Spain – A Wine Superpower

I would call Spain one of the world’s Wine Superpowers.  It has more land area under vine than any other country, including France.  However, its drought prone summers reduce the grape yield making it fall to 3rd place in wine production after France and Italy.  Still, that is no small number.  According to Decanter Magazine, it produced around 42 million hectolitres in 2017!

As typical in Europe, Spain has had a long run to reach this status.  Archeologists have discovered that grapes predate human settlement is Spain and grapes have been cultivated there since between 4000 and 3000 BC.  On top of that, Spain has been exporting wine to England since around 1250.  That puts Spain among the world’s first countries to export wine off the continent (the other 2 are France and Germany, whose wines also found favour in England).

Spain is more known for its red wine, especially Rioja.  However, it has excellent whites as well, including white Riojas, and has spectacular fortified wines from the south of Spain, as witnessed by the many types of Sherry available from sweet cream Sherries to bone dry Finos.  So, let dive into some wines from Spain, truly a global wine superpower.  As customary, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by the British wine writer, Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

Izadi Blanco Rioja 2017 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages)  Here is one of Spain’s white Riojas that’s very good to excellent. It has tremendous refreshing acidity, lemons, intense minerals, and green apple make it a great pairing for seafood paella or pan fried scallops with a squeeze of lemon.

Goru El Blanco 2017 ★★★½ $13.95 (Vintages) Very aromatic, and very good, Spanish white made with Moscatel and Chardonnay. Dry, medium body, and intensely fruity floral, apple, and grapefruit make for an interesting wine for your favourite shrimp recipe or for an aperitif.

Castillo de la Mota Verdejo 2017 ★★★★ $12.95 (Vintages)  This white produced from the Verdejo grape makes me think of a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in terms of aromas and flavours. It’s wonderfully crisp and makes a very good pairing with rich seafood, especially salmon or would work with salads a well.

El Pedrosal Crianza Ribera del Duero 2014 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages)  A lesser known region than Rioja that produces terrific reds like this one.  It’s a big wine with lots of dark fruits, tobacco, spice, vanilla, and leather. Good acidity and medium tannins with a lingering finish. Pair it with stronger flavoured meats like lamb or game.

Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo 2009 ★★★½ $11.95 (Vintages)  If you want to see how a red wine ages, try this one. Gran Reserva means it must be aged for at least 5 years prior to release; this one is aged for 7.  It is ruby to garnet coloured and shows muted black cherry, piney forest floor, spice, leather, and coffee. Good match for roasted meats like pork or beef.

Gran Feudo Reserva 2012 ★★★½+ $17.95 (Vintages) Lovely Spanish red wine blend that’s starting to gracefully age and includes native Spanish grapes (Tempranillo) and non-native grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon). Medium body with leafy black currant, lots of spice, and black cherry.  This would be a good match for mild charcuterie or hard cheeses.

Enrique Mendoza La Tremenda Monastrell 2016 ★★★½+ $17.95 (Vintages)  This Monastrell (more commonly known outside Spain as Mourvedre) has some definite tannic grip, but also shows a dark purple nature, with spice, blackberry, plum, and black cherry. Good match for hearty meats or mushroom dishes.

Monasterio de las Vinas Gran Reserva 2011 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages)  Here we have another very good to excellent example of an aged red (Gran Reserva). A blend of Garnacha (more commonly known as Grenache), Tempranillo, and Cariñena (better known by its French name Carignan, but the grape is thought it originate in Spain) that is showing some signs of maturity, but still has some tannin and medium acidity. It’s starting to turn ruby and has cedar, leather, prune, red currant, vanilla, and a vegetal note. Match it with some smoked sausage.

Izadi Reserva Rioja 2014 ★★★★½ $21.95 (Vintages) A seductive Reserva that’s an excellent, medium bodied red wine. Lots of coconut up front, but followed by beautiful ripe raspberry and cherry with just a touch of forest floor. Pair it with an oven roasted beef filet sprinkled with sea salt from Trapani.

Osborne Santa Maria Cream Sherry NV ★★★½+ $13.95 (LCBO)  If you would like a Spanish dessert wine, Cream Sherry is your answer. This is a good medium bodied wine that has honeyed dried fruit and spices with a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Serve it slightly chilled (pull it out of the refrigerator about 30-45 minutes prior to serving it).  It is lovely paired with fruit desserts like pies, pastries, or as a post dinner drink.