long summer evenings.

Hiruzta Txakoli Hondarribia 2018, 12%

As you can tell from its name, we’re deep in Basque country here with a superb example of txakoli, a dry, lightly sparkling white wine that’s relatively low on alcohol but big on flavour. Made from the local zuri grape in Hondarribia in north west Spain, it’s crammed full of pleasingly acidic orchard and citrus flavours. When you add the bonus of that slight effervescence, it makes for an impeccably refreshing and enjoyable glass of wine.

Vega Badenes verdejo 2018, 12%, six bottles

From the Isidro Milagro Bodegas, one of the top 10 wineries in Spain, comes a dry white wine from the Castilla-La Mancha wine region in the centre of the country where arid summers and cold winters produce distinctive wines of a specific taste and flavour. Classed as “vino de la tierra” or “country wine”, it’s made from the local verdejo grape that gives the wine its pale yellow-green hue and fruity flavours, with hints of peach and tropical fruit allied to a natural acidity. Clean and vibrant, it’s a wine worth investigating.

Panoramico rioja 2016, 13.5%

Still the most famous wine to come out of Spain, rioja has a reputation that’s easy to justify. At its best – which it is here – it’s rich and rewarding with intense aromas of black fruit and redcurrants, smoothly blended with notes of smoky spice and pepper. Made from tempranillo and garnacha grapes picked from 50-year-old vines and partially aged in oak, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a red meat meal or even robustly spiced rice and pasta dishes.

Veigadares albarino adegas galegas 2013, 13%

Albarino is Spain’s other great wine, a fragrant and aromatic dry white made for summer that is also good for all-year round drinking. This multi award winning example from the albarino heartlands in Galicia, north western Spain, is rich in tropical and stone fruit flavours with a subtle oakiness that comes after it’s aged in oak barrels for six months. Bright and textured it’s an ideal accompaniment to fish or seafood dishes or Spanish cheeses.

Y-Knot tempranillo merlot syrah 2018, 13.5%

An enterprising blend of blend of tempranillo, syrah and merlot from the Castilla-La Mancha wine region in the centre of Spain. Buckets of red fruit flavour here with a wine that is red cherry in colour and smooth and succulent on the tongue. Pair it with a steak, a barbecued beef burger, or a mature cheese. Great value too.

K-Naia verdejo sauvignon blanc 2019, 13.5%

A blend of verdejo (85 per cent) and sauvignon blanc (15 per cent) from the illustrious Bodegas Naia winery in Rueda offers everything you want from a summer wine. Crisp, dry and vibrant with hints of tropical fruit and lush grassy meadows, it’s an immediate crowd-pleaser and has a lengthy and pleasing finish. Enjoy this straw yellow wine as a superb aperitif or with a platter of fresh seafood.

Mar de Frades albarino 2018, 12.5%

Made from grapes handpicked in the Salnés Valley in the Rías Baixas wine area in north west Spain, this is a beautifully refreshing and elegant albarino. Bright citrus and soft fruit notes are complemented by the slight salinity from the Atlantic breezes that blows over the vineyard. Eminently drinkable, it’s the ideal accompaniment to any fish or seafood dish. Each label also benefits from a heat sensitive symbol of a blue ship which appears when the wine is chilled to 11C, the recommended drinking temperature.

Viñas del Vero secastilla old vines garnacha 2013, 14.5%

Looking for a red wine that’s something special? This concentrated grenache, which is made from grapes picked from vines that are close to a century old, should fit the bill. You pay a lot, but in return you get a heritage wine from close to the Pyrenees in north west Spain that is rich, intense and complex; the evolving blackcurrant and black fruit character deserves respect. Decant a good hour or so before pairing it with a robust, meat led meal or keep it cellared for another few years for an even more rewarding flavour.

The verdict: Spanish wines

Spanish wines suit the sunlight, so if you’re looking for something to complement a warm summer’s day then try the Beronia rosé rioja, or for something a little different the aromatic Hiruzta Txakoli hondarribia. As the evening draws on and the English summer turns to unseasonal weather we’re used turning to a red. And for this, opt for our IndyBest buy, the Viña del Cura rioja gran reserve. It’s a traditional and rich rioja from an award-winning winery that offers all the intense flavours and fruity vibrancy you expect from Spain’s most famous wine.

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