There has never been a better time to explore the wines of Spain. Although the country's history in wine dates back centuries, recent investments in winery technology energized by Spain's move into the European Union quickly cultivated a "modern style" of quality winemaking. Now, exciting wine values from Spain are popping up on wine lists and retail shelves worldwide.
With more land under vine than any other wine-producing country, navigating
Spain's vast wine regions can be a daunting prospect. Start your search by sipping
wines of Rioja, Spain's most prestigious red-wine region. Blended mainly from
Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes, the ageworthy reds of Rioja are often compared
to the elegance and earthiness of French Pinot Noir. But even though red rules
in Rioja, don't miss out on the white Rioja made from the Viura grape. It offers
a great value for summertime quaffing.
Just west of Rioja is Ribera del Duero, another exciting region with plenty of powerful reds. Sharing the same characteristics as Rioja, the warmer climate of Ribera del Duero produces riper grapes with richer concentrations of fruit and tannins.
While exploring labels, try selecting a bottle from the evolving wine regions
of Penedes, Navarra, Toro or Rías Baixas. Delicious wines are produced in every
corner of Spain and chances are these wines are on a shelf or wine list near
you, just waiting to be discovered.
Marianne Frantz, founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by Josh Kaplan,
general manager of Varietals Wine Bar and Café, in selecting wines for this
month's Cellar Notes.
2000 Marques de Caceres, Rioja ($15): Strawberry,
cherry, spice and leather surrounded by crisp acidity and firm tannins. This
wine's modern styling pairs well with a variety of foods, making it a good choice
for gift giving.
2001 Vina Mayor, Tinto Roble, Ribera del Duero ($12):
Sun-drenched cherry, tobacco and learthery flavors with bright acid and firm
tannins make this an excellent food wine. Try it with roasted meats.
2001 G Dehesa Gago, Toro ($10): Full of stewed
red fruit, baking spices and a bit of toasted oak. The noticeably soft tannins
make this red good on its own or with a juicy burger.
2002 Coto de Hayas, Tinto, Campo de Borja ($9):
Intense strawberry, herbs and hints of green peppercorn. Crisp acidity and soft
tannins make this an ideal summer red and a great value.
2002 Coto de Hayas, Garnacha Centenaria, Campo de Borja
($15): Bright red fruit and hints of blood-orange peel. Its firm, pleasing
tannins require food with some weight, such as grilled steak.
2002 Marqués de Cáceres, Rioja White ($9): Light-bodied
with ample acidity. Its profile of lime, citrus and floral-peachy flavors is
perfect for patio season.