If you’re not making it to Spanish shores this summer, there’s no need to miss out as Matt Dicks, WSET qualified Beers, Wines and Spirits Specialist for Waitrose, lists his favourite wines from Spain.
So far on our exciting voyage through the world of alcoholic beverages (I know it’s a bold sentence to start this article – must be the caffeine surge on a Sunday morning), we’ve looked at a wide range of drinks to suit all types of events and special occasions. I’m sure some of you would be lying if you were to say that you’ve used up all that wine you bought for Christmas!
Now it’s time to set the sail and highlight some of the delicacies that countries across the globe have to offer us. Now, in our office I sit opposite a rather charming Frenchman who, would naturally agree that France producers some of the world’s best wines. Whilst that statement may be true, it’s neighbouring Spain where we touchdown first. This flamenco-dancing, tapas-tantalising country may boast the largest area under vine across the entire world, just over a million hectares to be precise; however it’s not the largest producer. This is down to its varied climate. Many of us plan a holiday to Spain to seek out the sun, in a bid to escape the UK’s rather dismal winter. However, the sun does have its advantages as it makes grapes destined for wine much riper, concentrating the fruit, resulting in much juicer, richer flavours.
The country has such a diverse climate, with its wine regions; stretching from the cool Atlantic Ocean lapping up the shores of Galicia, to the sun-kissed Mediterranean coast in the Levante. If you often find choosing a bottle of wine a baffling task, then seek out Spain as the answer to your problems.
Fan of Sauvignon Blanc and looking for something new and exciting? Crack open this excellent, ripe and refreshing Albariño. This strikingly elegant and enticing wine boasts flavours of ripe apple, white fruits and a refreshing minerality. North-western Spain enjoys a flamboyant seafood culture, so why not pair this awesome Albariño with your catch of the day?
We might all be familiar with red wines from this popular region, but it’s whites are worthy of a shout too. This marvellously rich and creamy, soft-fruit style, white Rioja is full of elegance and charm. With immediate citrus character on the palate, this wine benefits from fermentation in cask, which rounds out the flavours. Perfect with foods made with rich, creamy sauces.
The Mediterranean influenced region of Andalucia may be popular with Sherry lovers, but high up in the mountains, hidden away behind the beaches and holidaymakers, lays a part of the region ideal for red wine production. Boasting a cooler climate, this contributes towards creating a medium bodied wine of real freshness. Complex, yet easy drinking, with plenty of juicy fruit to get your teeth into, its subtle flavours will dance flamenco-style on your tongue. Time to bring out the Tapas!
Dating back to the 12th Century, Scala Dei is the oldest winery in Priorat and today is one of the region’s leading wineries. The earliest records of winemaking in the region date back to 1163 at the local monastery. With just 60 hectares under vine, the vineyard offers limited production, boutique wines with exceptional complexity and fruit expression. Scala Dei vineyards are the highest in Priorat at over 700m.
A browse through Spain’s fermentable fancies wouldn’t be complete without a shout for Sherry! This light and fresh single-vineyard Manzanilla combines dryness with a lovely salty tang. Note the term ‘pasada’, this refers to the fact that this Sherry is an older Manzanilla with more flavour after being aged for about 12 years in American oak casks. A delicious match for smoked foods and seafood.
For more wine tips follow Matt on Twitter @vinopatrol