Help Me Experience Spanish Wine -- PLEASE!
I'm studying abroad in Spain and would love to use this opportunity to learn more about Spanish wine. I'd love to taste some different wines but am overwhelmed and completely ignorant when shopping at the stores. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions of some inexpensive wines ($20 and under), but all suggestions are more than welcome. Muchas Gracias!
Cote De Imaz - is a great Rioja, I think it is about $22 a bottle at least here in NYC - it is worth going a bit over your budget for. There is a Rioja Blanca by Muga that is also delicious for about $15 and another white called naia about $12 a bottle. I am not the biggest fan of el coto that you see lots of places in the spainish wine section of the store.
Don't look for specific wines, just spend some time in the wine country areas (personally I like the Priorat region, but don't limit yourself) and taste the wines. You will be able to try things that are just not available here, and over there you will find the prices much better than here anyway.
Start with Rioja and Ribera del Duero... get familiar with the regular bottlings and the reserves.
Also, do tastings of pure tempranillo and tempranillo blends.
Also, check out the wine and cheese matches. I've found alot of the "traditional" matches with spanish red wines aren't that great. Some excellent matches: Rioja with Chevre, Gorgonzola, Iberico, and Pecorino Stagianato.
Great recent years: 1994, 1995, 2001... 1996 was fair...
That's a great place to start.
re: Chicago Mike
I'd also start with the Ribera (my favorite) and Rioja red wines. Try the lively whites from Galicia -- albarino is one and great with seafood. A very lovely white, similar to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, is verdejo. Try the rosados also, found everywhere. The garnachas/grenache are easy drinking reds. For concentrated reds, I'd turn to Priorato. La Mancha is just being recognized as a wine region as are Bierzo and Extremadura.
In terms of sherry, I love palo cortado, with its incredible smell of black walnuts -- Sibarita is one of the best, made by Pedro Domecq. The dessert PX sherry is sinfully delicious.
Where in Spain will you be? In Spain, you can get fantastic wines for under $20 reatail and the restaurants dont have the rediculous mark up like here in the states. If you are in Madrid, there is a chain of wine bars. I don't remember the name, but one is in Plaza Santa Ana and one in Chueca. Great selection of wines by the glass, good tapas and a great staff. If you are in Valencia, there is a fantastic wine shop up a block or two from the main train station.There are several restaurants that take their wine very seriously there too. Good wine is everywhere and it is inexpensive. I prefer Tempranillo based wines. Just taste and see what you like. You shouldn't have to spend too much.
BTW, Look for Mauro. I've had a few vintages that were stunnig and not too expensive. Dont spend the extra $ for a reserva or grand reserva. I haven't found it here, but when in Spain, I hunt it down.