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_379499Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94James Suckling: 96CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana), which has been a leader in Rioja since 1879,started working with the owners of the Contino estate in 1973 to establish a Rioja "chateau," akin to those of Bordeaux. The vineyards are all located in the Rioja Alavesa subregion, which benefits from high altitude and a combination Atlantic-Mediterranean climate.
JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "This shows so much intense dark berry such as blueberries and blackberries with hints of flowers. Lavender too. Full body, dense tannins with freshness and intensity. So tight and focused. A classic Rioja. Need five to six years of bottle age to come around."
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS- "The 2015 Reserva is a blend of 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% split between Mazuelo and Garnacha that wants to express the character of the Contino estate. It fermented in 12,000-liter stainless steel at 28 degrees to 30 degrees Cesius with 15 to 20 days of maceration and an élevage in 60% French and 40% American oak barrels for two years. It feels fresher than the 2014, and it also shows younger, with better integrated oak, subtle aromas and nice balance. It's medium-bodied, with very fine tannins and good freshness, integrated and balanced. I look forward to tasting the 2016 of this wine, because this 2015 is going in a direction that I like."
- Item #: i_382974Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94 +95% Tempranillo, 3% Garnacha, & 2% Graciano
WINE ADVOCATE 94+ POINTS - "The 2010 Finca Iscorta De Peciña Gran Reserva is their usual blend of Tempranillo with 3% Garnacha and 2% Graciano, sourced from 50-year-old vines from their Finca Iscorta vineyard in the Sonsierra zone; therefore, it is a single-vineyard bottling. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in well-seasoned American oak barrels for 48 months with manual and gravity rackings every six months. This feels very harmonious, combining some primary notes with more-developed tertiary aromas. The palate also reveals a rare mix of power and elegance that only the very best vintages are capable of. It has polished tannins, good volume, freshness and length. Drink or hold, there should be no rush."
- Item #: i_380706Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 93This wine has evolved perfectly showing a deep ruby color with shades of orange. Its nose is persistent, full bodied and showing a lot of mature fruit, being dominated by the Tempranillo grape. Its taste is round, smooth, fresh, full of body and persistent. Perfect with roasted and highly flavored meats, lamb and game.
- Item #: i_382614Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 94JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "The newest project for the Alvaro family, in partnership with Benjamin de Rothschild. This 2015 second wine has an alluring chocolate and cherry nose with impressively integrated spicy oak. The palate has firm tannins in the mid-palate. Very plush, detailed and attractive, long and balanced. Big plum flavor. Very fresh."
- Item #: i_383646Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 94WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The idea with the white 2018 Iraun is to produce a Viura with freshness and subtleness, aged in oak but without being overpowered by wood and creaminess. In reality, it's a Viura-based blend with some 20% other white varieties, Garnacha Blanca, Maturana Blanca and Malvasía Riojana, with only 12.5% alcohol and good freshness from an ancient plot of vines in the village of El Villar. It fermented with indigenous yeasts, and the fermentation started in stainless steel but finished in a combination of tinaja and a used 500-liter French barrel. The wine matured in barrel for 12 months. I was blown away by the purity and harmony of this white, its freshness and elegance. There is contained ripeness, floral aromas, elegant and nuanced. The palate is silky and crunchy; it has more tension (probably the other varieties, especially Maturana Blanca) and a dry, long and serious finish. Only 974 bottles were filled (he lost grapes to mildew) in November 2019."
- Item #: i_380633Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 1994 Gran Reserva Especial (from a great vintage) is medium ruby colored with a lovely bouquet of cherry blossom, earth notes, spice box, leather, black cherry, and plum. On the palate it is multifaceted, elegant, concentrated, impeccably balanced, and holding strong. It should drink nicely for another 10-15 years if not longer."