If I asked you to name three Spanish wines, my guess is they would be cava, rioja and sherry. Nothing wrong with that, of course – they’re all terrific value for money – but Spain has a lot more to offer. Whites, for a start. Albariño, which I wrote about last month, may be the country’s rising star, but don’t overlook refreshing, spritzy txakolina, which is produced around San Sebastián; godello, which should appeal if you’re a chardonnay fan; and rueda, if you fancy ringing the changes on sauvignon blanc (Aldi has a decent one for just £5.29 in its Baron Amarillo range).
Rioja also comes in white, as well as rosé, or rosado as it’s known in Spain. Rosado tends to be more savoury and full-bodied than the Provence version, and is therefore really good with barbecues and gutsy Spanish rice and bean dishes. The Baron de Ley wine in today’s pick is a well-priced example.
There’s also more to red wine in Spain than rioja, much as I enjoy it and regard it as the ultimate wine for a cheeseboard (a claim that may provoke heated discussion). Nearby Ribera del Duero is similar, though I often think a touch more bordeaux-like. If you like bright, fruity reds, look out for mencia from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra in the north, and for bobal from the southern region of Utiel-Requena, just west of Valencia. (We could do with more bobal, supermarkets!) Or, if you prefer a more full-bodied red, scan the shelves for jumilla, which is made from monastrell (AKA mourvèdre). At £7.95, the 15% Castillo de Zalin organic monastrell 2021 I mentioned a couple of months ago is a terrific buy at from the Co-op (or £8.50 online).
I know that now is possibly not the best moment to suggest this, not least given the overall rise in the cost of living, but trading up a pound or two on the staples really pays dividends. Premium supermarket sherries are so much better than the basic versions, and they’re still mostly fantastically good value (Pedro’s delicious 15% fino, which is currently on sale at £9.49 for a full-size bottle in Waitrose, is actually cheaper than the company’s own label). If you’re buying rioja, reservas are generally smoother and more mellow than younger crianzas (you can, for example, still get Asda’s excellent Extra Special Rioja Reserva for £9). And a plea to treat cava seriously: Joan Sardà’s delicately peachy Brut Reserva (£14.25 Corney & Barrow, 11.5%) takes cava to another level, and for much the same price as a supermarket crémant.
4 Spanish wines you might not have tried
Baron de Ley Rosado de Lágrima 2022, Rioja £9 on offer at Asda, 13.5%. A good, dry savoury rosé that would stand up to Spanish rice dishes and early autumn barbecues.
U Mes U De Llevant 2022 Malvasia de Sitges Penedès £14.95 (going up to £15.95 shortly) Ultracomida Aberystwyth and Narberth , 12.5%. Creamy with a whiff of orange blossom. A perfect aperitif wine.
Pazo da Maga Karma do Sil £16.95 (or £15.50 as part of a mixed case) Lea & Sandeman, 13%. Deliciously citrussy, fresh-tasting godello from Ribeira Sacra, in northern Spain. Perfect with seafood.
Luna Beberide Mencia Bierzo 2022 £10.50 The Wine Society, 13%. If you like beaujolais, you’ll love mencia. Drink it with Galician-style empanadas (with tuna).