Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.
- Item #: i_377592Bottle Size: 750mlGUIA PENIN (PENIN GUIDE OF SPANISH WINES) 94 POINTS
Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a winery located in the area covered by the Campo de Borja Denominación de Origen (DO, wine quality standard). It was founded in 2002 with the aim of turning it into a world reference for Garnacha wines of the highest quality, prepared from native vine clones.
‘Alto Moncayo’ is the flagship of the winery (though they make a special wine above this called "Aquilon"). It is also another single-grape variety of Garnacha, from vines between 40 and 70 years old, aged in new barrels for 20 months. It has a remarkable complex nose, with balsamic aromas, redolent of black fruit, roasted notes and a very good structure in the mouth.
- Item #: i_378696Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 92Decanter: 90 to 95 point score55% Garnacha & 45% Carinena
DECANTER 92 POINTS - "Luxurious aromas of plums, violets and cedar with delicious red fruit quality. Palate is fresh, with nice concentration and soft tannins."
JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Enveloping black-cherry and blueberry aromas, but also notes of licorice and smoke. A bold and powerful Priorat with discreet oak and plenty of freshness. The tannins are supple and beautifully integrated, the finish generous and polished."
While originally conceived of as a value wine, Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes" has slowly evolved into the essence of what makes Priorat special. Drawing on 15+ years of study, Terrasses is sourced from many of the region's steepest and oldest vineyards-many of them north-facing to avoid the intense afternoon sun. With the 2007 vintage, Alvaro acknowledged Les Terrasses' "graduation" by adding the "Velles Vignes" designation to the label.
The son of the owners of Rioja's Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios spent his early 20s working and studying winemaking outside of Spain. His experience abroad - particularly in Bordeaux - instilled in him a deep passion for great wines and led him to return to Spain. With the ambition to make wines that could be world-class. To achieve this dream, Palacios was drawn to the historic hillsides of slate soil and its traditional grape varieties of Garnacha and Carinena. Now widely considered to be among the more important new Spanish wineries in a generation, Alvaro Palacios embodies the spirit of "The New Spain."
- Item #: i_382927Bottle Size: 750mlGrape Variety: 93% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 2% Garnacha
A wine with strength, young, with many things to tell but with the fresh voice of the youth. Very pleasant to drink, easy to blend it with food and especially delicious and fresh. Black cherry, tobacco, toast and mineral flavors mingle in this focused red, with light, firm tannins and crisp acidity. Supple, fresh and balanced.
- Item #: i_382919Bottle Size: 750mlLegendary Australian Winemaker Chris Ringland and partner Jorge Ordonez have set out to make explosive, rarified bottlings twice before, with Alto Moncayo & El Nido “Clio.” Triga is the newest of these partnerships, this time centered on a local partnership with Tarima/Tarima Hill in Alicante, Spain. The blend is very similar to the early bottlings of El Nido “Clio,” made primarily of extremely low-yielding Monastrell (aka Mourvedre), from mountainside vineyards (the oldest planted in 1925), with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon added to the blend (planted in 1981).
Triga is the hedonistic luscious masterpiece that fans of Alto Moncayo and El Nido “Clio” would expect. Look for an inky, purple black color; ripe blueberry and liqueur-like blackberry fruit complimented by a range of exotic spices. Triga overflows with richness and power, but the vineyard sits on a mountain of fossilized chalk. This limestone influence shows with added minerality and a vibrant, red currant-like raciness underlying the fruit.
- Item #: i_380210Bottle Size: 750MLMas de Can Blau is a red wine produced by the winery Can Blau in the D.O Montsant. This winery, located in the town of Molá (Tarragona) belongs to the group Gil Family States. Mas de Can Blau is a blend of the varieties Cariñena, Syrah and Garnacha. The grapes originate from old vines of 40 years of age. For its production, the maceration and fermentation is performed in small stainless steel containers. The malolactic fermentation is completed in French oak barrels, and in the same barrels where is was aged for 18 months. A Large aromatic intensity, presence of ripe red fruit combined with and abundance of roasted tones.Full bodied and enveloping on the palate. Passing is unctuous and tasty. Very good acidity and round tannins. Long and persistent finish.
- Item #: i_382149Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2012 Finca Valpiedra Reserva is produced with the grapes from the older vineyards and the clay-rich soils after a soil study. 2012 was a very dry year that delivered concentrated wines. It's a blend of Tempranillo with 6% Graciano and 4% Maturana Tinta, fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in French barriques for 22 months. The nose is quite developed, with notes of candied fruit, leather and spice, and it feels a bit warm. The palate is medium to full-bodied and shows grainy tannins."
90% Tempranillo, 6% Graciano, 4% Maturana Tinta
- Item #: i_377944Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE - 94 POINTS
Garnacha is an important component in the 2012 Vina Ardanza Reserva, where it represents 20% of the blend (the rest is, of course, Tempranillo). 2011 was a difficult vintage for Garnacha, so Vina Ardanza was not produced that year and they jumped from 2010, which had the mention "Selección Especial," to 2012, where it returns to the regular Reserva. The wine is a prototype of polished and aged Rioja with a ruby color with some orange and a developed nose with subtle aromas of decayed leaves, sweet spices and some cherries in liqueur even, quite complex and harmonious. The palate is velvety but rich, with resolved tannins and a fine chalky mouthfeel, sleek and elegant, terribly balanced. The flavors are pure and defined, and there is an overall sense of harmony that I like very much. Brilliant Ardanza! They produced no less than 600,000 bottles of this wine, which is remarkable. It has been in bottle since March 2016, so it's very approachable but should also age nicely in bottle. Drink or keep.
- Item #: i_381144Bottle Size: 750MLJAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "Lots of mushroom and walnut aromas with plum and leather, too. It’s full-bodied, but very soft and creamy-textured with lots of old wood, mushroom and ripe fruit on the finish. Some chocolate and hazelnut. Complex and gorgeous. Drink or hold."
DECANTER 90 POINTS
- Item #: i_380837Bottle Size: 500mlUngrafted Malvasia Volcanica (yet another Malvasia!) from the world’s strangest vineyards on the black, barren, and lunar-looking surface of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. Rich toffee and sultana notes meet bitter orange and terrific acidity to remind the drinker of great Madeira. Very long and ultra-faceted.
- Item #: i_387100Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - " It was great to taste the 2017 Planetes de Nin Garnatxes en Amfora next to the 2018 even though the two years are very different, and 2017 is the warmer and drier of the two. The two wines could not be more different, like night and day. This is a lot more Mediterranean, with notes of hay and straw, rosemary and thyme and a smoky bacon touch. The palate has the Priorat minerality, with an earthy touch, very fine tannins and a supple, clean finish. 6,660 bottles and 270 magnums were filled in June 2018."
- Item #: i_382163Bottle Size: 750mlWINE SPECTATOR 91 POINTS - "This red is fresh and lively, with a core of black cherry and plum accented by licorice, tobacco and mineral notes. The tannins are light but firm, the balsamic acidity bright, focusing the polished texture through the smoky finish."
- Item #: i_383728Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95 +WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "... The difference with the 2017 is the quality of the tannins, which rounder and more elegant here, and the concentration, which is lower here, so this 2018 comes through as more fluid, fresh and elegant, with a silkier mouthfeel. They finally bought the vineyard in 2018, and the change in viticulture resulted in lower yields..."
- Item #: i_383726Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "La Poulosa is quite regular and ripe, with notes of prunes, and even though there is more freshness in 2018, the 2018 La Vizcaína La Poulosa shows closer to the 2017, keeping the profile of the vineyard, which is very strong. In fact, there is only half a degree difference in alcohol between this 2018 and the 2017. There is more fruit here, and it's juicy and approachable, with integrated oak (they started replacing the 225-liter oak barrels with 500-liter ones), more freshness and a livelier palate. The tannins are round, with no edges, despite the fact that all the La Vizcaína range ferments with 100% full clusters."
- Item #: i_383727Bottle Size: 750mlWINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "La Gundiñas is the wine that shows the most differences between 2017 and 2018, when the 2018 La Vizcaína Las Gundiñas feels like a mini-Bonnes Mares! ... There have been ups and downs with this wine over the years, and this 2018 is clearly one of the ups... This is super elegant, a rara avis. Bravo!"
- Item #: i_383252Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95For those who love "terroir wines," Raul Perez is one of those people to follow no matter what they make. He has a seemingly innate winemaking talent and an intimate working knowledge of his vineyards near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the Bierzo region of Northwestern Spain. We're particularly excited to sell some of his latest releases from the 2018 vintage, which Raul thinks was the best in at least a decade, if not in his 25 years of making wine there! This is reflected in some great reviews from The Wine Advocate, which you can check out below.
The climate and soils of Bierzo are a distinct departure from the Mediterranean coast and the semi-arid high plains and valleys of inland Spain: it's distinctly cooler and wetter from the greater Atlantic influence. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines and Godello for whites. Mencia-driven wines from Bierzo can traverse a style between Oregon Pinot Noir and Rhone Valley Syrah: they have a moderate amount of velvet-textured tannins with spicy, mineral sensations, and floral aromas along with both dark and red fruits, like brambly blackberry and fresh cherry. Godello shares some things in common with dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley and the best sites of South Africa, with subtle flavors ranging from the citrus family (lemon, grapefruit, & orange), quince, and stone fruits (peach & nectarine) along with a broad mouthfeel and crystalline or crushed rock 'minerality' on the palate that can carry a mouthwatering saline sensation like in good Chablis.
Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is at the same time traditional and innovative, involving harvesting from old, mixed-variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, and with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely. Depending on the wine, aging takes place in a mix of concrete, amphorae, and mostly older barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors. Raul also minimizes the use of sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement. None of the wines are filtered or fined.
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "2018 is a great vintage: The cycle was long and Godello ripened properly, so they avoided the excess bitterness on the finish, as you can see in the 2018 La Vizcaína La del Vivo. It's made the same way as in previous years: they use 500-liter oak barrels and one amphora with skins and flor that is used for the final blend. Having such perfect ripeness, the wine is very tasty, and there's no fruit but a lot more austerity-they select the vineyards (around two hectares) for that straight and austere character (there is a little bit of Doña Blanca too, which adds to the austerity). It has a saline palate and some rugosity, complex, with no room for sweetness. I think this could live 10 years and develop great complexity. In 2019, they replaced some of the barrels with a 2,500-liter oak foudre. This is the most austere and serious white in its finest vintage. A white for purists and one that is going to develop very slowly. There are 4,000 bottles of this. It was bottled in September 2019."
Godello and Dona Blanca.
- Item #: i_378110Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 95Hi-Time has been supporters of Bodegas Roda’s wines for a long time, so it’s no surprise that they should be included in our list of Top Spanish Wines of 2020! Founded in the 1980s, it’s a relative newcomer in this old winemaking region, but they quickly earned a reputation as a top-tier producer of Rioja by committing to quality in all areas of modern winemaking, from vine to bottle. Part of that quality comes from farming the land without synthetic chemicals.
Their flagship wine, called Roda I, carries the structure of a fine Bordeaux, built to age. But like the Bordelais, they have given us a “second wine” that’s approachable now: the Roda Reserva. This is modern Rioja defined in a glass. It’s vinified and aged in French oak (American oak as traditionalists might use) for a subtler contribution of vanilla and oak spice. They also age their wines less before release than more traditional styles, opting for a more youthful, primary expression of the grapes. The varieties are classic, of course: Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (9%) and Garnacha (6%).
The wine has a sleek freshness that gives it a medium-full weight and avoids plush & sweetly-fruited territory, maintaining instead the classic, dry Rioja style. It carries tightly packed aromas and flavors of dark fruits (like macerated blackberry and black plum) and floral hints, with the oak contributing a rich nuttiness (almost chocolatey), along with subtle vanilla and spice. The overlying texture is soft with well-integrated oak adding breadth, but is supported by a fine-grained, moderately chewy tannin that will make this a great partner for heavy tapas and lean, grilled or roasted meats. Serve at cellar temperature and give it some time to open up in the glass.
JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "Blackberry and bark with some black-tea undertones on the nose. The firm, fine and polished tannins are very long and very pretty and add tension and finesse to this wine. Medium body and a lovely texture. Drink or hold."
- Item #: i_383506Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95 +WINE ADVOCATE 95+ POINTS - "One of the very few Bierzo wines from limestone soils and the only white I know of is the amazing 2018 VO Cal. It's from a year when ripening was slow, so the grapes ripened thoroughly and the acidity is more integrated. This is still 12.5% alcohol and has seven grams of acidity with a pH of 3.1—a white of moderate alcohol and vibrant freshness, plus the freshness and sapid sensation of the limestone ("cal" is the Spanish word for lime). This matured 50% in barrique and 50% in amphorae/tinaja for one year. This is perhaps not as radical as 2017; this is the first vintage when the wine went through malolactic fermentation, so the profile is a little different, a little more approachable, but with the austere profile and the salinity of the limestone. This perhaps has more depth and more weight and is probably going to age for a longer time. The nose has the textbook chamomile aromas and palate keeps the citrus and saline character. It's vibrant, layered and complex. It's clean and evolves slowly in the glass, so it should develop slowly in the bottle too."
- Item #: i_383438Bottle Size: 750mlA very nicely crafted, highly drinkable wine that offers up a lot of enjoyment. Reasonably serious, clean and fresh, this displays crushed sea shell, dense fruit, and well integrated brightness. Not overtly serious or complex, yet has depth and lip smacking qualities. Enough stuffing to to last perhaps 3 years or so.