The red wines of Spain are some of my personal favorites for their unique flavors as well as their outstanding value. The unique flavor of Spanish wine is due to the specific terroir of the Iberian peninsula, which consists mostly of dry, infertile soil that produces low yields, which in turn creates grapes with great flavor concentration. Spain is the third largest wine producing nation behind France and Italy, however their wines are less popular, especially here in the states, thus making them an outstanding value.
Spain is home to over 400 different grape varietals, the three most popular red wine varietals are Tempranillo, Garnacha and Monastrell. The largest red wine producing regions are Rioja and Ribera del Duero, which are well known for producing Tempranillo. Ribera del Guadiana is a relatively unknown region that produces fantastic Tempranillos that are great value wines.
There are four classifications, referring to ageing, to look for when purchasing red wines from Spain, Vino Joven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Vino Joven refers to a wine that is young usually with very little to no wood ageing, these wines are meant to be drank within a year or two of bottling. Crianza is a wine that has been aged for two years with at least six months in oak. Reserva wines have been aged for three years with one full year in oak. Gran Reserva wines come from exceptional vintage years and see five years of aging, with at least eighteen months in oak. The prices and quality of these wines are reflected in their labeling.
Clot D’Encis is my favorite cheap wine from Spain, I am yet to find another wine that costs less than six dollars that can compare to this one. This blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon is from just outside of Barcelona. This fantastic red blend has bright red fruit notes on the nose and the palate with just a hint of chocolate. The finish is dry and balanced with smooth tannins. I find it incredible that a wine this inexpensive is so well balanced.
From Ribera del Guadiana Dacu Tempranillo is great value wine, coming in under twelve dollars. I would compare Dacu to many wines over twenty dollars in a blind taste test and be confidant that it would prevail. The balance of ripe raspberry and red plum with smooth tannins, earth and spice is fantastic. I would highly recommend this wine to anyone who likes California Zinfandel and Syrah. If you’re in the mood for a hearty ribeye steak this is the perfect wine for you.
Rioja is Spain’s most famous wine region, therefore the most expensive wines come from this area. I searched high and low and was able to find not one, but two great value wines from Rioja. The first being Cortijo, Rioja Tinto, this Vino Joven is 100% Tempranillo sourced from vineyards just outside the towns of Briones and Arenzana. This wine displays aromas of raspberry, cherry and pepper, with dark and red berry flavors on the palate. The finish is tight with with bold tannins, spice and a touch of licorice. This one can’t be beat for under ten dollars.
Saving the best for last has become a habit of mine, and CVNE’s Vina Real Rioja Crianza is by far my favorite. This blend of 90% Tempranillo with the remainder being rounded out with Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo comes from Rioja Alavesa sub region. This wine is full, rich and balanced with ripe red and purple fruit over a toasty vanilla complex. Well structured on the palate with plenty of fine, lingering rich fruit and a lively note of tannin. The finish is elegant and long with good balancing acidity. This wine is special and coming in under seventeen dollars makes it a great value.The red wines of Spain are fantastic and should be enjoyed by all. I hope this guide will help you find one that you can enjoy.