Spain luring back wine aficiondos

Albarino grapes at La Val

Albarino grapes at La Val - Credit: Archant

In the 70s and 80s many wine drinkers turned their backs on Spanish wines, especially the everyday ones as they were mediocre and the new offerings of great value, appealing, easy to drink fruity wines from Australia and South America lured people away apart from diehard Rioja lovers.

However, wine drinkers are being lured back as the fruits of the labours in vineyards and wineries and much investment in modern technology traditional wine making areas that occurred over the last decade or so are being seen in the delicious stylish wines on offer from the varied landscapes and grape varieties within Spain.

Spain is geographically diverse and the different landscapes create microclimates within grapes that are grown producing myriad styles and flavours. In Galicia, in North West Spain for example it is a very verdant area where much rain falls near Coruna on the coast and Santiago de Campostella.

Here, in the Baixas denominacion area, the Albarino grape is very successfully grown and with careful winemaking in temperature controlled conditions makes delicious lemony fresh wines such as those under the Fillaboa & Finca de Arantei labels. The vines are trained high to avoid disease in the wet conditions and breezes from the Atlantic ensure cooler weather.

The Godello grape has also recently come into its own here in the Valledoras denominacion, and its perfumed aromatic aromas and mouthfilling textured taste offer another lovely white wine such as that from Val de Sil.

The North East corner of Spain in the Basque country has some tiny winemaking areas that are now recognised with their own classification – Getariako Txakolina and Bizkaiko Txakolina – whose wines are not widely found in UK wine shops. However, wines from Aragon in this area such as those from Somontano are more widely found. Here, look out for red and white wines from local grapes such as Parrelata but also the ubiquitous Cabernet and Merlot grown in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Campo de Borja is a hot area directly south of Rioja where produces such as Borsao are making robustly fruity reds from Grenache and Syrah and crisp fruity whites from Macabeo grown successfully in inhospitable hot stony vineyards.

Not forgetting Yecla, Rueda, Bierzo, Priorat and Ribera del Duero and myriad other developing wine making areas, one that is of particular note is in Andalucia where an ambitious wine project has been launched making excellent wines in Arcos de la Frontera, northeast of Cadiz.

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The Barbazul and Taberner wines produced since the first vintage in 2002 have been a great success. They are made from Tinta Rota, Syrah and Merlot with aging in French oak casks. The wines have delicious layers of rich ripe chocolaty fruit that lingers on the palate.

Rioja is still the keynote wine of Spain as it has been for many decades but the above shows that it is worthwhile experimenting with other grape varieties and denominacions in which you’ll find wines to enjoy and add to your list of wines to savour.