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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!

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  1. 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.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hungrylikethewolf

      Coto de Imaz--in Spain it's about half that price (8 euros) by the bottle for the reserva. Around 14-15 euros for the gran reserva. It's often on sale for even less.

      1. re: butterfly

        Sorry--put this in the wrong place!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1 Reply
        1. 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.

        2. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. We've always found any of the Martin Codaxes excellent & very reasonable.

              1. Don't miss a Monastrell (or blend) from the Jumilla region.

                6 Replies
                1. re: danna

                  Definitely. I just started trying wines from this region. I'm really enjoying the 2004 Altos de Luzon from Finca Luzon, this is predominantly Monastrell with some Cab and Tempranillo.

                  Generally there's a lot of good reasonably priced wine to be had from Spain. I've had a lot of luck with Garnacha (Grenache) based wines from Priorat and Monsant.

                  Just find a good wine store with helpful sales people and go crazy. There's a lot to enjoy.

                  1. re: danna

                    Actually Monastrell is a grape also known as Mourvedre. It is one of the grapes of The Rhone.

                    1. re: Wineman

                      Actully Mourverde (Monastrell) is from the spanish levante coast and not from france as popular belief. In France it is grown mainly in provence or very southern rhone.

                      Great wines from Jumilla
                      Altos de Luzon
                      El Nido
                      Juan Gil
                      Pie Franco
                      Castillo Luzon
                      Casa de la Ermita

                    2. re: danna

                      Juan Gil makes a great wine in this arena.

                      1. re: danna

                        If you're near a Trader Joe's they have a pretty decent Monastrell called Santonegro for $4.99/bottle.

                        1. re: danna

                          Or from Yecla - such as the offerings from Castano.

                          I find monastrells generally more to my taste than temperanillo based wines. But they are harder to find.


                        2. thanks so much for all of the wonderful information!

                          1. http://www.spanishtable.com/wineclubp...

                            Thats a link to the spanish table's wine club page. Whether you belong to the club or not, there is a wealth of information about spanish wines on the site. The newletters go back to 2005 and you will learn everything you need and more. I know they do ship the wines out. I belong to both the valor (value) and privada (nice bottles) clubs, and the selections are always interesting and tasty. Over a year and 30 plus bottles only had one bad one (an oxidized 1982... but the place is an awesome resource for spanish wines, which imho are the best bang for the buck out there right now in terms of variety quality and value.

                            1. If I were in Spain, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to try fresh authentic Sherry (true Sherry must be from Spain). My friends who have lived in Spain insist that imported Sherry is not as good as the Sherry they had in Spain. Apparently, "freshness" is very important for Sherry and shipping/storage can damage this kind of wine.

                              Start with pale, dry Sherries like Fino/Manzanilla (you'll see it offered at tapas restaurants) and sample some darker ones (Amontillado and Oloroso) as "dessert wines."


                              Also, Spain is also famous for its sparkling wine called "Cava." Cava is made from different grapes than the ones traditionally used in France and California, so you might find the differences interesting. In California, I think imported Cava offers great bang for the buck. In Spain, I'd be stoked.


                              For still reds/whites, I think the other posts offer great advice.

                              1. When we were in Spain, we had the opportunity to try the wines of the regions that we visited. We were surprised by the wines from Toro - some were very inexpensive and quite nice. While visiting a cellar in the Rioja region, we sampled great Riojas and they brought out a wonderful bottle of albarino (I think from the Galicia region), which was nice and crisp. Of course the wines from Ribero del Duero and Priorat have great reputations. Just have fun experimenting - you will no doubt find some favorites - Spain has so much to offer!

                                1. Go to wine bars. You can try wines by the glass or bottles nearly at the same as retail. This is the best way to try wine in Spain. If youa re in Madrid, I can recommend quite a few spots on the Spain board, if you like.

                                  1. First of all do not by wine from the super market unless it is Corte Ingles buy from good wine shops. I would not recommed Coto de imaz as this is a mass produced rioja and is not great at all(money, quality). I would recommed depending on where you are staying, going to a wine bar/restaurant there you can try wines by the glass and get information on the wines. they also usual serve non commercial wines and you will find little gems and the true wine from the spanish D.O. If you can tell me were in Spain I might be able to recommed a wine bar. Best of tasting luck:::

                                    1. There are some really nice old vine Garnachas being made in Spain too. I really like Las Rocas, which I can buy where I live, but I'm sure you get a much better selection at the source.

                                      1. The blogosphere has a great resource for you, Catavino (http://www.catavino.net/). They're US folks living in Spain and they've helped me enormously as I' ve tried to learn more about the wines. Plus, they're talking about the wines you'll be able to get in Spanish stores. Highly recommend them!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Dr. Debs

                                          Thanks for the mention Debs! Nutella where are you studying? If your interested feel free to contact us through you site and we can give you some site specific recommendations. In general, try anything you don't recognize! The is the best and most fun way to discovver new wines, in my opinion. Also feel free to join in our virtual tastings since your here anyways, any tasting for you is Iberian! Cheers,

                                        2. You didn't mention where you were at in Spain but if you get the chance, visit Andalusia, especially the Sherry triangle (Jerez, San Lucar and El Puerto de Santa Maria). I would especially recommend the Bodegas of Gonzales Byass and Lustau.

                                          Put aside all preconceived notions of what Sherry is. It's not little old ladies in white gloves sipping sickeningly sweet syrupy dregs from the grocery store.

                                          You will be in for an epiphany!