By Rose Murray Brown MW    Published in The Scotsman 6 February 2016

With the largest area under vine in the world and one of the largest producers, Spain is a natural place to look for good value wines amongst the volume.  The Spanish wine renaissance has really taken shape now with a real focus on quality as well as value. 

The renewed interest in native grapes like Godello, Albarino and Verdejo amongst the whites and Graciano and Monastrell amongst the reds in lesser known regions also now offers the UK wine drinker something different.  There is still a huge number of cheap dull characterless wines on the market, but our tasters have sifted through the shelves to pick out a few Spanish bargains:


Rueda:  SAN ANTOLIN VERDEJO RUEDA 2014 (£8.99 Waitrose)
For those who usually drink unoaked Sauvignon Blanc, give Verdejo from the central Rueda region a whirl.  This is crisp, dry with crunchy fruits, tangerine and citric flavours.  Made by one of Rueda’s oldest wineries from old bush vines: 13% alcohol

Rioja: NAVAJAS BLANCO CRIANZA RIOJA 2012 (£7.50 The Wine Society)
If you fancy an oaky white, this is an excellent easy-drinking bargain.  I liked the balance between ripe fruit, soft oak notes and vibrant acidity so it is full in the mouth, but still refreshing with a crisp dry finish – you could serve it as an aperitif or with kedgeree: 12.5% alcohol

Somontano: VINAS DEL VERO GEWURZTRAMINER 2014 (£5.99 each for 6 bts / £9.99 bt Majestic Wine)
Spicy Gewurztraminer is an unexpected find in Spain, but north eastern Somontano region specializes in international grapes from Chardonnay, Merlot to this lovely zingy Gewurz.  It is much lighter and drier in style than many French Alsace Gewurztraminers, but I love its tropical fruit and honeyed notes. Vinas del Vero are dominant producers here; this comes from their El Enebro vineyard plot: 13% alcohol

Bierzo: TASTE THE DIFFERENCE GODELLO 2014 Marques de Almeida (£8 Sainsbury’s)
I have recommended Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Albarino in the past, but if you fancy something a bit different check out the creamier Godello grape.  It would appeal to those who like unoaked Chardonnay as it has a lemony flavour and broader texture than Albarino.  This hails from up-and-coming northwest Bierzo region: 12.5% alcohol  STAR BUY

Rias Baixas: PAZO DE VILLAREI ALBARINO 2014 (£8.50 The Wine Society; £10.80 Tanners Wines)
Normally you need to pay over £10 for a decent Albarino, otherwise they just taste like over-stretched Sauvignon Blanc.  This is one of the few I have found sneaking under the £10 barrier which is minerally to start, refreshing in flavour with balancing acidity, a hint of salt and a touch of the creamy Albarino character coming through – serve with smoked mackerel: 12.5% alcohol

La Mancha: ESCUDO DE ORO MUSCAT 2014 (£7.64/£8.49 Laithwaites
For those who like off dry aromatic whites, this is all about the primary grape flavours.  Muscat wines really smell grapey with a touch of lychees and honey on the palate.  It hails from the central La Mancha plateau, grown up at 830 metres altitude.  Serve with slightly spicy Thai dishes: 13% alcohol


Jumilla: JUAN GIL 4 MESES MONASTRELL 2012 (£8.98 Woodwinters, Edinburgh & Bridge of Allan; Aitken Wines, Dundee)
For those who love Big Reds, this is always a winner at tastings.  Powerful full-bodied with dark plummy fruits, lush velvet smooth palate and meaty finish.  Monastrell (the same grape as Mourvedre in France and Mataro in Australia) grows particularly well in Jumilla in south east Spain and shows what great value modern Spanish wines can be.  Just do watch the hefty alcohol: 15% alcohol   STAR BUY

Yecla: LA PURISMA SYRAH 2013 (£9 Oddbins)
Spanish reds are not just about their own native grapes, the Rhone grape Syrah has found a home in the mountainous region of Yecla.  Jose Martinez Ruiz has crafted a bit spicy blackfruited red.  Our tasters liked its purity of fruit and violet notes, although some found it too tight and structured.  A wine to serve with food – bring out the spicy paella: 13.5% alcohol

Rioja: NAVAJAS CRIANZA RIOJA 2011 (£7.25 The Wine Society
Soft rounded with a hint of spicy oak, this is a bargain price for Rioja.  Modern in style with a nod to the old with its leathery earthy undertones.  Made by Navajas (previously known a Bodegas Ariona) who used to sell off their grapes to the big producers, but now craft their own blends of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Carignan: 13.5% alcohol  STAR VALUE BUY
La Mancha: TASTE THE DIFFERENCE GRACIANO 2014 Martinez Bujanda (£6 Sainsbury’s)
Made from a single plot of vines grown in the very centre of the vast central La Mancha plateau at 850 metres altitude.  Winemaker Lauren Rosillo of Martinez Bujanda (well known Rioja producers) has worked with the tricky Graciano grape in Rioja, so he has managed to coax the best out of this grape in La Mancha.  Serve this violet scented fruit-driven spicy high acid red with food – preferably roast lamb: 13.5% alcohol

Rioja: LAGUNILLA GRAN RESERVA 2007 (£8.99 / £14.99 Majestic Wine)
If you can buy this Gran Reserva Rioja at its offer price of £8.99, it is a steal.  Cinnamon, spicy, figgy with earthy undertones, this was popular with the Rioja lovers at our tasting.  Compared with Majestic Wine’s Muriel Rioja Reserva 2010 at this same tasting, the Lagunilla Gran Reserva shone out with its mellow aromas, lushness and velvety texture: 13.5% alcohol  STAR BUY

Carinena: CAMINO GRAN RESERVA 2009 (£6.99 Waitrose)
Spain meets the New World.  This upfront fruity red was very popular with our tasters who liked the prominent blackcurranty fruit aromas, spicy vanilla notes and purity of the fruit flavours.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Tempranillo and Garnacha made in the little known Carinena region based south of Rioja and Navarra: 13.5% alcohol                                                              

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