These are our top picks to enjoy a lovely bottle of wine without having to spend much. Most of them are no nonsense, genuine well-made reds which gracefully express their origin and the varieties they are made from. Serve them on decent wine glasses at an appropriate temperature to maximize your experience –around 13-14ºC for young reds; never above 18ºC for the rest.
Retail prices are for Spain but many of the online stores we mention deliver to most European countries at the same price providing there are no extra local taxes. When available we have also included Wine Searcher data.
Artuke 2014 Tinto (Rioja). For wine geeks, this wine must be their best kept secret to make the most of their budget. Deeply rooted in Rioja Alavesa, brothers Arturo and Kike de Miguel manage to deliver an explosion of delicious fruit on the palate and a great deal of pleasure for its price. Moreover, we love the way the family still pay a great deal of attention to their entry-level red now that they have built a superb range of village and single-vineyards wines. Following the same style, the 2015 vintage has just been released and can be found at Decántalo (€5.20).
Niño de las Uvas 2014 Tinto, Bodegas el Rosario (Bullas). This is an uncomplicated pleasant blend of Monastrell and 15% Syrah that is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged for about four months in barrels. A clean nose with fragrant red fruits and candy aromas is followed by a lively palate. Located in the inner area of Murcia (south-western Spain) with vineyards at 800m above sea level, Monastrell reds from Bullas tend to be fresher than those from Yecla or Jumilla —in this case also less structured. The wine is not widely available in Spain but can be found at La Botiga del Vi (€5.50). Other options in UK via Wine Searcher.
Petit Pittacum 2014 Tinto (Bierzo). Young, well-made Mencía is a particularly pleasant and enjoyable grape variety. Aged for just one month in three-year-old barrels, the “little” Pittacum delivers a good deal of fragrant red fruit. This tasty, restrained, well-made red with enveloping texture provides an excellent gateway to one of Spain’s most distinctive red grape varieties. Its cute packaging is likely to help with sales. 2014 is the brand’s second vintage with 120,000 bottles produced. Find it from €6.50 at Ideavinos and €6.70 at Vinissimus.
Baltasar Gracián Garnacha Viñas Viejas “El Héroe” 2013 Tinto, Bodegas San Alejandro (Calatayud). Garnacha from Aragón is one of Spain’s major sources of value wines. If we have to choose at the supermarket, we will always go for a young red from this region on the banks of the river Ebro rather than a bargain Rioja Crianza. With its rugged landscape, mountain climate and diversity of soils and altitude, Calatayud, one of Aragon’s four appellations, offers fresh and distinctively floral Garnachas. This is a good example with a pleasant, fragrant nose packed with red berries. A tasty, juicy, easy-to-drink red wine. From €7.80 at Vinissimus and currently on offer at Vinósofos (€7.28). Other options via Wine Searcher.
La Maldición 2014 Tinto para Beber de Marc Isart (Vinos de Madrid). Berna-beleva’s winemaker Marc Isart has recently set up on his own. But instead of staying put in the Gredos mountains west of Madrid, Isart has moved south to Arganda thus replacing Garnacha for Tempranillo. The most original feature in this wine is that it includes 15% Malvar, a minor local white variety. Recovering white grapes in red blends, fermentation with stems or the use of concrete vats are traditional winemaking practices that the new generation of young Spanish winemakers like Isart favour in order to make unbaked fresh wines that retain structure without losing flavor. Part of this wine’s name “Tinto para beber” (literally “red wine to drink”) stresses this fact. Expect a young, direct, fresh wine with red fruit (blueberries, berries) and violet aromas followed by a balsamic and spicy (pepper, licorice) palate. From €8.09 at Andana Enoteca but note that La Tintorería distributes it officially in Madrid.
La Zarcita 2014 Tinto, Palacio Quemado-Alvear (VT Extremadura). With a little help from the young team of winemakers and consultants Envínate, well-known Montil-la-Moriles’s producer Alvear has completely transformed its red wines produced in their winery in Extremadura (Central West Spain). The recovery of indigenous grapes exten-sively grown on the other side of the border in Portugal’s Alentejo is the main reason. In fact, their most audacious wines —Los Acilates and La Zarcita— are no longer part of Ribera del Guadiana appellation and are sold since the 2014 vintage with the generic VT Extremadura label. Undoubtedly, the wines have a new punch and feel more energetic and fruit-driven. Pomegranate, plums and passion fruit aromas dominate in La Zarcita, a red wine that feels juicier and fresher than the standard in this sun-drenched region. A noticeable earthy finish adds an extra dimension. The 2014 vinatge (€8) is avilable at the wine retail chain Tomevinos. Other options via Wine Searcher.
Prima 2013 Tinto, San Román (Toro). Those looking for powerful reds should set their sights in Toro. This is the entry-level wine of the García family (Mauro, San Román) in the area and is a regular in Spain’s best value category under €10. The 2013 vintage delivers a clean nose with ripe red fruit (plums), licorice and minty aromas fol-lowed by a savoury palate with dry tannins wrapped-up by lots of fruit. From €8.85 at Decantalo. More options via Wine Searcher.
Scala Dei Garnatxa 2014 Tinto (Priorat). This Catalan appellation rarely features in best value lists because prices here tend to be high, but this young red can be an afford-able introduction to one of Spain’s most rugged wine growing regions. No doubt Scala Dei’s efforts to grow Garnacha on the Montsant mountains and its adoption of some vinification practices from the 1970s has had an impact in Scala Dei’s wine portfolio, including this single-varietal Garnacha. It now includes 15% undestemmed bunches and it is partly fermented in concrete vats. Pleasant aromas (blueberries, sweets and violet) are followed by a gentle, quaffable palate with sweet fruit counterbalanced by a bitter note on the finish. From €8.89 at Vinos Barcelona. Other options via Wine Searcher.
Rayuelo 2012 Altolandon (Manchuela). The most distinctive feature of this winery located in Castilla La Mancha in Central Spain is the high altitude of their vineyards —over 1,000m— which delays ripening and brings natural freshness to the wines. Often rustic or even harsh, the Bobal variety at this altitude behaves differently. This is a fra-grant red with wild berries aromas and a light ligneous character; very juicy and with lovely persistence. Find it for €9 at the winery’s online store or via Wine Searcher.
7 Navas Selección 2011 Tinto, Garnacha Alto Alberche (VT Castilla y León). This Garnacha from Ávila, on the western edge of the Gredos mountains, is a genuine, low-technology red displaying earthy, mineral notes rather than fruit —a usual trait in the area. Given that it comes from over 60-year old vines grown at 800 to 1,000m high, this is an affordable luxury in your glass. This wine is the result of the efforts and passion of several local couples who decided to recover the region’s wine heritage, so this is more of a moral duty than business. The wine can be bought from Licores Madrueño (Calatrava, 19) in Madrid. For further information contact the producer on +34 616 416 542.