Top 10 Spanish wines
Has there ever been a better time to drink Spanish wine? For many, of course, Spain has always meant the dark-fruited, often lean and old-fashioned, red wines of Rioja, with an occasional foray west to Ribera del Duero, a case or two of Penedes to the east, and many sips of sherry. Rioja dominates for many reasons. It produces wine at every level – at the top end, venerable old wineries like Beronia (below), Cune and Muga, Viña Tondonia and Marques de Murrieta produce perfumed, delicate wines that will last five decades and more; but even the vast commercial producers like Pernod-Ricard’s Campo Viejo (every corner shop in the UK is required by law to stock it) are utterly reliable.
But wine is produced in every corner of this vast and thirsty country, from the rainy coast of Galicia in the north-west, to the desert-like vineyards of Alicante to the east. In Rias Baixas on the Atlantic coast, you’ll find fresh and luscious Albariños and Godellos, like the award-winning Bioca below. On the other side of the country, on the Mediterranean, the vineyards are arid and sandy, the winemakers coaxing elegant Monastrell and Bobal from stunted vines.
Spain’s winemaking tradition is at least as old as the beautiful Arab watercourses that criss-cross the vineyards. Now we have dedicated importers who know and love the country, bringing in wines from Somontano (see the lovely Blecua below) Ribeiro, Mallorca, Campo de Borja (the Borsao, below), La Mancha or Bierzo. These wines are modern and fresh, full of bright acidity and lifted fruit. They go perfectly with dozens of dishes (try Godello with grilled sardines, or the classic combination of Rioja and lamb).
The wines below are all IWSC 2017 top medal winners. Try them and you’ll see why the judges loved them.
Deep ruby hue; cherry and black fruit with coconut oak; palate shows creaminess with just enough linen tannin texture and bright acidity, well-balanced and quite complex, lifted finish.
Where to buy: Amazon, £44.20
Deep ruby colour; strawberries-and cream with cinnamon spice accent; savoury palate, lively acidity and line-textured tannins, great fruit definition with integrated oak, toasty finish. ‘Individual’, slightly edgy, faceted.
Where to buy: Vinissimus, £25.34
Bioca Godello 2016
Interesting Godello with higher notes of intense lemon, ripe lime and a hint of orange blossom on the nose. The palate is balanced with lovely fresh acidity, and full of fruit and touch of spices.
Where to buy: Fareham Wine Cellar, £11.50
Morrisons The Best Albariño 2015
Pale greenish yellow colour. The nose offers lemon, melon and stone fruit characters which caress the palate and bring a layer of minerality. The wine is medium to full bodied, lashings of fruits and bags of personality.
Deep ruby-purple; dense, ripe cassis with cigar box on nose; powerful and rich palate with masses of extracted fruit and firm structure. Long finish. Time-in-hand. ‘Parkerised’ wine, but none the worse for that.
Mid-depth ruby colour; dark berry fruit with rose petal and white pepper accents; creamy attack on the palate, quite full-bodied with spicy oak more noticeable, crisp acidity and supple tannins, nicely integrated wine with no sharp edges.
Medium ruby with garnet rim; attractive cranberry and raspberry with vanilla oak and earthy overtones ; svelte palate with flesh behind, lively acidity and velvety tannins in support; savoury note on the graceful red-fruited finish.
Deep ruby colour; aromatic cranberry and strawberry fruit with nicely balanced vanilla oak, classic Rioja Reserva; elegant and fresh, almost frivolous on the palate, lovely linen-textured tannins. Creamy finish.
Almost opaque purple-black colour; rich cassis aromas with toasty oak; on the palate big and bold, dense tannins, yet good freshness to balance the massive fruit and high alcohol, savoury and spicy, long powerful finish. Glorious now, but will certainly improve.
Deep ruby with garnet rim; ultra-ripe summer-pudding fruit, almost raisined, spicy oak overtone; rich and full, rich plummy fruit balanced by supple tannins and fresh acidity, gamey-earthy accents, nice length.
Where to buy: Decantalo, £5.40
> Check out Harden's top 10 Spanish restaurants in London
The IWSC 2018 is now OPEN - enter now to be in with a chance to win a gold medal this year. For more information or expert help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- “As a start-up brand you focus hard on achieving credibility and creating awareness. Winning Gold Outstanding and the Mezcal Trophy provided us with a level of credibility and exposure that we simply could not have achieved on our own. The awards helped secure key listings in Harvery Nichols and Selfridges and certainly played a significant part in opening up dialogue with potential U.S importers and ultimately securing one. I thought hard about which competition to enter and what the return on that investment would be. I can say with absolute confidence that the IWSC was worth every penny.”David ShepherdFounder & Director, Corte Vetusto
- “IWSC is a very important competition to us in terms of showing consumers our quality. It's one of the competitions that we definitely enter on a yearly basis.”Ian ChangMaster Blender, Kavalan Distillery
- “Out of all of the awards, the IWSC is probably the most prestigious and most honest awards. You choose your judges very well and they're very good, honest, decent people. They do it for the love of the industry.”Sukhinder SinghMD, The Whisky Exchange
- “The IWSC is a very prestigious competition. The prestige is a great thing to be able to communicate to our customers who have great respect for it.”David PorterOperations & Buying, Lea & Sandeman
- “The IWSC represents everything, without a doubt. There's no better competition in the world where you can judge yourself not just against your countrymen but against the rest of the world.”Andy AndersonWinemaker, Takapoto Estate
- “Fantastic company and fantastic award . . . In the wine industry, having an award like this is such an accolade.”Claire GriffithsCommercial Director, Vina Cono Sur
- “It's one of the greatest international awards you can get. It's similar to an Oscar, if you like.”Lenz MoserWinemaker, Yantai Changyu Pioneer Company
- “Because of the number of international judges that are tasting the wines and the number of wines that are being entered, it’s a great privilege for us to receive this award. The history of the competition, the standing that it has amongst the international wine world and certainly amongst one’s peers, to be able to get an award at the IWSC means a lot. There are a lot of competitions around the world – this probably represents the top award you could get as a winemaker.”Gary & Kathy JordanWinemakers, Jordan Wine Estate
- “It’s a great honour to win especially as nowadays people are focusing on the quality not just the numbers, so it does mean a huge amount getting recognition from an institution as well sought after as the IWSC.”Chris BlandyOwner, Blandy's Wines
- “This will be a recognition that will help in building the brand further, and building its prestige around the world.”Victor FuentesDirector General, El Coto de Rioja S.A
- “The IWSC is a well renowned, well looked up to standard and a symbol of premium products so it’s a great achievement to win any award.”Andrea FreeboroughCellar Master, Nederburg Wines