The first of a series of geographical collections of tasting notes – 186 in this case. For the other articles in this series, see our guide to spring collections.
Spanish wine is on such a roll at the moment, as many of these tasting notes attest. The beautiful picture on the right of the Huecha Valley in Aragón, north-east Spain, is from the Consejo Regulador of the Campo de Borja DO.
The 188 tasting notes below are grouped by colour and are in alphabetical order by producer (sur)name.
Pale-medium gold. Lemon rind and a touch of thyme, with some chalky mineral tones. Ripe lemon palate fruit, some chalky phenolic texture and flint mineral. Nice character. Fair length too. Attractive. (TJ)13.5%
Albillo Mayor, barrel-fermented very slowly and aged around 33 months in old barrels.
Stunning aroma: smokily reductive, fumy and herbal. Very high acidity, dry chalky texture and both finesse and intensity. There's plenty of fruit but it’s not about the fruit. Stunning herbal intensity and freshness with plenty of struck match on the finish, not overdone though. (JH)
Albariño from Salnes. Stainless steel.
Pale lemon. Nutty lees tones, with peach scent to ripe apple. Vibrant acidity, lemon, yellow apple and a creamy touch. Classic Albariño with decent depth. Eminently drinkable. (TJ)
Super-inviting nose: creamy and zesty at the same time. Very pure, tight, rich citrus, full of fruit but also with a stony character that is all bound up in the rich lees texture. Deep, chewy and mouth-watering. Terrific wine and I imagine it will age very well. (JH)13%
Fermented in concrete.
Slightly wild grassy/herbal nose. Dry but surprisingly creamy and rounded in the mouth, even with this producer's hallmark freshness. Lively sour-citrus flavours and notable intensity and persistence. (JH)
Xarello, Macabeo and Chardonnay. Unoaked but made to age. Limestone soils dominate, vines at 400 m.
Wild, herbal tangy aroma but also creamy citrus and green fruits. Complex, zesty and sour-fresh on the palate, with a firm grip and clearly does have potential to age. Fresh and salty on the finish with a note of orange pith. (JH)
90% Xarello, 10% Riesling at 400 m on predominantly limestone soils.
Tangy aroma of pear and apple fruit and a touch of spice. Grippy texture as if there had been some skin contact. Bone dry with an attractive chalky finish. Lots of pear fruit and pear grain on the finish. (JH)
Certified organic. Estate grown and bottled.
Tropical fruit, juicy and forward with bright freshness, but simple and quite short. (TC)
Certified organic. Three months in French oak barrels.
Strong golden colour and so buttery on the nose that it reminds me of the smell when you cream butter and sugar for cake. But bone dry on the palate, and the fruit is a little suppressed by the winemaking. Finishes a bit hard and short. (TC)
Smells like warm baked apples and golden pastry on cold slate. And in the mouth, you taste marmalade on the tip of your tongue and then the cold slate – cold, wet stones with the hungry tang of concrete dust. Stunningly structured, and something that you only noticed halfway through, but where it starts with richness and buttery mille-feuille and spicy baked pears, the finish is all stern structure: steel girders, white pepper in sheet glass, long strong lines to a confident, aloof finish. You could drink this now for the sheer frisson of coming up against that skyscraper configuration, but it has a long life ahead of it. (TC)14%
100% Garnatxa Blanca. Eight months in oak.
Honeyed, toasty, smoky nose. The kind of wine you get lost in without even tasting. A glorious symphony of smoky rich fruit and shimmering acidity. Tastes of grilled oranges and grapefruit, candied peel, Yuzu and pecans in honey. And yet, despite all this golden orange glow on the mid palate there is an incredible minerality, and that really is the only word I can think of to describe it. It's a tension that has the cold lines of marble, the fineness of a thousand harp strings, and tastes of brushed steel and slate dust and gunpowder. It's a wine that you hold in your mouth and don't want to swallow. (TC)
70% Garnatxa Blanca, 30% Viognier. Four months in oak,
Smells of sea shells, chalk dust and lilies. Round, reverberating, rich – incredibly intense. Wild honey, chamomile cream and the headiness of frangipani blossom yet there is this piercing mineral spine that spikes a horizontal line from end to end, a bone-deep freshness and structure that seems to come from stone rather than acidity. (TC)
An easy glass of liquid Golden Delicious apples and Sweet Williams pears with a tropical bent. Fun, exuberant, restrained by a bit of sage-leaf green toward the end. Perfect wine for celeriac remoulade and citrusy fish. (TC)13%
Rodrigo Méndez is the man behind the small Galician estate Forjas del Salnés, who has made it his goal to restore ancient vines and vineyards and bring a bit of history back to life. Leirana is 100% Albariño from vines planted 1952 to 1982 on sandy granite soil at 5 m (16 ft) elevation. Natural vinification with wild yeast that lasts 20 days, no malo, and fermented parcel by parcel in a small stainless-steel tanks with minimal temperature control. Maturation on lees in 20% old foudres, 80% stainless steel for several months.
I've seen some of these vines and in winter the spray of the sea lashes their trunks. It's a wine that tastes of the sea. Salt-etched Meyer lemons, citrus fragrance precision-carved into stone, bone dry yet tasting of marmalade. It's a wine that drives so hard and so fiercely that it's knuckle white with tension and yet... underneath, so quiet that you have to stop and listen for it, there is a soft heart, a meltingness of apricot. (TC)
A blend of Hondarrabi Zuri with a little bit of Hondarrabi Beltza (red) and Chardonnay. Cool-fermented in tank and a year on the lees.
Creamy/spicy lees effect with tangy sour-citrus lemon and grapefruit. Very crisp and deliciously fresh. Mouth-watering but with the lees richness to balance the very taut acidity. (JH)
Sustainably farmed vineyards, no herbicides or systemic products. Hand-harvested. Skin maceration for nine hours at 8 °C. Alcoholic fermentation for 21 days, ageing on fine lees for nine months. Spends five months after that in stainless steel.
Late-summer hay, saffron and Earl Grey tea, lemon rind, complex, creamy, almost fino-like in its salty, angles-and-cream, vigorous-yet-aged unpin-down-ability. As delicious, savoury and mouth-watering as fino but without the alcohol. Intensely savoury and with whippet-wired structure. Intellectual wine. As it warms up, a sense of apricot syrup, rich blood oranges and clotted cream opening wide across the palate. Absolutely gorgeous. Incredible depth of flavour for Albariño at six years old and all packed into pretty low alcohol. (TC)
Honeysuckle and lychee juice, almost as if, on first sniff, it was a sweet wine. Round, generous apricot sweetness shot through with bright, scalpel-thin acidity. And then sweet green herbs and earthy spice (coriander seed?). A touch of petrichor. Beautiful carved-stone structure. (TC)12.5%
Clear glass bottle. Visible petillance in the bottle and glass. Smells prettily of white peaches and apples. A bright, clean, sprightly wine packed with fresh summer stone fruit. Simple but oh-so-pretty. This is never going to move mountains or philosophers but absolutely smashing for a refreshing drink on a thirsty day. Probably GV. (TC)12.5%
Quite spicy on the nose. And quite spicy on the palate! Szechuan-pepper heat, even, with a deep citric tang. Jaw-clenched minerality, peach inlaid with granite. Salty, again, but with a more delicate slice of apricot sweetness and sharpness. Exciting, but needs thoughtful drinking and food matching. (TC)13%
Ripe peaches, broad and confident out the glass. Notable bitterness and texture, really salty and intense, and remarkable power and current on the palate for just 12.5%. Tastes as if someone has ground dried apricots, tarragon, Himalayan rock salt, white pepper, quartz and grapefruit rind into a powder and soaked it in rainwater. A wine you taste in your bones. Reverberates in your bones. Sappy saline finish. (TC)12.5%
Albillo Real (lower-acid Albillo), fermented in big barrels and foudres. A variety with naturally high alcohol and glycerol.
Highly aromatic, pears and floral notes. Broad and spicy on the palate, completely different from the Albillo Mayor just tasted (Dominio del Águila 2015). Broad and lightly tannic, with more freshness from the pear-like grain than from the acidity. Salty aftertaste. (JH)
100-year-old Godello, one year in barrel. Only 800 bottles.
Tangy aroma of green fruits and very ripe citrus. Rich but beautifully fresh in the mouth, creamy texture and zesty fruit in harmony. Long and deep with a spicy oak aftertaste but it is not dominant. I increased my score when I found the taste just stayed in my mouth for so long. (JH)
70% Viura, 30% Malvasía. Stainless steel.
Very pale gold. Putty and stony breadth to straightforward apple. Fairly brisk acidity, but pretty simple stuff. Moderate length. (TJ)
Mostly tank fermented but part in old 500-litre barrels.
An unexpected creamy aroma, with a smoky/mineral touch, in addition to tangy but intense fruit flavour – citrus and just-ripe apricot. Really tangy yet rich in fruit. Long too. (JH)
Single vineyard Albariño, fermented in old chestnut 800-litre cask.
Smoky and spicy on the nose. Some smoky reduction. Terrific intensity and high acidity but all in balance even though it is mouth-wateringly crisp. Great tension in the heart of lovely fruit – herbal notes and ripest of citrus flavour. (JH)
Single vineyard. Fermented in an old 2,000-litre wooden vat.
Creamy and a little riper on the nose compared with the straight Albariño 2017. Spicy pear fruit with orange zest and a lovely pithy texture. Great intensity and length. (JH)
120- to 140-year-old, pre-phylloxera Verdejo from plots in seven villages. Wild-yeast fermentation, with maturation in foudres and 228-litre barrels, with a small proportion new. No MLF.
Pale-medium gold. Apple crumble and ripe gooseberry with some tropical-fruit tones. Vibrant acidity supports the full body, with toasty oak spice well integrated into the cooked gooseberry and tropical fruit. Fruit sweetness only, as this is fully dry with some stony mineral character and a saline touch. Long. (TJ)
180-year-old, pre-phylloxera Verdejo from a single, low-yielding vineyard. Wild-yeast fermentation, with maturation in 70% new 228-litre barrels. No MLF. Bottle maturation is important for this wine especially, so they release relatively late.
Mid lemon-gold. Overt, toasty cinnamon spice, with some stony, rocky mineral character. Stone fruit and some dried herb beneath, but the oak is prominent right now. Ripe, rich palate of white peach, then savoury spice, salt, cinnamon and vanilla. Undoubted depth here, with a long finish too. Needs time to express itself fully. (TJ)
180-year-old, pre-phylloxera Verdejo from a single, low-yielding vineyard. Wild-yeast fermentation, with maturation in 70% new 228-litre barrels. No MLF. Bottle maturation is important for this wine especially, so they release relatively late.
Pale-medium lemon. Lemon, white peach and subtle vanilla, with integral oak spice and almond nut. Fairly full-bodied, with lees richness and a fine line of acidity that cuts through the palate weight. Slightly warming, but with a long, creamy finish. (TJ)
Organically farmed Xarello (85%) and Sauvignon Blanc (15%) grown high up, 'Close to the sky, on the top of the highest Penedès mountains', according to the producer's website. Four hours on skins, fermented in tank at 16 ºC and then on lees, with stirring, for three months.
Quite smoky to start with and this blows off to reveal intense white peach and just a slight herbal citrus note. Very tight and almost lean on the palate though there is plenty of fruit, its just extremely taut, crisp and zesty. Bone dry with a light dry grip on the finish. Piercing freshness rather than great persistence. (JH)
Organic wine and biodynamic farming. Old vines. After a light maceration of four hours, the grapes were lightly pressed, and then fermented in new and 2nd-year French (Allier) and Hungarian barrels for 18 days at an average temperature of 17 ªC. After the fermentation, the ageing was continued in the same barrels for four months over the lees with regular lees stirring.
Horribly heavy bottle. Easy to remove wax seal. Unexpectedly deep gold. Smells spicy and honeyed and much more mature than the vintage suggests. Made in a pretty oxidative style – deliberately, I assume – and has rather nice sour apricot flavours and plenty of freshness with some baked apple as well as some cedary notes from the oak. Flavourful but disappears rather quickly on the finish. Not sure what the intention is with this wine, or whether it just needs to be drunk sooner rather than later, but I'm enjoying its full spicy flavour now. (JH)
Organic wine, biodynamic farming, no addes sulphites. Fermented in amphorae which were especially made with clay from their estates, using ambient yeasts. 3,678 bottles produced.
Mid gold. Smells rich, golden and spicy but on the palate there's a really strong, smoky lapsang taste, very broad but still fresh and salty. Very distinctive style that is more about flavour than finesse. An interesting experiment but I am not sure how it will age, especially without added sulphites. It's just on the right side of oxidative, with a slightly sweaty aftertaste. I am sure it will appeal to naturalistas. I am not entirely convinced but good for them for experimenting. (JH)
Made specially for this London restaurant. From Salnes, right next to the Atlantic on granite. Light green harvest to reduce the yield by half. 1,000 plants/ha. 50-year-old pergola. His first vintage was 2002. He had a big problem with the Consejo over oak. There are problems here because of the high malic acid. Post-MLF the total acidity is so low that people add acid! He decided in 2005 to blend the wine that had undergone MLF with some that had not undergone MLF, but this was not a solution. Barrels used for maturation are from 2000 and 2001. Doesn’t add yeast.
Pale straw. Good fruit concentration on the nose. Dense yet fresh with structure. Lightly salty.
Quite a chewy end.
100% Doña Blanca. People didn’t like early vintages of this wine (first vintage in 2011). Raúl loves the 2011 now. 50% fermented and aged in 500-litre casks and 50% in 2,000-litre casks. No racking. No SO2. No bâtonnage.
Deep straw. Really rather glorious! Mild honeycomb and lanolin. Masses of acidity and body. Great stuff! Long, racy – massive impact.
Albilla de Manchuela/Albillo de Albacete. Seven small vineyards on different soils. No malo. 10 months on lees in foudre and older barrels.
Complex aromas of creamy lees, sour citrus and green fruits. Intense and very salty on the palate with lovely ripe fruit but no fruit sweetness. So salty and fresh. So complex already and rich in the mouth. (JH)
Steely, freshly citric fruit. Pleasant creaminess on the palate, thanks to lees ageing, which leaves a very charming dairy richness to the finish. Moderate acidity, soft and fleshy on the palate with the relatively high alcohol leaving warmth on the finish. The lingering fruit has a ripeness that veers towards tropicality. Dry, fairly simple length. (RH)
50% Viognier, 50% Chardonnay.
Smells like hard candy and stale cake. Slightly herbaceously bitter along with a bonbon sweetness and the two don't like each other. I'm not sure I see the point of this. (TC)
Equal parts Palomino, Albariño and Treixadura. All in tank.
Wild herbal nose that seems slightly smokily reductive. Really tangy, bone dry, almost sour on the palate, with all that smokiness and dried herbs on the finish. Crisp, clean, a little austere/sour but harmonious. (JH)
From higher sites (500 m approx) on gneiss and weathered slate in the south of the appellation. Tank sample but fully finished (unfiltered). 36 hours on skins and aged in foudres and older barrels.
More spice on the nose than the Neno 2017 from the same producer – more oak influence? Though not oaky. Ripe pears and stone fruit. Rich, creamy and broad on the palate with a fine line of freshness to a long finish. Intense, chewy and long. (JH)
Limestone soils, single vineyard in the north of the appellation. 24 hours on skins and aged in two 500-litre older barrels.
That dusty aroma on the nose that seems so typical of limestone soils. Smoky, dusty minerality to the fore and with that, pure, tangy, spicy citrus, lots of tension and energy and a long salty fresh finish. A long life ahead. (JH)
A ‘regional’ blend, of fruit from different sites. Tank sample but fully finished (unfiltered). 12–24 hours on skins.
Ripe and creamy stone fruit on the nose. Rich and deep leesy texture, like pear grain. Generous and still very fresh. Salty aftertaste. (JH)
Fragrant, like gently poached peaches with elderflowers and tarragon. Creamy on the palate, full yet fine. A really beautiful white wine! Fills the mouth and tingles. Nutty in an almost marzipan-like way, delicately etched with lime. Fabulous. (TC)13%
West-facing volcanic vineyards. Mostly Listán Blanco plus local varieties. Fermented and aged in foudres and big barrels.
That wonderfully inviting smoky volcanic aroma. Fumy wild herbs – an aroma that reminds me of spontaneously fermented Riesling. Wonderfully dry and tangy and crisp, with a firm, dry texture balancing the acidity. Wild, smoky and long. Delicious, complex, with ripe, rich sour-citrus fruit coming back on the finish. GV (JH)
90% Listán Blanco (aka Palamino) and 10% Albillo on volcanic soils. Made in stainless-steel tanks, 15% in new French and American oak barrels. The vineyard is run by Agustín García Farrais, who trained in Bordeaux and who is still assisted by his parents. His grandfather started the bodega and the oldest vines on his 3-ha estate were planted in 1914.
Masses of tiny white flowers on the nose. Dry and almost sandy on the palate, baked pineapple and tarragon and just a little smoky. Some nuttiness in both the smooth, very slightly oily texture and in the flavour. Fresh cobnuts. Gentle finish. Perfect wine for delicate white fish or seafood. Buon Vino has reduced this to £11.95 at the moment, GV if you can get in there while stocks last. (TC)
90% Pedro Ximénes, 10% Muscat of Alexandria. Fermented and aged 16 months in concrete. Cuques means 'fireflies'.
Seriously complex aroma even with no oak influence. Smoked grapefruit. Chewy fresh texture, and overall an intense mineral character in that dry smokiness. Tangy, herbal, mouth-watering finish but the freshness is more texture than acidity. (JH)
Their new négoce label. 75% Grenache Blanc, 25% Macabeo. Fermented and aged in concrete.
A real smokiness here that I suspect is more terroir than reduction. Bone-dry texture, chalky and fresh, some stone fruit but it’s as much about texture as fruit flavour. Slight and attractive grip. (JH)
In a blue, Alsace-flute bottle, which seems strange for a Spanish Chardonnay blend. The Macabeo comes through more strongly on the nose than the Chardonnay. Hard fruit candy notes on the nose and palate. A bit thin, but fresh enough. (TC)13%
Vinicola de Tomelloso, El Viñedo de la Vida Sauvignon Blanc/Verdejo 2018 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
In a clear-glass bottle. Smells of fruit sweeties with a green streak, although it's a little more herbal on the palate. Tarragon and grapefruit pastilles. Straightforward, dry enough and pleasant enough for what I assume (hope) is a very cheap wine. (TC)
Certified organic, from a vineyard 750 m above sea level.
In a clear-glass bottle. That sort of sweetheart-cabbage smell that Viura often has, with a bit of white pepper when it gets to the palate. Plenty of acidity giving freshness, but with enough soft fruit in the middle to keep it from being too sour. Not a page-turner, but it does its job. (TC)
Crisp and slightly vegetal, like an unripe melon, with acidity that turns a little sour on the finish. Tastes as if it was picked very early. (TC)12%
100% Verdejo on infertile sandy soils. Six hours of maceration and fermentation in French oak barrels.
Deep gold. An aromatic extrovert, honey and acacia blossom and apricots. It's so rich on the nose it smells like a sweet wine. Verdejo sharpness on the palate, but the honeyed richness remains, albeit subdued to fit into the framework of acidity. Tarragon herbaceousness and apricots on the cusp of ripeness. Good substance on the mid palate and just a tiny bit dilute on the finish. But certainly more interesting than most Verdejo. A good food wine. (TC)
100% Merseguera. Stainless-steel, low-temperature fermentation with selected yeasts.
Pretty neutral on the nose and muted on the palate. Light pear and boiled green veg. Innocuous, but I don't quite get the point. (TC)
All in tank.
Tangy green-apple fruit. Zesty apple and melon. Straightforward and lovely freshness. (JH)
Aged in a mix of flextank and 500-litre barrels.
Lighty spiced pear and stone fruit. Creamy, dry and finely textured. Chewy finish. (JH)
Nettles and oranges on the nose. Rounded but with sharp gooseberry-green angles. Classic Verdejo with a neatly tucked-in finish. (TC)
Organic blend of old-vine Tempranillo and Albillo. Fermented in barrel. Clarete is a traditional style of Ribera but rarely seen now.
Pretty pale pink. Spicy, aromatic red fruit but there's stone fruit too, and pears. Firm, lightly tannic with some oak sweetness. Intense, deep and fresh, and very long. A very serious rosé that would be great at the table with its definite structure and creamy aftertaste. (JH)
Bright fuschia pink. Strawberry candy. Confected strawberry juice. Simple and would have to be drunk very cold with a giant pile of sweet-paprika and garlic prawns. (TC)
50% Tempranillo, 50% Merlot. Planted 813 m above sea level. Fermented in barrel and three months in French oak.
Dark, deep cherry red. Smells perfumed, hibiscus. Not dry, but full of generous, creamy, cherry-jam fruit. Juicy and bold and great with big-flavoured food. (TC)
Semi-dry, joven, on the back label.
I wish I could deduct points for the horrid plastic cork and clear-glass bottle. Strong, deep, wild-salmon pink. Smells just like strawberry jelly/Jell-O. And it certainly is semi-dry. Tastes like a bowl of strawberry jelly... all you need is custard. Very simple, but it has a bit of spirit and freshness in its favour, and thank the wine gods they've not gone down the road of sacrificing every molecule of flavour for a colourless, tasteless Provence tribute act. This is one rosé that I would suggest is kept for the beach to have with a hunk of watermelon. (TC)
100% Tinta de Toro. Young vines in soils with light clay. Light, cold maceration on skins at 5 ºC, partial bleeding of the must, controlled alcoholic fermentation at 14 ºC, two months on fine lees with occasional bâtonnage. Horrible environmentally unfriendly and corkscrew-unfriendly pink plastic cork.
A cherry-red rosé with full-on watermelon-candy and strawberry-coulis aromas. Juicy, exuberant, and certainly with a bit of residual sugar. Not exactly genteel but I love the rustic honesty and the get-it-all-out-there attitude. Plus the Tinta de Toro is throwing a light cape of wild thyme and fingertip tannins, so it's not a facile wine. Could be great with pulled pork and barbeque sauce in a bun! (TC)
Deep fuchsia pink and in a heavy, clear-glass, odd, long-amphora-shaped bottle. Juicy red berries on the nose and palate, plenty of strawberry-candy sweetness and glacé cherries with that little note of almonds on the finish. Unsubtle but great fun and with mouth-watering freshness. (TC)
Village wine from Cadalso de los Vidros in the Sierra de Gredos. 85- to 95-year-old vines, 95% Garnacha with interplanted Cariñena on white granite and gneiss, at 800–900 m elevation. Whole-bunch fermentation. 12 months in large French oak.
Pale ruby. Some funky breadth to rose and violet floral notes, some blackberry fruit and herbal tones. Crisp acidity and quite lean, with stony mineral character and some firmness of tannins dominating the palate. Tight, with fair length. (TJ)
Village wine from Cenicientos in the Sierra de Gredos. 65- to 100-year-old vines, 95% Garnacha with interplanted Garnacha Blanca on white and a little pink granite, at up to 1,010 m elevation. Whole-bunch fermentation. 13 months in large French oak.
Very pale ruby. Slightly jammy but floral strawberry, with some herbal stemmy lift. Very aromatic. On the palate, more stem tones, with fresh leather, stony complexity and brisk acidity. Nicely structured with moderate, but grainy tannins. Still young. QGV (TJ)
Single plot from San Martín de Valdeiglesias, labelled ‘Dances with wind’ as the site is so windy. 100% Garnacha on pink granite. Whole-bunch fermentation. 14 months in French oak.
Very pale ruby. Smoky and flinty, with a touch of funk. Stemmy herb tones and a touch of nut, with subtly aromatic red-cherry fruit. Very elegant. Lean and minerally palate, with chewy, peppery tannins and brisk acidity. Quite hard work right now, and palate not as expressive as the aromatics. Young and really long though. (TJ)
100% Tempranillo from 60- to 80-year-old vines. 18 months in French and American oak.
Mid-deep ruby-purple. Minty oak lift with torrefied caramel and coconut. Orange peel and ripe red fruit. Density of red- and black-cherry palate fruit is just enough to balance the compact, firm tannins. Warming finish, but polished, with plenty of vanilla length. (TJ)
100% Tempranillo from 80- to 100-year-old vines. 20 months in new French oak.
Mid-deep ruby-purple. Clove, cordite and cinnamon oak, with again a touch of orange peel. Ripe blackberry and black-cherry fruit beneath the oak cloak. Robust, dense, compact tannins of a classic, modern-style Ribera, but there is the fruit weight to match it. A vin de garde – if nothing else, to let the oak integrate! (TJ)
Deep garnet, with a touch of brick. Black tea and truffle maturity, but still with plenty of chocolate and cinnamon oak, over dried-cherry fruit. Resolving, firm tannins that are taking on a velvet texture. Spicy and long finish with dried tobacco and chocolate. Very interesting to compare with the 2016. (TJ)14.5%
Mostly Tempranillo. 33 months in French and American oak. Soils are sand and limestone with not much topsoil.
Very different aroma from the same producer’s Reserva 2014, more herbaceous and wild though still with smoky dark fruit. A complete baby, all tongue-tied and all texture at the moment: chalky, dense and yet fresh. Should become really elegant but don't go near it for at least five years. (JH)
Mostly Tempranillo. 33 months in French and American oak. Soils are clay, sand and limestone.
Deep crimson. Dark and smoky, really dark fruit. Still very chewy. Although the tannins are still compact and need more time, they are refined in texture. Needs more time to let the fruit escape the tannin framework. (JH)
Tempranillo with around 5% other local varieties. Fermented in tank and concrete and aged in older French barrels.
Deep cherry red. Spicy, rocky, almost savoury dark-red fruit. Dry, chewy texture, the chalky tannins as much as the acidity give freshness. Such finesse in that dry, dark-chocolate-textured finish. (JH)
Two years in French oak.
Woody spice, malt and roast plums on the nose with a very light undertow of animal/gaminess. Refined, mellow tannins melting into warm-spiced fig and damson fruit. There's a really elegant tang and lift through the core bringing freshness and length to the finish. A sense of sap rising through the veins of this wine but the overarching impression is one of beautiful refinement. (TC)
Dark, sweet, gorgeous damson nose. A little balsamic, a little like pomegranate molasses, a little coffee bean – a tight coil of flavour over blackcurrant fruit, a zigzag of acidity through and back again. Dark and darkly fresh, something of freshly turned loamy earth in night air, blueberries and mushrooms. Dry, loamy finish. (TC)14%
Odd combination of meaty and jammy on the nose, but sumptuous and friendly on the palate, chocolate and cherry like a Mon Chéri chocolate. Thick loose-fitting silk-pyjama tannins, and the heat of alcohol giving quite a burn down the back of the throat. Really only 13.5%? But very drinkable, if not massively complex. (TC)13.5%
18 months in French oak.
More meaty on the nose – makes me think of roast duck and cranberry sauce. Vibrant red-fruited tang at the heart, radiating out on broad-shouldered but attractively sculptured tannins. This is fabulous. Fresh, grippy, authentic. Great balance. Pencil lead and finesse and refreshment. (TC)
Smelling of drains and old meat to begin with, but it blew off – needs decanting. So incredibly meaty! Like roast beef with balsamic vinegar. Dramatic and tertiary and quite exciting. Polished-walnut-wood tannins, dry and needing food but lovely polish, and gentle spices. Very good rioja. (TC)13.5%
Smells like stewed apricots and sun-dried tomatoes. Rich and intense, a sense of fruit on the cusp of raisin but still with plenty of energy and lots of acidity. Christmas cake kind of wine, lavender perfume running a lifted, fragrant line. Brambly, steeped-tea-bag-dry tannins kicking in towards the back. And cassia bark. Get a big plate of food. (TC)14%
Very very heavy bottle: 1.98 kg when full of wine. Stewed fruit and leather on the nose and on the palate. Bit of Oxo cube. Hard-pressed, drying tannins and the alcohol feels hotter than 14%. Fruit feels hard flogged. Hot. (TC)14%
Aged in small but older French oak. Then a year in tank, which seems to have added real tension.
Like their Old Vines Garnacha 2017, high acidity making it very very fresh, fragrant with light red fruits, chalky, layered tannins. Made very much in today's idiom of crunchy freshness and yet with depth and body. Very interesting wine and delicious with the oak barely showing. Has the freshness and texture of whole bunch but there is none, apparently, and nothing herbaceous here either. (JH)
12 months in tank and concrete and then eight months in older oak. Vara y Pulgar refers to the pruning method common in Jerez.
Mid crimson. Wild reductive nose. Very unusual. At first I thought it was a little bretty but it may just be a more meaty, savoury variety. Firm and chewy on the palate and still with excellent freshness and opens up to more pure fruit. Distinctive and long. (JH)
Planted 1950s. Unoaked and fermented in tank and concrete.
Deepish cherry red. Surprisingly high acidity for Grenache. Really lively with bags of cherry and cranberry fruit. Compact and rich on the palate. Needs food. Long and zippy. Just noticed the name of the wine – very appropriate. Unusual to have both intensity and freshness combined in this way. (JH)
New modern bodega supplied by an old mountain-vineyard in Rioja Alavesa. Healthy crimson. Quite rich and savoury on the nose. But could do with a bit more freshness and transparency on the palate. Over extracted?14%
Mid crimson. Clean, light nose. Much fresher than its stablemate Ansa. Rather lively and tangy. Very different style and more refreshing. Pretty sandy tannins on the end. Probably needs another year in bottle to settle those down but you could drink it with food now. Just a little pinched on the end at the moment but congratulations to Bodega 202 on making two such different styles.14%
Old-vine Tempranillo grown at 920 m above sea level.
Really rustic with a heavy imprint of oak on the nose and palate. Rough-tweed tannins. But the fruit is full and dark and ripe with some intrinsic spice, so if you've got a good bowl of steaming stew in front of you, it'll all come right. (TC)
Old-vine Tempranillo planted above 920 m.
Bitter-chocolate nose. Thick and dark, grilled blackberry fruit and black plums skins in a severely tannic overlay. Real dramatic flair and a powerful coal-ember burn under that brooding fruit. Heat and drama. Needs food. (TC)
Inky and sweet-purple smelling then massive and inky and tannic on the palate. A real fire-breathing dragon of a wine – you need to take a couple of steps back and mop your brow before going back into the fray. On the dried-fruit spectrum, with a solid oak-barrel framework. (TC)14.5%
An equal blend of Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon. Four months in older oak.
Mid cherry red. Both red and black fruit, lively and juicy with the Cabernet giving a light but fine structure. (JH)
Garnacha, and the name means 'supple'. Sandy soils. Aged in foudres.
Light-to-mid cherry red. Sweet, pure Garnacha red fruit. Creamy and smooth in texture, gentle and perfectly suited to the name of the wine. Perfect current drinking and you could drink this on its own. (JH)
Thin-skinned but tannic variety. Fermented in tank and aged in chestnut barrels, which are apparently more neutral.
Light cherry red. Peppery, lightly smoky/rubbery red fruit. Dry, tight and firmly tannic though the texture is more austere than thick. Juicy and fresh. Seems very youthful and still so fruity. (JH)
A blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 12 months in French oak. Current vintage.
Garnet with soft bricky rim. Complex mature aromas of undergrowth and umami savour. Still has quite chewy tannins but it would be fine with food. Fresh and lingering. (JH)
Bramble fruit, smoked meat, fine tannins and bright acidity with a finish that reminds me a bit of Kombucha – is that brett, perhaps? Delicious anyway, even if a bit wild. (RH)
Less immediately fragrant than their Can do Sil, but still very classic Mencía with light tannins leaving smooth texture and a bit of crispness on the finish. Vivid black fruit, without the precision and youthfulness of their Can do Sil 2017. Meaty finish. (RH)
Garnacha Tintorera and Monastrell. Organic certified.
Rich and dark, caramelised plum skins and damson jam wrapped in a herbal web of tannins. Power and intensity, really packing a punch with great vertical acidity pulling the line. Some heat, some char, bitterness on the finish, dry (but ripe) tannins, all suggesting that you need hearty food on the table when you're drinking this wine. But it has a streak of wildness and you can taste the rugged heat of Spain in every mouthful. This will age well. (TC)
Half the vines are 80–120 years, a blend of many different plots that are fermented separately then aged in 5,000-litre oak. Mostly Mencía plus some field blend.
Deep crimson. Rich in stony dark fruit, fragrant and complex already. Firm, grainy and yet sweet tannins. Creamy texture and long fresh finish. Gentle but persistent. (JH)
Mencía from three vineyards, very old vines, clay and sand, fermented with stems in 5,000-litre oak.
More obvious oak sweetness and spice on the nose here plus fresh and ripe dark fruit and perhaps a hint of liquorice? More savoury on the palate, lightly grainy tannins, firm and generous and long. Needs time. (JH)
Beautifully textured and seductive fruit. Very persistent and juicy.14.5%
Garnacha on granite at 850 m.
Very pale garnet. Especially pale rim. That meaty note that Grenache can have strongly on the nose. Not quite as textured as the 2016 but very fun to drink. Good acidity and fairly soft sweetness. Satisfying dry finish and long.
Sweet black cherry and framboise with bit of malt and pops of bright acidity. Enough tannin for structure, but light enough to keep the wine easy, approachable and picnic-fun. A good quaffer, and hopefully GV. (TC)
Certified organic. Three months in oak.
Berry jam and sinewy, wiry tannins, like a little gymnast. Full of life and energy, and just a little bit of woodland spice. Appetising. (TC)
I can only assume this is a blend of vintages as there is no mention of the vintage anywhere on the front or back label. 'Wonderful blend of the best grapes of our vineyard', it says on the back label. Who knows. Ripe grapes, that's for certain. Tannins a bit astringent, filling the mouth with a powdery dryness. Prunes and dried blueberries and a stalkiness, or high-roast coffee beans. Abrupt end. Lacks the vitality of their simpler and presumably cheaper La Doncella wines. (TC)14%
From Ribeira Sacra, but labelled as Vino de España.
Understated nose, then peppery and piquant on the palate, with ripe red fruit and finely brushed tannic feel. Light and a little lean to finish. (RH)
Heavy bottle. Clove oil, cinnamon lift on the nose, and much more savoury than the Via Edetana 2016. Dried cranberries and cherries, focused and sweet at the core, with a spicy leather framework. Masses of buffed tannins, flexing their muscles but not muscling in on the wine as a whole. A big, powerful wine with a quiet, gentle centre. Wait a bit. (TC)14.5%
60% Garnatxes, 30% Syrah, 10% Carignan. 12 months in oak.
Heavy bottle. Subtle plum-conserve nose with a touch of slate dust. Very pure, striking dark fruit, deep and long and pushing wider and wider across the palate as it amplifies in the mouth. A coil of crackling-dry tobacco leaf and earthy spices wrapping around and through the fruit, tannins pulling softly persistent and gently dry. Warm and generous – my instincts say this would be an unconventional but fabulous match for Christmas ham and turkey with cranberry jelly. (TC)
Aromatic, violets and berries. Absolutely fizzing with purple-berried pzazz and energy, punky, sassy and frank. No pretensions. Just a delicious mouthful of fresh, ripe, sweet fruit clad in a leotard of tannins. (TC)14%
Easy drinking, bright but simple palate. A bit of olive tapenade adds savoury character to the finish. Black cherry fruit. A good quencher. (RH)
Apparently the first 'natural' wine in Priorat. Biodynamic, vegan, no added SO2. Aged in a mix of oak, glass and amphora.
Deep greyish crimson. Smoky, dusty black fruit on the nose. Lovely dry, chalky texture, black fruit, so dry and textured, the texture more prominent than the dark, sober fruit. Smells and tastes so rocky/mineral. Long dry chewy finish. Dry and so elegant and refined with no showiness and a finish of dry, very dark chocolate. (JH)
Organic wine made from biodynamic grapes. No added sulphites. 85% Garnacha, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermented in tank and aged 8 months in new 400-litre French oak.
Very dark, almost black at the core. Intense aroma of ripe black fruits, cassis, blackberry and blueberry. Plus a dark savoury character and a touch of oak spice to offset the initial fruit sweetness. Opening up. On the palate, dense chalky texture, dry but thick tannins – not astringent. Distinctive wine, fresh and moreish, but it's the texture that stands out from the crowd. Needs food if you are going to broach it now. I'm not sure how well it will age with no added sulphites but it will be interesting to taste it in a couple of years. My drinking window is on the cautious side. (JH)
Biodynamic and vegan. The name reflects the fact that they think the wine is very 'round'.
Very dark crimson. Smells a little sweeter and more open than the Sylvestris. Dense and the tannins are thicker but it still has the dark rocky character of the Sylvestris. Seems more oaky in flavour and texture. Dense and rich but nowhere near ready. (JH)
90% Trepat, 10% Grenache, all in tank. Bright label all covered in fruit.
Lightish cherry red. Just as the name suggestes, full of bright cranberry and pomegranate fruit. Light, juicy, more like a deep-fruited rosé. Not long but lots of fun and mouth-watering. (JH)
50% Tinto Velasco, 50% Syrah. Aged in French oak.
Sweet, lavender-soaked prunes and raisins. Almost liqueur-like in its intensity and concentration. Thick, wiry tannins swarming round the fruit and only just containing the heat. Forceful, juniper-berried chewiness and bitterness under a ripe mulberry-syrup sweetness. But there is lift and flair, despite the heat and bulk. Just wear big steel-capped boots when drinking. (TC)
100% old-vine Morate on granite.
Pale colour, more like a dark rosé. Lovely complex nose that is both smoky/dusty crushed rocks and such pretty red fruit. Bone dry and chalky on the palate, the tannins like layers of tissue paper. Mouth-wateringly moreish and delicious. (JH)
Ramón Estev (working with Bodegas Marañones). Old-vine Cariñena at 800 m on granite. 100% stems.
Light cherry red. Smoky reductive aroma entangled with pure red cherry. Matched on the palate with extremely fine-grained tannins. Has the freshness and tannins of the variety but all with delicate intensity. Very long and scented to the finish. (JH)
Seven parcels of Garnacha and one of the local Morate. All old vines at around 800 m on granite in the Gredos Mountains. 100% stems on all their wines.
Light cherry red. Scented and utterly seductive in a charming rather than exotic mode. Smoky, delicate and with quite a grip on the palate, though the tannins are extremely fine with no grain. Scented with sour cherries on the palate. Delicious and persistent. (JH)
Another single-vineyard wine. 50% stems.
Mid cherry red. Inviting smoky, dusty, rocky nose but still with lovely fresh red fruits. Chalky, dry, refined texture, beautifully fresh and subtle but persistent. (JH)
Mencía from seven villages. 40% stems.
Mid crimson. Intense, lifted, almost spicy wild, small-berried fruit. Chalky, dry texture. Gently chewy and finishes with both freshness and fruit sweetness. (JH)
Mid-deep ruby-purple. Needs coaxing from the glass, but there’s plenty of density of rock, rich strawberry and blackberry fruit, liquorice and nutty spice. Compact, firmly structured and dense, with plenty more to give. Lovely core of freshness here. Classy. (TJ)15%
Mid-deep garnet with a touch of haze. Plenty of black-tea and truffle development, with some flinty savouriness. Fresh and bright acidity, then the powerful tannins come through. Powerful extraction and a hot tone to the finish. Decent length of fresh leather and black tea though. (TJ)14.5%
Mainly Cariñena, planted 1939 just after phylloxera.
Mid ruby-purple. Creamy almond oak spice, then crunchy, spicy red-cherry fruit. White pepper and stony tones. Chewy tannins, spicy, firm red fruit and a savoury core. A fine line of acidity gives plenty of freshness. Slightly wild right now, but has plenty of nutty, red-fruited length. (TJ)
Magnum. 50% Garnacha, with the remainder Syrah, Cariñena, and some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Mid garnet. Fresh leather development with more marked clove oak, and some slightly baked character to the fruit. Stony, rocky mineral palate entry, with maturing, drying red fruit and firm, but resolving tannins. Evolving quite slowly – from a magnum though. Long and classy. GV (TJ)
60% Garnacha, with the remainder Syrah, Cariñena, and some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vineyards at the transition between Montsant and Priorat. No clarification as it did not suit this vintage’s density.
Mid-deep purple. Somewhat roasted fruit character, with plenty of black-fruit density and some nutty oak. Rocky tones show through. Rich and full on the palate with smokiness and marked salinity to the dense black fruit. Slightly wild, peppery, firm tannins need time. QGV (TJ)
100% Garnacha on licorella.
Medium ruby with a hint of garnet – surprisingly youthful for over 7 years. Slightly baked and dried strawberry fruit, with notable rocky mineral expression. Intense, spicy, smoky palate, with a sweetness to the fruit, then rocky tones, and still a fair slug of grainy tannin. The alcohol is quite notable though and its length is a little suppressed. (TJ)
100% Tempranillo from 75-year-old vines. 20 months in new French oak. Described as a 'vino de autor'.
Mid-deep garnet. Pronounced clove, vanilla and cocoa-powder oak. Balsamic dried cherry and chocolate. Medium-full bodied, with dried, balsamic-laced, ripe black cherry, lots of chocolate and clove oak. Firm, drying tannins push through the fairly long finish. Modern style but a little overworked. (TJ)
90% Tempranillo, 10% other varieties (i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon) trained to gobelet. 18 months in 70% French, 30% American oak then 18 months in bottle.
Mid ruby. Spicy, slightly woody oak with a vanilla-cream tone, ripe black and red cherry. Medium bodied, with chalky, fairly firm tannins and a spicy oak, medium-long finish. Just lacking a touch in fruit density. (TJ)
From Rioja Alavesa. Vines at 500-750. This is made from the youngest vines. After destemming the grapes undergo 5–6 days of cold maceration, being pumped over three times a day. Fermentation takes place over 7–8 days at between 25 and 28 ºC, then the wine is racked to stainless-steel vats where malolactic fermentation takes place. Unoaked. Screwcap.
Deepest cherry red. Youthful, vibrant dark-red fruit, perhaps a touch of (temporary) rubbery reduction due to the screwcap. The fruit is rich and deep without being unnecessarily sweet and the tannins unexpectedly compact and chewy for a Joven. A really wholehearted red with an attractively dry finish and fresh acidity. GV but currently needs food. Feels slightly raw at the moment, as if it could do with another six months in the bottle but probably fine now at the table. Lack of make-up is appealing. Just a little bit of heat on the finish. Could do with some air. (JH)
From Rioja Alavesa. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano from the San Ángel vineyard located at the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria mountains, to the south of the Ebro River. The climate is moderate continental and the elevation varies from 500 to 750 metres. The soil is composed of clay and limestone. Fermentation in tapered stainless-steel vats of 25,000 litres, with pumping-over four times a day. Maceration continues for the next 20 days. Once malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is racked into French and American oak barrels for the next 14 months. Bottled and matured for a minimum of 12 months before being released.
Very deep cherry red with opaque core. Has the same ricness of dark fruit as the Joven 2017 but here with some added oak sweetness on the nose. Tannins are thick and deep, chewy but without much resistance. Darker and more savoury on the palate. Again still seems slightly raw, as it needs longer in bottle. it's all still quite clenched, though I can imagine it would be great with a piece of grilled meat. Would probably be better decanted. (JH)
Organic wine from biodynamically farmed young-vine Garnacha planted high up. Fermented in tank and aged five months in new and 2nd-fill French oak. Vegan wine.
Bright cherry red. Juicy red cherries on the nose and deliciously scented with red fruit on the palate. Dry, chalky tannins but so moreish and satisfying. Pure fruited, fine grained and carrying its alcohol well. Should age well but it is lovely already to drink on the tangy fruit. (JH)
100% Tempranillo from a single finca. 10- to 12-day fermentation then MLF in stainless steel. Four years in used American oak.
Mid-deep ruby. Subtle, nutty oak with just a touch of dill. Rich, ripe red fruit beneath, which still shows plenty of youthfulness. Compact but fine-grained, firm tannins confirm that this is still a baby. There’s the fruit density and fineness of tannins I have found typical of 2010 riojas. Good stuff that will reward cellaring. (TJ)
95% Tempranillo, 3% Graciano, 2% Garnacha. Three years in used American oak.
Mid garnet. Balsamic, some tomato-leaf, dill-pickle oak tones and gentle cinnamon. Dried red cherry. Very classically styled. Bright acidity, moderate, slightly chalky tannins and fair length of coconut and dried cherry. (TJ)
100% Tempranillo. Special selection. Four years in used American oak.
Mid brick-garnet. Black tea, mushroom, some vanilla and toasted coconut, with dried red fruit still present. Elegance to the palate, coupled with a richness of residual fruit and balsamic. Slightly drying tannins on the finish, but pretty good length. (TJ)
Old vines and field blend.
Lightish crimson. More dusty and chalky on the nose than this producer’s Lacazán, much more obviously minerally, with the freshness of whole bunch. Fresh and beautifully fine tannins, silky already and long. Juicy with wild red fruit and refined. GV (JH)
From the higher village of Punxeiro.
Light cherry red. Lots of smoky struck-match reduction but also lovely smoky dark-red fruit. Sour-cherry sweetness and purity, mouth-watering finesse and lingering beauty. (JH)
In Galicia but outside any specific DO. Continental with Atlantic influence. Granite and mica with lots of quartz. Blend of young Sousón and old-vine field blend. All their wines are 100% whole bunch and around 2 months’ gentle maceration.
Mid cherry red. Smoky, lightly reductive and a touch meaty. Smoky perfume. Gorgeous combination of dark-fruit intensity and high acidity. Rocky and dark but still fruity. Pure and long, the tannins definite, as you'd expect from Sousón, but beautifully ripe. (JH)
First vintage in 2001. 100-year-old vines from a 0.5 ha parcel on schist. Planted at 500 m elevation. Blend of different grapes but mainly Mencia. Usually 40% stems. Maceration lasts for 40–45 days. Eight barrels produced in a good year.
Very dark crimson. Excellent freshness plus life and racy lift. Long.
Planted at 400 m elevation (north facing), clay soil with lots of organic material. An important area because it represents the future of Bierzo. Raúl has worked with this plot since 2010 when the fruit was cheap – now it is expensive and almost impossible to buy the grapes. Small parcel of four ha with 24 different owners. Raúl’s parcel is 0.4 ha and steep. Just 11.5–12.5% abv. They pick this vineyard in mid September usually. Long maceration period and two months' skin contact. No flor.
Fresh and cool with real life and freshness. Hint of Bairrada. Light and salty.
Many different plots. Warm vintage too but harvest wasn’t as early as in 2017 – started on 27 August and completed over three weeks because of the variation in elevation and number of parcels. 2016 saw lots of mildew.
Very dark crimson. Fresh and lively. Smooth and lifted – quite a charmer. Fine tannins in abundance. The very essence of charm.
Frost shrunk the crop. 2017 was the earliest vintage ever (usually 10 September but this year a whole month earlier). Field blend. Old oak. All being converted to organic. Applied for certification. About two months skin contact and malo.
Healthy, concentrated nose. Rather stern and thick with sweet vegetal flavours and a pretty tough end.
Perez explains: ‘In 2005 (after working for the family business) I bought this plot. Looking back, I should never have bought this plot because my idea of winemaking is quite different now. I used to make wines with lots of oak and alcohol, the Spanish norm.’ The 1.5 ha vineyard usually yields 3,500 kg of fruit but only 800–1,000 kg in 2017.
Paler than the St Jacques. Mid crimson. Sweet and fragrant. Light and fragrant. Damson juice! Transparent and quite a bit of acidity. Round and bloody.
Lower parcel planted at 300 m elevation with two different soils: schist (upper part) and granite (lower part). First vintage in 2010. 100% with stems and long maceration, lower alcohol. Raúl sees similarities with Crozes-Hermitage and is looking for a lighter style. Bottled very recently and he is convinced this will be more expressive once the bottles arrive properly in the UK. Three 500-litre barrels produced (900–2,000 bottles).
Very juicy blend of grapes. Not the freshest. A bit too sweet for my taste.
Planted in the 1930s. Macerated for three months with the stems. Raúl sees an animal quality in this wine every other year. He was worried it might be brett but it seems to be a soil character. This parcel always surprises him, he says.
Quite broad, sweet and fragrant. Rather burgundian in shape and even flavour initially and then with lots of fine tannin.
20 ha plot planted at a high elevation. Over a hundred different owners. Raúl’s 1.7 ha plot is east-facing and hot – 100% clay. Not that steep with good sun exposure. Made with stems. Short skin contact: 20–25 days.
Higher acid and less distinctive than La Victoriana.
Three-ha plot with nine different owners – clay and very porous in the middle. Annual production of 3,000–4,000 bottles.
Pure nose – like decongestant? Very pure, fresh and gorgeous. Long.
Single-vineyard wine from the village of Rapolao. The vineyard is a Mencía-dominated field blend, but this wine is 100% Mencía. 80% stems.
Mid crimson. More lifted and fragrant than the Parajes from this producer, more red-fruited and elegant with super-fine texture. (JH)
The only one of his wines that is 100% Mencia. Three-month maceration with stems. He buys these grapes.
Very dark crimson. Rather sweet and polished. Grainy dry tannins on the end, a bit tough and rasping.
80% indigenous Moravia Agria (on limestone) and 20% Garnacha (granite). Carbonic maceration in big open tanks, then aged in big old wood.
Very light crimson. Wild cranberry and redcurrant zestiness on the nose. Lots of spice on the palate, but dry not sweet spice, and very fine tannins. A little chalky on the finish, vibrant and so fresh. Seems lightish in flavour but it has a very direct power at its core. (JH)
100% Bobal on limestone. Carbonic maceration in big open tanks, then aged in big old wood.
Mid cherry red. Smoky, mineral and spicy red and black fruit. Dry, chalky texture, so fresh. Real delicacy for Bobal and a long, dry, refined texture to the end. (JH)
From a 1-ha single vineyard. Mainly Bobal with a few other local varieties in the field. The name means 'narrow'.
Light cherry red. Smoky, lightly reductive but still sweet in red-cherry fruit. Inviting dusty character. Gorgeous dry texture but succulent and pretty. Elegant, lightish but very, very long. Perfect harmony and great length. (JH)
Pre-phylloxera Bobal at 900 m on sandy soil. Carbonic maceration then aged in big old oak.
Smudgy, mid cherry red. Inviting dark-red spicy fruit, complex and savoury, smoky, almost charry but not with anything oaky. Fabulous fruit purity with finely compact tannin texture. A little chewy but rounded and gloriously whole-hearted. Deep and long. (JH)
Darker and more stony on the nose, less sweet-fruited than the Labastida 2014 but no lack of dark-red fruit, damson and black cherry. Firm but now smooth tannins, chocolate texture. Super-fine and more elegant than the Labastida. Leaves your mouth clean and dry. (JH)13.5%
Mid garnet. Ripe and sweet, but still very fresh, on the nose. Finest chalky tannin texture with just a hint of spicy sweetness on the palate. Gently dry texture. Perfect for drinking now but no rush. (JH)14%
Gorgeous, tangy dark and red fruit. Smells wild and full of energy. Ripe but fresh. Chewy, sweet chocolately tannins, caressingly smooth and just ready to drink. Excellent combination of ripeness and freshness, mouth-filling yet the tannins pull it in on the finish. (JH)
Dark cherry colour. As well as the fresher fruit of the 2010, here there is more sign of the origin – more rocky and mineral with a slight dusty note over the fruit. Less sweet-fruited on the nose. Incredibly fine tannins, beautifully dry and succulent. Needs more time to show its complexity but it’s all in harmony for a long future. (JH)14.5%
Telmo Rodriquez's first vintage on his own.
Deep cherry red. Dark-red fruit and smells immediately much fresher and a lot more than a year younger than the 2009. The tannins are much, much finer, papery layers, and the fruit tastes fresher and with more energy. A notable change from the 2009, much fresher on the finish. (JH)
Telmo Rodriquez arrived in 2010 so he blended this wine that his father had made.
Deep cherry red. Lifted mature aromas of undergrowth and senescent fruit. Fruit still sweet and tangy. Thick, chewy tannins, ripe and chewy though still fresh. Needs food. Hint of oak sweetness on the finish. (JH)
Javier Zaccagnini has sold his shares in Aalto to focus fully on Sei Solo. 100% bush-vine Tempranillo from La Horra, with small pebbles, sand and clay on the surface, but 20 cm of chalk at 1 m depth. 50% vines over 40 years old, 50% younger vines. MLF in 228-, 500- and 600-litre barrels. 50% new and 50% older oak.
Mid-deep purple. Precise, ripe black fruit, with floral violet and some orange peel. Very expressive aromatically, with cinnamon and chocolate oak very much in the background. Fresh acidity, fine-grained but fairly firm tannins, with nicely ripe blackberry and violet fruit. Lovely length. Very smartly made. The 15% alcohol is not really noticeable. (TJ)
100% bush-vine Tempranillo from 60- to 100-year-old vines in three plots, at 1.5 t/ha or around 11–12 hl/ha. No new oak, to preserve the character of the vines. After alcoholic fermentation, racked to two-year-old barrels for MLF at around 10 °C. MLF takes around five months, which they find gives finesse. Matured in 600-litre oak of 2–6 years of age. Aiming for finesse over power and structure.
Mid-deep ruby-purple. Delicately scented violets, crushed rock and stones, and only very background nut and cinnamon spice. Fresh, medium body, with real precision to the red and black fruit. Peppery, youthful, fairly firm tannins point to the need for bottle age, but there is a lot of scented floral length here. Doing for Ribera what the new-wave of pared-back wines with less oak and more expression are doing for Rioja. Touch of warmth to the finish. (TJ)
80% Mencia, the rest a blend of local varieties. Fermented in concrete and aged in big old oak.
Distinctive aroma that is not just dark-red-fruited but also peppery and has a hint of something more rich and meaty. But the primary character is pure fruit and lightly herbaceous. A touch herbal (?stemmy) on the palate and stony/mineral too. Fine-boned and dry. Surprisingly long for quite a delicate wine. (JH)
Comes in a white box and a very odd square, blue bottle. 100% Tempranillo wine with selected grapes from vines over 40 years old. Fermentation in stainless steel at a temperature-controlled 24 ºC for nine days. Malolactic fermentation in contact with the lees in a selection of 70 new Bordeaux-type French oak barrels. 16 months in the same oak barrels. Minimum 8 months' ageing in the bottle.
First bottle corked. Second bottle: Florist-shop aroma, like damp, bruised rose petals with a bit of pine/resin. Inky and sooty on the palate. Dramatic, dark and very savoury – glinting with graphite, like liquid mica. Very dry tannins that build right at the back of the throat. You cannot drink this without food! But it has a distinct elegance, and a deep core of freshness that runs like a quiet underground stream through the wine. The packaging makes me very wary, but the wine is good. And it needs decanting, which solves the problem of having a giant perfume bottle on the dinner table. (TC)
Sharp, slightly bloody red fruit on the nose, cranberries and leather and mocha powder on the palate. Juicy but well defined. Fresh with a neatly crimped finish, tannins just the right side of dry. (TC)14%
12 months in oak barrel and minimum 12 months in bottle
Grilled, savoury fruit and an unexpected top note of rose oil. Mouth-filling, roast meat and spice, baked plum skins. Lovely gnarly texture and a thread of orange citrus and cumin brightening up the shadows on the palate. Just a bit short and hot to the finish. (TC)
16 months in oak barrel and minimum 10 months in bottle.
Inky and a little meaty, on both the nose and palate. Cloves, some high-toned fruit, but more high-toned than fruit. Tannins have a delayed astringency and there is bitterness on the finish which is not quite balanced out by flesh in the wine. Oily coconut note. Tastes more of barrel than grape. (TC)
Listán Negro on sandy soil, facing north and east at 480–520 m; 100% whole bunch.
Lightish ruby. The characteristic smokiness of these wines and this region is more muted here, the fruit a little more spicy. Dusty too. Super-fine tannins, paper-like and layered, very different from the El Chibirique. Lithe and scented and long. GV (JH)
Listán Negro. Same soils and winemaking as Candio but this is in the east and Candio is in the west. 50% whole bunch, one year in foudres.
Mid cherry red. Smoky and here there is both dark and red fruit. Lively, tighter tannins, more tension than in Candio, such refinement and nervy complexity. Long too. Mouth-watering salty mineral finish. GV (JH)
A blend of five local grape varieties, whole bunch for the 30% Listán Negro. Fermented in concrete and aged 9 months in old barrels.
Lightish ruby. Invitingly dusty, smoky nose. Chewy, so fresh, chalky-dry texture. Lots of fresh pleasure with the complexity that comes from respecting the site. (JH)
Listán Negro, aged in old 500-litre barrels. 50% whole bunch.
Deep cherry red. Smoky, deeply mineral black fruit. Rich and ripe contrasted with lovely acidity. Sweet/sour intensity in the fruit and dry finesse in the chalky tannins. Long and chewy. So moreish. (JH)
Listán Negro on clay soil, facing north and east at 380–420 m; 100% whole bunch.
Lightish ruby. Both smoky and sweet-fruited on the nose. Almost rubbery in its smokiness. Tannins are compact and more firm than their other wines tasted so far. Dry, compact, a little austere but so delicious. (JH)
Listán Negro, unoaked, low SO2. This wine is part of the informal 'brand' devised by Dirk Niepoort for wines that are lighter in just about every way but especially in terms of alcohol and added sulphites.
Lightish crimson. Utterly smoky Tenerife character. So smoky it is almost rubbery. Not reductive, suggests winemaker Jonaton Garcia Lima; it was more fruity early on but that smokiness is increasing in the bottle. Lots of fresh, juicy drinking pleasure. (JH)
North-facing Cariñena on slate. Much cooler site and harvested later than most other vineyards. Aged 16 months in a mix of concrete and old tonneaux.
Deep cherry red. Peppery, smoky and introverted. Compact, incredibly fine, multi-layered tannin. Beauty all in finesse and dark, dry elegance. Utterly delicious in its sober restraint and, I suspect, so much more to come. (JH)
Equal parts Garnacha and Cariñena. Whole bunch, fermented in concrete and aged one year in foudre.
Darker and darker-fruited than the Terroir Històric. Smoky, spicy and classic Priorat in its fine, dry but smooth texture and dry minerally aftertaste. Refined, elegant and long. (JH)
Their new label, a 'social project' buying grapes from seven villages to show that they can get better prices for them if they work in a particular way. 75% Grenache, 25% Cariñena. Whole bunch, fermented and aged in concrete.
Light cherry red. Smoky/reductive and peppery. Deliciously chewy but rounded texture and lots of fresh red fruit. Chewy chalky texture and scented on the palate. So moreish, dry but juicy and finishes with sweet fruit. (JH)
100% Petit Verdot in a short, heavy bottle with broad shoulders.
Smells like roast beef and mulberries. Really ripe fruit – mulberries, again – with a dark, sooty underlay. Masses of drying, briary tannins swarming around and through the fruit. Quite scented at the back of the palate, as if someone spritzed the finish with eau de cologne. Then blueberry jam and violets. Really interesting, and with the right food, this could be fabulous. They suggest carnes y asados on the back label (meat and roasts) and I could imagine this being quite a good wine for open-fire slow-cooked or smoked red meat. Lovely freshness on the finish. (TC)
Three months in American oak.
Plummy fruit on the nose, but tasting a little sharper than it smells. Juicy, well-rounded fruit with lots of freshness and bounce. The tannins are wiry, a little stewed-tea astringent, but they don't dominate the fruit. Appetising with a smidge of spice. So much better than the 2015 vintage of this wine. (TC)
Vinicola de Tomelloso, El Viñedo de la Vida Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo 2018 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
Big, candied fruity smell, like powdered wine gums. Very sweet, jammy fruit, which is actually balanced pretty well by the plentiful and slightly astringent tannins and lots of acidity. One-dimensional but super-friendly and easy to drink with or without food. A real quaffing wine and if this was at the right price point in a pub/bistro, I could imagine it selling out. Burger, fries and ketchup kind of wine. (TC)
Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah grown 750 m above sea level. Six months in American oak.
Smudgy-sweet nose – bruised plums. Plump, super-ripe black-cherry palate, a little candied in its sweetness. But there is plenty of acidity and a mouthful of dry tannins and soft chai-tea spice to prop up the sweetness. A little blunt and made to appeal in a commercial, milk-chocolate type of way. (TC)
100% Toro de Tinta, 80-year-old bush vines on sandy soils with alluvial boulders. Individually selected grapes, vinified in French oak at 28 ºC with 24 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation in new 225-litre Bordeaux barrels for 2 months. 24 months in new barrels, 100% French oak, different sizes, medium toast.
Charred ripe plums, toasty and deep on the nose. Concentrated, intensely sweet and sharp, like damsons, with that charred note persisting right through the palate. Rough-hewn tannins like the thick, heavy oak beams of old Tudor farmhouses. Has beautiful lift and freshness on the finish. Chinese five spice and lightly herbal. Chewy and rugged but with a seductive heart. Beautiful balance for a big, powerful and intense wine. (TC)
100% Tinta de Toro, bush vines in gravel and clay with light limestone. Controlled alcoholic fermentation at 28 ºC for 20 days on skins. Malolactic fermentation in a 12,000-litre French oak tank. 18 months French bordeaux barrels.
A little bit of volatile acidity on the nose, and prunes soaked in liqueur. Sweet prune-juice liquid with a strong oak imprint and dry woody tannins. Dry spices and raisins. You can feel the 15% heat, but it's not uncomfortable. This is a big old wine but the sappy acidity and firm, muscular structure hold up. Again, like the Klein 2015, you're going to need some hearty food with this. I'd keep it for a winter root-vegetable stew. (TC)
100% Tinta de Toro. Eight months in French oak barrels.
Velvety chocolate-dipped violets, soft and sweet in the mid palate with a brace of fairly vigorous tannins and a shot of acidity. Balanced, forward and unrefined but pleasant. Drying enough on the end to need food. (TC)
Single vineyard, certified organic.
There's a Mediterranean-garrigue aroma, lifting over a darker scent of leather and baked dark cherries and cocoa. Dry and savoury, the leather and cocoa coming forward, tannins tight and gleaming with racehorse power. There is spice, but you sense it more in the texture than in the flavour. A wine with enormous presence and real fire at the back of the throat, and yet it's carrying all this magnitude with surprising grace and elegance. Long, and incredibly fine on the finish. Bravo. (TC)
Single vineyard, certified organic.
Spicy red nose. Deep fruit and deeply concentrated, so concentrated that the damson-jam fruit tastes almost salty. The muscular tannins are almost lost in the heat and intensity of the wine. You can certainly feel that it's 14.5%, and perhaps it's a little more. The finish is strong and warm and like smoky-sweet chipotle with a eucalyptus lift running through. You wouldn't glug this back – but it would go beautifully with slow-cooked meat. (TC)
Smells of violet confectionery. Strangely perfumed, as if the wine has a cloud of purple pepper floating above it. Medium tannins doing exactly what they're supposed to do Just a little gamey and a little floral with a balsamic-vinegar sweet-and-sharp kind of finish. It doesn't quite come together at the moment, but maybe another six to 12 months in bottle will fix that. (TC)13.5%
Alto Turia. Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot.
A strange nose, a little like a stale bedroom. Very marked by oak on the palate. Masses of acidity, a good mouthful of stocky tannins, ripe high-toned dark fruit. And then this perfume, like men's eau de cologne, that doesn't quite seem to fit the wine. Better after it had been decanted. (TC)
Alta Turia. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot.
Tea leaves and fruit cake and dried fruit. Rich, tannic, and although it's not sweet it has all the flavours of a very dense, dark fruit cake that has been slightly burnt on the crust. Toasted oak creating a burly framework. Feels hotter than 13.5%. Although it does have a freshness, like bay leaves, running through it. Needs a big, slow-cooked beef stew. (TC)
Very heavy, environmentally unfriendly bottle sealed with red wax. Smells like Bovril/beef extract. Thick, dark, salty, sweet fruit, like prune compote, but with a dusting of powdered parma violets. Surely more than 13.5% alcohol? Big and beefy, but there is a mass of acidity pulling clean through all that dark figgy fruit. Not without charm, and a wine that would work very well with beef short ribs. (TC)13.5%
Coloured like Pinot Noir, with an aroma a bit like Nebbiolo, and a not un-similar tannic grip giving a very savoury, firm structure. Light in body – very much a recognisable type of wine, especially with the high acidity, but not quite right for Piemonte. A curiosity, and a great find for the vinous explorer. (RH)
Unoaked blend of several vineyards.
Sweet red-fruited pure Garnacha. Tangy fruit, pure and deliciously straightforward. Rounded in fruit and texture but finishes fresh and surprisingly long. (JH)
Interesting nose that is both ripe and perfumed, very ripe red fruit plus something floral like peonies. Those same flavours on the palate. A crowd-pleaser yet with sufficient structure for the table. (JH)14%
100% Garnacha. Single vineyard chosen for freshness. 25% whole bunch. Aged in a foudre and older 500-litre oak.
Lightish crimson. Fragrant with red-cherry fruit though there's a slight stony quality to add interest. Lively and finely dry texture. Extremely fresh finish. (JH)
100% Garnacha. Their oldest vines, some pre-phylloxera.
Lightish cherry red. Spicy and sweet dark-red fruit. Fragrant and peppery on the palate, super-fine tannins. Zesty, dry and a very fresh finish. (JH)
12 months in French oak.
Strawberry fruit, smelling light and easy but there's quite a grip of tannins on the palate. Vanilla-dusted oak flavours but the fruit deepens and balances. Bit of cardamom-skin bitterness and spice. Then the mid-palate fruit holds and pulls through. Tannins need food, and this wine needs a barbecue. (TC)