This is SWL’s selection of red wines to start the year in style and without breaking the bank. All of them can be bought in Spain for less than eight euros. We’ve tried to bring different styles from large and small producers reflecting Spain’s wide array of wine regions and grape varieties. Wines are listed by price in ascending order.
This wine reveals the first changes taking place at the group of wineries owned by Hijos de Antonio Barceló in Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Toro after Almudena Alberca took over winemaking. In her first 2015 vintage as technical director she worked hard to find higher quality grapes while refining the selection process. Her first red, a pleasant and easy to drink ‘Roble’ was bottled in late July and was released relatively late for what is usual in the category. The aim is to have a good presence of fruit by blending equal parts of Tempranillo aged in stainless steel tanks and barrels for six months. This is a youthful, straightforward red with aromas of macerated grapes, supple tannins and polished (micro-oxygenation is a great tool for entry-level reds) and there is enough acidity to ask for a second glass.
I had the chance to taste a selection of wines from Beronia in Rioja in October and was happily surprised to find a solid, reasonably priced range. With over 3.5 million bottles produced, their Crianza is a widely available red. I particularly liked the style of this vintage, which was a cool year in Rioja. Red fruit plays a dominant role with some fresh, herbal notes. Oak is extremely discreet, something which is not often seen in the Crianza category. A fresh, balanced red and a fantastic everyday wine.
This is a real favourite for wine nerds and, probably, one of the best value reds in Spain. Winemaker Juan Antonio Ponce has managed to get the best out of Bobal, a rustic variety with harsh tannins, which he grows at high altitude in vineyards in Manchuela in Castilla-La Mancha. Low yields, early picking, relatively short maceration times and occasional aging with thick lees are his particular secrets to tame tannins. This wine is a blend of eight early-ripening plots planted on clay-limestone soils. All of them are fermented, pressed and aged separately. Inspired by Marcel Lapierre’s Morgon, it displays blackberries and blueberries over a mineral background. The palate is juicy and balanced with finely integrated tannins and dark liquorice notes on the finish.
Well-known Bierzo producer Dominio de Tares set up a second project in the province of León and Estay is their entry-level red. The focus here is to highlight the potential of the Prieto Picudo grape variety grown around the area of Los Oteros. It is astonishing that grapes for such an affordable wine are sourced from 80-year-old vines. After barely four months in barrel, the grape comes across in a straightforward manner showing lots of red and some dark fruit followed by minty notes that linger on the palate. Well-made and pleasant to drink. 60,000 bottles have been produced.
Find this wine in Spain for €6.90 at Bodeboca.
This is my favourite red of this relatively new venture launched by Elena Pacheco and Isio Ramos as an independent project from Viña Elena, the family winery. Their aim is to reflect the diversity of landscapes and areas found in Jumilla. Las Chozas is located in Tobarra, in the northernmost area of the appellation, in the province of Albacete. Monastrell grapes are sourced from ungrafted, 35- to 50-year-old vines grown at 650m above sea level. Two types of soils co-exist in the vineyard: limestone-gravel and sandy. Half of the wine is aged in foudres while the other half rests in stainless steel tanks. The result is a fresh, herbal, deep red with ripe plum aromas and a slightly nutty character. Less heavy and far juicier than the standard Jumilla, this is an exciting discovery indeed. 18,700 bottles were produced from this vintage.
Find this wine for €6.95 in Spain at Ad Vinum.
Even if the Sanz brothers are better known for their Garnachas from Fitero in the south of Navarra, this Graciano regularly features in many best value wine lists. The variety’s distinct vegetal notes (in this vintage I also found aniseed aromas) are wrapped up by heady aromas of red berries. I loved the vibrant, bright palate with red fruit, inky notes and integrated acidity. It is not heavy in any way, yet flavours are consistent and have more depth than you would expect in this price range. Nine months in barrel have tamed Graciano’s stiffness without oak taking a dominant role. A smart buy.
A red wine intended for adventurous palates, it was the first 2016 I tasted this year. It is made from Trepat, a little known variety grown in Conca de Barberà in Catalunya —I guess we’ll hear more of it in the near future. Trepat produces light, low-alcohol (12% vol. in this case), wines with zesty acidity in line with the trend towards less structured reds. This is a Beaujolais style fermented with whole bunches so expect wild red berries and candied fruit on the nose. Due to the lightness of the wine, acidity plays a dominant role. Its vinous, rustic character reminds me of the grapes and the soil and you can almost smell the fermentation. This is the kind of wine one would love to find when you are exploring a new wine region and you want to know what the local wine tastes of.
Find this wine for €7.25 at Vinissimus.
Garnacha could not be missing in this selection; even if Aragón is the most obvious choice for value, I suggest a look at Terra Alta (Tarragona), Catalonia’s southernmost appellation and its Garnacha Peluda, a variant of Garnacha with distinctive hairy leaves. Almodí is one of the few Garnacha Peluda single varietals available at such an affordable price. The 2015 vintage displays earthy and wild berries aromas followed by a juicy palate with higher acidity levels compared to standard Garnacha, thus adding length and persistence.