Some people in Spain have already started the outdoor swimming season and they claim that the water is not chilly at all. After such a mild winter, we are almost in the mood for summer. With sunshine and longer days, we look forward to sitting outdoors to enjoy food and wine. Trends like pét-nats, Atlantic whites, rosés of any shade of pink or light reds help to adopt the perfect state of mind to welcome spring. We have selected 15 wines that fit this style among our latest tastings.
A cava that goes beyond all stereotypes. Made in the style of a pét-nat, this sparkling wine has no added sulphur (it is, therefore, a natural wine) and carries out its first fermentation in stainless steel tanks before finishing it in the bottle using some left-over residual sugar. Like the rest of natural wines made by Alta Alella in a separate cellar called Celler dels Aus, the result is seamless. Forget about the funky, wild notes usually found in many natural wines. Ageing times (between 15 and 24 months) are also longer than the standard for pét-nats.
Bruant tries to bottle the surrounding landscape of slopes overlooking the sea in Alella, very close to Barcelona. Xarel.lo, the wine’s dominant grape, is planted on the area’s granite-sandy soils called sauló. Flowers and white fruit aromas with a touch of honey are followed by nicely integrated bubbles and a fine, slightly bitter finish. A.C.
Find this wine for €15.35 at Vinissimus.
This cava made by Jané Ventura in El Vendrell (Baix Penedès) offers amazing value. Aged for almost 55 months, it is sold for less than €15 so it’s worth getting hold of a few bottles. The recently released 2013 vintage offers a great deal of freshness combined with a subtle, balanced profile —aniseed and lively herbs together with brioche-like aromas. This lovely cava is the result of blending the three traditional white grape varieties. Xarel.lo takes the lion’s share followed by Macabeo and a little bit of Parellada.
“Do” refers to the musical note C (a name used in Spain and other southern European countries) given the Jané family’s long-standing support of musical activities in El Vendrell to honour cellist Pau Casals who was born in the village. The local auditorium and the International Festival, which the Jané family sponsors, are named after this famous musician. A.C.
Find this wine for £12.10 at Uvinum.
Sourced from a 25-hectare plot grown under integrated production viticulture in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, near Gernika, Berroja is gradually emerging as one of the most interesting txakolis in Vizcaya. Produced chiefly with Hondarrabi Zuri (80%), the remaining 20% Riesling adds com-plexity and structure. It is vinified in stainless steel tanks with no oak input and is kept on its lees for eight months before filtering and bottling. Citrus notes, white flowers and a touch of salinity, Berroja boasts a pleasant acidity and length. It is a fully-fledged white wine, totally different from the sparkling and ultra acidic style that is standard in many DO Getaria wines, which many consumers still identify with txakoli.
If you want to discover Berroja's ageing potential, we recommend you try some of the old vintages stored by sommelier Jon Andoni Rementería in the cellar of Remenetxe restaurant nearby. Y.O.A.
Find this wine for €9 on the winery's website.
Manuel Moldes is part of the new generation of terroir-focused producers in Rías Baixas who are more interested in exploring their soils and vineyards than waxing lyrical about Albariño, the flagship grape variety in the area. Vinified in Moldes’s winery in Sanxenxo, a tourist village on the Galician coast, Pescuda is his entry-level white. The fact that is made outside the Rías Baixas appellation limits the amount of information on the label to a mere “Product of Spain”. Presented in a Rhine-shaped bottle, this is an honest, affordable entry-level wine that is a great introduction to Albariño wines made with spontaneous fermentations and to a style in which soils and salinity dominate over the fruit. An easy-to-drink wine that brings the sea to your glass. A.C.
Find this wine for €10.80 at Decántalo.
The last of our Atlantic whites comes from Pobra do Caramiñal in A Coruña -this is the Barbanza peninsula, on the banks of the Arousa estuary, in northwestern Spain. José Crusat is a staunch advocate of natural wines, but his not-as-funky Komokabras range is likely to appeal to a wider audience. There is a Komokabras Amarillo (Yellow) that is fermented in barrel with no malolactic fermentation and the unoaked Komokabras Verde (green) that we have selected. This wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and combines equal parts of Albariño that has undergone malolactic fermentation and lees stirring and Albariño with no malolactic fermentation at all. The result is a clean, pure white wine with fennel aromas followed by a vibrant palate and zesty acidity. Pure Atlantic style. A.C.
Find this wine for €11.75 at Ideavinos.
Gaspar Florido is one of the great names in the Sherry Triangle, a man who, when for-ced to dispose of part of his assets, decided to maintain his estate and El Armijo vi-neyards in Pago de Miraflores in Sanlúcar and sell his winery building and most of his soleras. Now his daughter Isolina has decided to bottle part of that legacy by producing a white wine with the help of Ramiro Ibáñez.
The name 12 Liños refers to the dozen rows (liños, in the local language) of old Palo-mino vines whose grapes go into this wine, which is kept in old manzanilla barrels for a few months without flor. Bottled as a table wine - the DO Jerez does not accept this category of wines for the time being - 2017 is the second vintage and is bottled in a Burgundy bottle (the 2016 vintage was released in a Bordeaux bottle).
With a pleasant entry and finish, the wine transports you immediately to the soils of albariza. Balanced and tasty, 12 Liños talks terroir and sense of place. Perfect as an aperitif and to enjoy with food. Y.O.A.
Find this wine for €12.50 at CuatroGatos Wine Club.
The fashion for pale rosés has gone unnoticed for this family winery in Alfaro. Foun-ded in 1940 by Amador Escudero, Ilurce owns 60 hectares of vineyards, mainly Gra-ciano and Tempranillo, in the Sierra de Yerga between 300 and 600 metres above sea level. The current generation, led by their grandchildren Inmaculada, Amador and Ana, has decided to maintain the traditional rosé style in the area despite the fact that their US importer is always telling them that if they tone down the colour their sales would increase considerably.
The Garnacha grapes for Ilurce rosado are cold macerated for two days. The resulting must is bled and fermented with indigenous yeasts and temperature control in stainless steel tanks. It is a fresh, tasty and direct wine, with strawberries and jelly aromas and a citrus touch that brightens it up. It's a great wine to drink with the first rays of sunshine. And it costs less than five euros! . Y.O.A.
There are three key elements behind this wine: the cold, high elevation vineyards of Soria, the most remote part of Ribera del Duero; the recovery of the local tradition that blends white and red grapes; and the sophisticated approach of French winemaker Bertrand Sourdais who favours direct pressing. The 2018 vintage is a blend of 30% Albillo (usually grown on limestone soils) and Tempranillo. We like the seamless packaging and the wine’s charming name, both in line with the style of the wine: floral (petals), fennel, red berries. A delicate, delightful rosé. A.C.
Find this wine for €9.90 at Lavinia.
This wine is more than a pretty label. In fact, it brings a new dimension for the steep, breathtaking vineyards of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia as the region’s Regulatory Board now welcomes rosé production. This wine is part of a new range of rosés made with indigenous grapes by the young generation now running the winery. Paloma, Adrián and José Moure have teamed up with winemaker Nacho Álvarez (formerly at Jorge Ordóñez group) and source the Merenzao grapes from a 90-year-old vineyard planted on granite soils with traces of slate. Following a brief maceration, fermentation takes place in 500-litre French oak barrels. On the nose, lush red fruit and apricot over a spicy background; the palate is juicy, saline and aromatic and offsets the 14% alcohol (who would have said!).
The wine’s sophisticated look follows the trend of premium roses: pristine salmon pink colour, glass stopper and a label inspired on the river Miño’s mythological creatures called xacias, and designed by Ana Rivera, who has made a name for herself in the recording industry. Only 2,000 bottles were produced. A.C.
Retail price around €19.
This is not your usual Jumilla as it goes to show that fresh wines are possible in Spain’s southeast if you play your cards well. Made by Elena Pacheco and Isio Ramos as they seek to explore different landscapes and terroirs in their region, Navaluejos is probably their fresher wine. Grapes are sourced from cold, high-elevation vineyards in the village of Tobarra where sandy soils rich in pebbles cope well with summer drought. We particularly enjoyed the combination of a sort of dry stone, mineral character and its lively, vibrant style. A fresh great-value wine that is likely to appeal to occasional wine drinkers and to serious wine lovers who will love its terroir-driven style. A.C.
Find this wine for €12.90 at Vinissimus.
So when was the last time you had a red wine from Navarra? Don’t be put off by the word Reserva on the label —this Albret Lastra ( “lastra” refers to stony soils) fits well with the style of straightforward, enjoyable wines we are listing. A juicy, balanced, medium-bodied Tempranillo blended with 10% Merlot, it displays crisp, crunchy fruit on the nose and very discreet oak on the palate. Soft, round tannins make for a versatile red wine to have at hand this spring. A.C.
Retail price around €11.
A new partnership in Bierzo between the Michelini family from Argentina (Gerardo Michelini and his wife Andrea Muffato) and local grape grower Javier González. They source grapes from various hamlets like Ozuela or Toral de Merayo, in the vicinity of Ponferrada, where their winery is located. Capitán Beto is their regional wine; fermented in amphora and aged in oak on this vintage, they expect to ferment it in stainless steel tanks in the future. The wine is made in the style of their friend Raúl Pérez: relatively early harvests, whole-bunch fermentation of Mencía and other lesser-known white and red varieties and long vatting times. This is a scented, floral Mencía, showing tension and good acidity; easy to drink and less dense than other 2017 wines that registered high levels of concentration given the severe spring frosts in Bierzo. A.C.
Táganan is a seductive volcanic red wine made by the Envínate group of winemakers in Tenerife, one of the most iconic quality producers in the Canary Islands. It comes from a variety of plots with a mixture of ancient local varieties and vineyards planted on the steep and beautiful slopes of Taganana in front of the Atlantic Ocean.
Each plot is vinified separately in concrete and open buckets with native yeasts and 30% of stems. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is transferred to seasoned bar-rels for eight months without racking or sulphur until it is bottled.
Considered one of the best vintages of recent years in the Taganana area, the heat and drought of 2017 resulted in very healthy, quality grapes being harvested in this natural-ly humid area. Spicy, mineral and ripe reflecting the vintage, it has a pleasant and fluid mouthfeel that makes it very easy to drink but without detracting complexity. A very enjoyable wine. Y.O.A.
With experience in various winemaking projects in Rioja and Navarra, Luis Moya de-cided to produce his own artisan wines in 2012 with grapes from a variety of locations in Navarra, where he hails from. In 2017 he had the opportunity to manage a hundred-year-old Garnacha vineyard on a steep slope in Tirapu, a village in the Valdizarbe region south of the Pamplona basin, where a lot of old vines were uprooted and replaced with cereal crops. This is where El Yesal (gypsum, in Spanish) is born and where it takes its name -the soils where the vineyard is located are shallow and rich in magnesium and gypsum. Neglected for years, Moya is applying intensive care to this pretty vineyard, which is now treated only with sulphur and copper and without herbicides (he now uses a manual weed-eater) and has removed spurs to control yields, which are now 2,500 kg/Ha.
The warmth of the 2017 vintage meant that grapes ripened well producing a red wine that is aged for seven months in Navarra and French oak. It has medium body with pleasant floral and earthy notes and manages to maintain balance and freshness despite its 15% vol. According to Moya, "it is a pure wine without make-up”. Y.O.A.
Find this wine for €17.50 at Vinoteca Rubio.
A member of the Magaña family, a winery that pioneered the planting of Merlot in Spain, winemaker Diego Magaña also manages his own project in Bierzo, where he works with some of Raúl Pérez's vineyards. In Rioja Alavesa he makes Anza 2016, the first vintage of this red wine made with bought-in grapes from vineyards located around Laguardia. Fermented with native yeasts in 500-litre open top barrels for about 21 days, the wine was aged for 12 months. It is a 100% Tempranillo with a fresh profile and pure red fruit notes, followed by a very well integrated oak. Balanced and tremendously drinkable.
Magaña, who has always wanted to make his own wines in Rioja, has recently acquired vineyards in Laguardia (1 hectare) and Elvillar (1.2 hectares) of which he hopes to present new wines in the 2017 vintage. Y.O.A.
Find this wine for €15.95 at Vila Viniteca.