Make sure to look at this survey on the blog FERMENTATIONS. Not only is it informative, but it also really opened my eyes as to the perspective people have about Spanish wines. Of the 216 people who took the survey, you can be sure that every single one probably has enjoyed wine on a somewhat regular basis. I suggest reading the entire article, but I would like to point out a few numbers for you:
-Spain walks away with the award for most intriguing wines. Nearly 60% said they definitely want to learn more about this country’s wines. Italy is not far behind.
Not bad! I would have to agree that with 63 DOs (and this number is growing), and almost as many unheard of grapes as Italy, Spain certainly is “intriguing”. My top 3 picks for both “up and coming” regions and “new grapes to look out for” (in no particular order) are:
- Bierzo - Located in the far western edge of Castille y León, this region is making a name for itself most notably for the grape Mencia (see below). The vineyards are planted along the slopes of the river Sil and its tributaries. This area has really shown me what Spain can do by taking an almost forgotten grape and helping it reach its potential: Bierzo is a name to watch out for.
- Txacoli - Granted there are 3 different Txacoli regions, but this area until recently was about to fade into the distance. However, with a resurgence of interest and money, a new wave of wine makers is reviving this almost lost region. From the whites, their strong point, look for crisp vinho verde like wines with a good acid that pairs wonderfully with the regions plentiful seafood. Ondarribi Beltza is the white grape that makes up 80% of production. It’s an obscure grape with origins that most believe lie in the surrounding landscape, but honestly no one is completely sure.
- Toro - Being located in the shadow of its venerable neighbor Ribera del Duero, where such giants as Vega Sicilia reside, many have overlooked this area. Yet with time it has gained both in reputation and status playing host to 32+ bodegas. The primary grape it owes its success to is Tinto de Toro – another name for Tempranillo. Look for wines rich in fruit with an earthy backbone.
- Mencia-Deep, dark and potentially brooding, this grape has the stuffing and can make some high calibur wines when given the chance. The level of clean fruit in these particular wines never ceases to amaze me.
- Verdejo- make sure to check out this primary grape of the Rueda. Due to new technology that allows more control over fermentation temperatures this wine is coming alive. Look for crisp dry whites with both body and a perfumey nature that continually draws your nose back into the glass.
- Graciano- a long shot for sure. Graciano is primarly used for blending into the wines of Navarra and Rioja. Most often it’s the grape that makes the wine inky and rich, lending i’s bulk as the backbone on which to hang the lush fruit that Tempranillo brings. Recently though, I’ve had the chance to try some single varietal bottlings of this grape, and from what I’ve tasted so far, I will continue to seek them out. Rich, big, and structured they stain your teeth and demand heart clogging foods, to soften their tannins!
3. BEST VALUE
Ask to choose three countries with the best value, 50% looked to Spain, perhaps explaining why so many wanted to learn more about that country’s wines. No other country really comes close, though Australia, supposedly the “value continent” comes in with 38% naming it as full of value
Once again, I can’t argue. When I sold wine back in the States, I was constantly asked where the best values come from in the wine world. My answer was always Spain. Their price to value ratio is off the charts. Heck, while living here, I have tasted a 1 Euro 80 cents white wine from the VT (Vino de la Tierra) of Madrid that blew me away.
2004 Vinos Jeromín Vega Madroño – Spain, Madrid (6/9/2005)
Can’t say I’ve had much Malvar or Airen but this wine makes me wish I had. 60% Malvar, 40% Airen, this is truly a “find. Pale yellow with brilliant clarity. The nose is of peach flesh and includes a slight floral touch. Med weight in the mouth with a medium acid component. It is crisp and vibrant on the palate. Soft fruit shows in the mouth, with light melon, some green table grape flavors and a delicate floral finish. The palate is slightly off-dry and the finish cleanses your mouth, leaving you with a pleasant fruit forward after taste. At 2 euros a bottle, why not have more! c5a12t15o7=89
All in all a great poll with some interesting results. Keep up the great work Tom.
Till soon, Ryan