There have been lots of exciting developments with wine in the past decade, but one of my personal favorites has been the widespread access of affordable, delicious Spanish wines in the American market. Even though wine has been made in Spain for at least 3,000 years, the region doesn't have the prestige (and associated fear of entry) that you get with France, Italy, and Germany. As always, I have nothing against the major wine producers of Europe, but if you get excited about Spanish wine you can get great stuff for $10-20 and there's no real equivalent of Barolo or Burgundy collectors looking down at you. For your drinking pleasure, here are four recent bottles I've had the opportunity to try:
I'm starting with the lighter, more traditional wines. These would work well with a wide range of dishes, including poultry, sausages, olives, cheeses, etc.
2009 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia
50% Garnacha (Grenache), 50% Tempranillo
$15, 14.5% abv.
This is a deep, rich wine with some wonderful notes to it. Leather, tobacco, pepper, boysenberry, medium tannins. Throw some lamb chops on the grill and don't be afraid of the spices. Side note: I love this label design. It reminds me of some of the great children's books of the 60s and 70s, when there was a lot of experimental art. Sometimes half the fun was trying to figure out what those abstract shapes represented.
2007 Herencia Remondo La Montesa
Blend of Garnacha (Grenache), Tempranillo, and Mazuelo (Carignan)
$20, 14% abv.
This is a great, classic Rioja that is nice and mild. The aroma and flavor is mostly light red cherry. The body is smooth, light, and the tannins just show up on the finish. If ever a wine called for a great pork chop, this is it.
Next up are two wines from Tempra Tantrum, a label of Bodegas Osborne. These are more casual, easy going wines that will work well for cookouts or lots of the casual dinner fare we enjoy here in los Estados Unidos. Consider these wines the same way you would a casual Supertuscan from Italy. In both cases, you're going to want some grilled red meat and some hearty flavors to go along with the wine.
2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Shiraz
$12, 13.5% abv.
Very light nose with raspberry, and lots of tart berry flavor. Big tannic finish.
2009 Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon
$10, 13.5% abv.
Black cherry, touch of chocolate, also a big tannic finish.
Note: These wines were received as samples.