I'm not sure it's all based solely (or even mainly) on price. The reason Mâcon-Villages (for example) became popular in the US was because it was an inexpensive substitute for Pouilly-Fuissé; the reason Lirac became popular is that it was an inexpensive substitute for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. One can even say that the reason Chilean Cabernet became popular in the US was that it was a less expensive substitute to California Cabernet . . .
Spain is, in at least one way, like Italy was in the late-1970s/early-1980s. Long known as a source of cheap wine (and some outstanding expensive ones), Italy burst forth with the 1982 Tuscan vintage and had Americans sit up and change their entire attitude! No longer was it, "Hey, this is pretty good wine . . . for an Italian"; it became, "This is a damned good wine," period!
Spain has -- for most Americans -- long been the home of wines like Yago Sangria, Freixenet ("the black bottle bubbly") and other CAVAs, and Harvey's Bristol Cream (which doesn't even sound Spanish!). And certainly for people are are "into" wine, there are names (and wines) like Vega Sicilia, R. Lopez de Heredia, La Rioja Alta, and even relative newcomers like Pesquera and Alvaro Palacios. But for most people, it's cheap -- sorry, inexpensive -- plonk like "Wrongo Dongo" that creates a sensation for $5.99, or Borsao, or more recently, Martin Codax . . . .
But Spain -- as you (and many other "regulars" on this wine board) already know -- is filled with wines and grapes the average wine drinker has not only yet to explore, they've never even heard of. And -- like Italy with the 1982 vintage -- the wines are better than ever (IMHO), and poised to explode upon the world market in ways they never have outside of Spanish-speaking countries.
This is, of course, a double-edged sword. It's great on the one hand, and on the other, I fear some of my favorite wines will again increase in price . . . . ;^)
At the risk of a price increase, care to share one of your favorites...and hopefully available at K&L or Beltramos? Finally looking to expand my repertoire beyond California wines. Enjoyed a nice tempranillo ('09 Castrillo de Duero, Castilla y León**) recently but can't seem to locate nearby.
Always enjoy reading and learning from your posts...thanks Zin.
**missing winery name? taken from menu.
Well, K&L has the 2009 Alfredo Maestro Castrillo del Duero . . . maybe that's it?
As for Spanish wines in general, keep in mind that Spain is the world's 3rd largest wine producer -- behind France and Italy, and ahead of the US -- so there are certainly lots of options out there. Much depends upon what your budget allows, for there are Spanish wines out there in literally every price range, from under $10 to more than $300 . . .
On the white side of things, I'm in love with a white you can't get here in the US -- at least not at the moment (I keep hammering the importer to bring some in). That's the Predicador Blanco from Viñas Benjamin Romeo in the Rioja. My favorite, albeit pricey, Rioja white is the Viña Tondonia from R. Lopez de Heredia. There are any number of really Albariños out there, from the inexpensive and affordable (say $12-20), to those rare, complex, and seriously stunning examples that are 2x-3x that much! But my "go to" white of late is Txakolina -- a light, slightly effervescent low-alcohol white that is crisp, dry, and refreshing. There are a number of different Txakoli available at the moment in the, say, $15-20 range.
Also available is Txakoli Rosé, but I'm not as enamored of that. I'd rather have a Rioja Rosado from a producer like Muga in the Rioja, or any number of Spanish rosés produced from Garnacha (Grenache).
On the red side of things, for a moderately priced Rioja (approx. $30), look for the Predicador Tinto from the aforementioned Benjamin Romeo. This is produced in the more "modern" style. The regular Crianza and Reserva from Bodegas LAN in the Rioja are quite tasty and very affordable! And it's still possible to pick up wines like the 2001 La Rioja Alta Reserva Especial for $35-40.
Alvaro Palacios -- THE name in Priorat -- now has a low-end bottling, "Camins del Priorat," available for under $20. His "Les Terrasses," however, remains a classic, and is <$40. (Of course, his legendary L'Ermita is $300+, so . . . .
Surrounding Priorat is the appellation of Montsant. Producers like Can Blau and Capcanes have several different bottlings ranging in price from <$10 to $40+.
I can go on and on, but . . . .
Thank you for the detailed reply Zin. Paid a visit to K&L over the weekend and picked up the last bottle of Alfredo Maestro Tinto Castrilla De Duero ($30) which may be what I had tasted in the restaurant. Also picked up a 2001 La Rioja Alta Reserva Especial, Vina Ardanza. Look forward to trying these soon and will branch out to Granachas & Priorats.
Also, DH & I recently started participating in K&L's tastings and have thoroughly enjoyed learning from them. We did a tasting of 13 or so wines from Burgundy on Saturday and DH & I settled on the very inexpensive Chateau de la Charriere Hautes Cotes de Beaune Rouge. The tongue likes what it likes! This was our first foray into wines from this region and were surprised at how elegant inexpensive wines could be. Hope to make the upcoming Rioja & Bordeaux tastings!!