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_350101Bottle Size: 3 LITERWine Advocate: 94+eROBERT PARKER 94+ POINTS: "The 2005 Alion has a captivating perfume of smoke, pencil lead, violets, truffle, cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it is medium to full-bodied, firm, sweetly-fruited, layered, and splendidly balanced. It has several years of aging potential and will offer prime drinking from 2013 to 2025."
- Item #: i_381949Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 99WINE ADVOCATE 99 POINTS - A blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah, 2018 Clos Erasmus comes from a year with good yields and enough rain for good ripeness of the grapes. The vines are now 36 years old on average, and the grapes fermented after a cold soak in 1,000-, 1,500- and 2,000-liter oak vats with indigenous yeasts and a five-week maceration. It matured in new and second use Burgundian 228-liter oak barrels, with around 40% new oak. This is a very elegant and perfumed vintage for Clos Erasmus, a wine that reveals a bright ruby color and a exotic nose that mixes flowers with tons of sweet spices. It is still very young and influenced by the élevage in oak, with something herbal and fresh, reminiscent of pine needles. The palate is textured and velvety, lace and dust, with fine-grained tannins that bring back the memories of the slate rocks; it is pure and detailed and has terrible balance, focus, inner strength, filigree and subdued minerality. I'd wait a little bit for the oak to get integrated before pulling the cork. It has the ingredients, stuffing and balance to develop nicely in bottle for a long time. 3,319 bottles and 100 magnums produced. It was bottled in May 2020."
In a region now filled with big names, Daphne Glorian has been a quiet godmother to the younger generations of winemakers, continuing to promote the good name of Priorat with her exceptional and highly sought-after wines. Her boutique estate of 10 hectares barely produces 140 cases each year, so her first label, Clos Erasmus, is inevitably scarce and expensive. Deservedly so, however, as this is one of the regions' and indeed Spain's greatest of all red wines – rich, powerful, dense and exotically perfumed. Clos Erasmus is also one of the few Spanish wines ever to achieve 100 Parker points, proof that the Priorat region in the right hands produces wines to rival the finest from Rioja and Ribera Del Duero.
- Item #: i_377354Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY GROWN GRAPES
One of the most interesting aspects of winemaking at Clos Mogador is the fact that René presses the grape using an olive press, which has the effect of only extracting half of the amount of juice that a typical wine press would, making the wine 50% more concentrated. Considering that Priorat wines are already highly concentrated, and that "normal" yields are absolutely microscopic (especially compared to other Spanish wine regions such as La Rioja), the wines of Clos Mogador are nearly elixirs. Robert Parker, the influential wine critic, was one of the first international critics to praise the wines of this stunning winery.
- Item #: i_385000Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
This is a wine from southern Priorat, which marks with a lively, warm and fragrant vein the serious, deep and enigmatic character of old vineyards. Blackberry aromas with balsamic notes typical of the brushwood. The palate is remarkably mature and fresh at the same time. It has a natural elegance, as the vision of a landscape where the passage of centuries have managed to harmonize everything. It’s like an invitation from nature.
- Item #: i_350257Bottle Size: 750MLSTEPHEN TANZER 94 POINTS - "Gorgeous , multidimensional aromas of dried red fruits, white flowers, spicecake, leather, underbrush, graphite and lavender sachet. Sil ky and seemingly weightless, with a haunting crystalline purity to the sweet strawberry and redcurrant flavors Sweetly insinuating on the finish, with lingering mineral and strawberry flavors. A remarkable wine that's completely out of step with today's styles : this is the stuff that gets die-hard Rioja traditionalists all weepy."
- Item #: i_383020Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 96James Suckling: 99Another Gran Reserva Rioja makes it into our Top Spanish Wines of 2020, this one being the Prado Enea from Bodegas Muga! A family-owned winery that was founded in 1932, Bodegas Muga is one of the “first growths” of Rioja according to Master of Wine Tim Atkins. It’s stylistically among the “more modern of the traditionalists,” which we’ve found to be a sweet spot for many of our customers. Fullbodied and densely-packed with ripe dark fruits, woodsy balsam, and the typical notes of bottle aging (tobacco, forest floor, truffle). There’s a velvet quality to the ample tannins (thanks to extended aging), along with enough acidity to give the wine life. It’s sure to impress almost any wine lover, especially accompanying rich dishes like roasts with truffle, as well as well-aged cheeses.
Despite the modern advances in winemaking of which Muga makes use, the old-world ways are certainly still a big influence on Prado Enea’s classical style: the fermentation happens naturally without added yeasts, in large 1000 Liter oak vats at natural temperatures, and a long 4 years aging in large American oak vats and smaller French oak barrels. In order to make a more complete wine, and as is typical in Rioja, the 80% Tempranillo is partnered with the classic varieties Garnacha, Mazuelo (aka Carignan), and Graciano.
JAMES SUCKLING'S #3 WINE OF THE YEAR OF 2019!
JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS - "The most structured Prado Enea ever. A reduced center palate that is so compact with dark fruit, dark mushrooms and cedary spice. Full body. Wonderfully polished tannins and a long, long finish. Electric acidity. Muscular and well toned. The is a new classic that reminds me of great Spanish wines from the 1940s and 1950s. Better after 2021, but already so impressive."
WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The most classical of the wines from Muga, the 2011 Prado Enea Gran Reserva comes from a warm year that here was cooler than 2012, when they did not produce it. There won't be a 2013 either. So after this 2011, the following vintage will be 2014 but with fewer bottles and then 2015 and 2016. The wine has a developed nose with some tertiary notes, combined with some notes of ripe black fruit and sweet spices. It fees like an open, expressive and hedonistic year for Prado Enea. The palate reveals polished tannins and some balsamic and developed flavors, truffle, forest floor and hints of cigar ash and incense. Stylistically, this could be close to the 2006, which was also surprisingly fresh for the average ripeness found in Rioja in general."
- Item #: i_380276Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 95James Suckling: 98JAMES SUCKLING 98 POINTS - "This is an extremely powerful, confident wine. So young and so complex. Immaculate black cherries, plums and blackberries and deeply integrated, spicy oak that's super fresh. The power and build is staggering. It's so rich and so balanced with seamless plum-flavored tannins. Perfect!"
WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "In the end, they also showed me the 2015 Torre Muga, even though the wine had only been in bottle for three months. There were no substantial changes in the way this was made—in provenance of the grape, the fermentation or élevage—even though they fine-tune the use of the oak in every vintage. I don't think I've ever tasted such a young and fruit-driven Torre Muga, and even though it felt a little dizzy from the recent bottling, it had great purity and such a structure and build that it is going to need some time in bottle. But this looks like a better vintage than the 2014."
- Item #: i_377301Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 94ORGANICALLY FARMED
PENIN GUIDE TO SPANISH WINES 96 POINTS
WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "The 2012 Quincha Corral is a serious, classic old-vine Bobal from head-pruned vineyard planted in 1945 at 800 meters on sand and chalk soils. This is one of the single vineyard appellation wines, DOP El Terrerazo that was fermented with indigenous yeasts in oak vats and matured for 19 months in French oak barrels. The nose offers notes of plums, some creaminess and some spices on top of well-integrated oak aromas. There is an acute note of licorice intermixed with fennel, aniseed, thyme and rosemary as well. The medium to full-bodied palate has fine tannins and good acidity. "
- Item #: i_387247Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "The Nit de Nin family has grown with the addition of a new vineyard. The wine produced since 2003 comes from Mas d'en Caçador—this was always named on the label, but it is now also specified in the wine name to distinguish between the new vineyard. The 2015 Nit de Nin Mas d’en Caçador comes from the vineyard mentioned in the name, a famous place in Porrera planted with old vines of Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Peluda and Cariñena. It fermented in an oak vat with indigenous yeasts and matured in a similar vat for 18 months. It's heady and ripe, exuberant and very open, a hedonistic, round and lush wine. The palate reveals very fine tannins and great harmony."
- Item #: i_378221Bottle Size: 1.5LSTEPHEN TANZER 94 POINTS - "90% tempranillo and 10% cabernet sauvignon; aged for two years in new French oak): Inky ruby. A complex, highly aromatic bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, cola, mocha and incense, along with subtle notes of vanilla and licorice. Juicy and broad on the palate, offering energetic black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors accented by candied violet and allspice nuances. A zesty mineral element adds lift and cut to the strikingly long, sappy finish, which shows just a whisper of tannins"
- Item #: i_381049Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 95WINE ADVOCATE 95 POINTS - "The single-vineyard 2017 Finca Dofí comes from ten hectares that were planted 20 years ago in the village of Gratallops. It's mostly Garnacha with 8% Cariñena and 1% white grapes that fermented after being destemmed and lightly crushed in oak vats with indigenous yeasts. It matured in large oak barrels (bocoyes and foudres) for 16 months. There is no trace of oak in the wines, and there are no edges; they all feel sleek and elegant. This Dofí expresses the Mediterranean vintage from this vineyard at 300 to 320 meters in altitude, where the slate has a lot of iron, which turns the soils red and makes round and velvety wines, with flavors of red cherries, cherry pit, nectarines and even blood orange. The warm soils are compensated by mostly northern exposures. The palate has volume and is juicy, sensual and velvety, with some fine-grained tannins that currently call for food. It makes for a very gastronomical red. 29,700 bottles produced. It was bottled in April 2019. In 2018, there will be a separate bottling from one hectare of pure north-exposition grapes from Dofí, a new wine called La Baixada."
- Item #: i_378084Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 100WINE ADVOCATE 100 POINTS - "I was really looking forward to the bottled version of the 2018 Pingus after a great showing of the cask sample last year. Part of the wine matured in 20,000-liter oak casks, so it's not all barrique. This is the first time they used the vats, and based on the results, Sisseck thinks in the future Pingus will be around 50% in oak vats. The Pingus vines were planted in 1929 in two different sectors of the village of La Horra, Barroso and San Cristobal and contain some 2% other varieties. The vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic and are manicured like few vineyards in Spain. The wine is subtle and harmonious, elegant and insinuating, with all the components in very good balance. This is precise and pure; Sisseck is thorough and meticulous, and the wine shows that precision. This follows the line of the 2016, showing very well even if it was bottled only one month before I tasted it. 9,300 bottles were filled in August 2020."
- Item #: i_381138Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96+PRACTICING ORGANIC
We love the wines of Raul Perez, not only because they walk the appetizing line between fruity and savory, but because they are like impressionist landscapes of their home. Over the last 15 years Raul Perez has gained a strong following because of his prolific 'vinography', including wines that explore the growing areas near his hometown of Valtuille de Abajo in the region of Bierzo. Bierzo is a departure from the inland valleys and Mediterranean coast as it's distinctly cooler and wetter due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, though well protected from storms, nestled in a mountainous amphitheater. Naturally, distinct varieties of grapes thrive here, dominated by Mencia for red wines, whose style roams the spaces between Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir, Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, and Northern Rhone Syrah depending on the character of the vintage and site.
Mr. Perez's winemaking philosophy is very classical, involving harvesting from old, mixed variety vineyards in which he practices organic farming, with native yeast fermentations that proceed leisurely as the whole grape clusters slowly break down; he then leaves the juice in contact with skins for long periods (a total of 1-3 months!) to gently extract the right amount of flavor and texture for the desired style. Aging takes place in older, used barrels that provide slow oxygenation without covering those carefully developed flavors with oak. Raul also avoids adding sulfites, a risky choice in winemaking, but for him it's a requirement.
This flagship wine is made from a single vineyard, 'Las Villegas', planted at the end of the 1800s. This is the darkest and richest of the wines, with black fruits and tobacco, showing oak influence through its woody & cocoa aromas, and herbal-balsam notes that he describes as reminiscent of an apothecary. With the 2016 vintage the Wine Advocate points out that "the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure," but that the wine still “has great freshness and perfume...It's really outstanding." This is the wine to age if you're so inclined!"
WINE ADVOCATE 96+ POINTS - "There are only 1,000 bottles of the 2016 Ultreia Valtuille (the new name, as all labels have been simplified and cleaned up, and some of the names have even been shortened). The crop was greatly reduced because of mildew, and the grapes are a lot more concentrated, with more tannin and structure, and they had to do a much longer élevage, up to 24 months in barrique. Despite its concentration and power, it has great freshness and perfume. You don't find excess tannin, and it seems like the time in barrel has really polished the edges. It's really outstanding."
Ultreia de Valtuilleis a red wine of very limited production, its first vintage held great international acclaim. "Ultreia" was the greeting that formerly used by pilgrims who were on the road to Santiago. It is a Latin word which today would translate as "forward" or "continue". Ultreia de Valtuille is a single variety of Mencia old variety made with grapes from a single farm, "The Villegas" located in the small town of Valtuille. It is an estate of just over 1 hectare of old vines, planted in 1908, on a calcareous clay soil with lots of sand on the surface. It is located at 530 metres above sea level and has an Atlantic-continental climate, which is cold yet with a relatively moderate climate as it is an area located halfway between the land and the coast. The wine production is done without much intervention. Fermentation takes place in vats. After the fermentation, there is a long maceration and extraction. Ultreia de Valtuille spends 14-15 months aging in French oak barrels used for wine. Once matured, it is bottled without filtering or clarification. Raúl Pérez is a connoisseur of the Mencia variety, with Ultreia de Valtuille one of his masterpieces.
- Item #: i_383121Bottle Size: 750mlCommitted to organic farming and biodynamic agricultural principles, the level of his expertise is unquestioned. The Sastres inherited from their father and grandfather prime vineyard sites in the Burgos area of Ribera del Duero. Jesús has always respected the site and the history of the vineyards his family has farmed.
This is the family wine, made only in the finest years. Hand harvested by only the family members. 2,000 bottles produced from some of the oldest parcels of Tempranillo in Pago de Santa Cruz, blended with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot. One of spain's rarest treasures.
Vintage: An exceptional, well-balanced vintage, similar to the 2010, with a perfect balance between alcohol, acidity and high-quality tannins. This harvest gave tremendous potential for aged wines.
Tasting Note: Full-bodied, ripe,concentrated and intense, a luxurious Ribera del Duero in all senses. Tastes of sily dark fruit, exotic black truffles and grilled lamb.
- Item #: i_377427Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97James Suckling: 99JAMES SUCKLING 99 POINTS -"This is still very tight and closed with so much depth and beauty. The linear line to this is very vertical and draws you down. It shows intense blackberry, dark-chocolate, hazelnut and walnut character. Full body. Chewy yet extremely polished. Precise. Shows decadence. So drinkable already, but better in 2022."
WINE ADVOCATE 97 POINTS - "I was surprised by the aromatics of the 2010 Único, cropped from a powerful and concentrated year that delivered this blend of 94% Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo) and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, with 14.5% alcohol and a highish pH of 3.87. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured in a combination of French and American oak barrels and 20,000-liter oak vats and aged for almost six years. It feels quite ripe and somehow old style, dominated by ripe black fruit, with a rustic and earthy touch. It has an ample palate, concentrated and powerful, with some earthy tannins." - Luis Gutierrez
- Item #: i_383599Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The 2015 Valbuena, a red blend of mostly Tempranillo with some 5% Merlot, is released in the fifth year after the harvest. It's explosive and showy, with a complex nose that shows a mixture of flowers and wild herbs, balsamic touches and great nuance. This wine has gained in complexity since the 2010 vintage, where they implemented some changes that increased the expressivity and precision of this wine. The tannins are fine-grained and there is very good balance, and the warm conditions of the year have been absorbed well by the wine. Despite the natural conditions of the year, the wine follows the path of freshness of the 2010."
- Item #: i_376336Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 96JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "Very impressive red plums and the Alion has a very approachable feel to it, supple and even. The nose delivers some savory, slightly tarry and earthy character with a classic, direct and easy-to-understand feel. Some dried flowers, too. The palate has medium body and delivers fleshy, round red cherries, gently savory, spicy elements and fine, long and detailed tannins. A great Alion, full of flavor, very fresh. Drink across the next 15 years."
- Item #: i_376332Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 98WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "To be released in 2020, the NV Único Reserva Especial 2020 Release is a non-vintage blend of 59 barrels from 2008, 2009 and 2010, mostly Tempranillo with some Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has been getting closer to the style of the Único, and the blend is from vintages very close to the current release of Único, but somehow this year I think the blend has added some complexity to the bottled wine, which has the heart and soul of the 2010 vintage. In fact, they told me they are keeping more wine to have some older vintages to blend for this Reserva Especial, because in the last few years, the wine has been a little too young for the style that it used to have in the past. This has finesse and some of the Burgundian style of the blends of yesteryear. 17,071 bottles and 214 magnums produced. It was bottled in June 2016."