Whenever I’m wandering through Utah’s state wine stores, I am inevitably drawn to the aisles stocked with wines from Spain. Spain—along with Portugal and Greece—offers great wine values that are a little harder to find in the France, Italy and Germany sections of the store. A case in point: The following eight Spanish wines are well-made, delicious—and all priced under $20. In fact, they’re so economical, I’d suggest buying all eight and hosting a Spanish wine-tasting party along with some simple tapas.
Let’s kick things off with a terrific bottle of Spanish bubbly. Marques de Gelida Brut ($16.99) is an excellent Spanish sparkler made from Maccabeo, Xarello, Parellada and Chardonnay. Thanks to Marques de Gelida’s yeasty, green-apple notes, tiny bubbles and long finish, I’ve fooled people in blind tastings into thinking this was French Champagne. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better sparkling-wine value. And it comes in a snazzy Veuve-colored orange and white bottle.
Tres Ojos 2009 ($10.49) is unfiltered old-vine Garnacha from Calatayud, in the northeast of Spain, between Madrid and Zaragoza. Tres Ojos means “three eyes,” and is named for a local bridge with three arches, which is also pictured on the bottle label. Raspberry flavors dominate this fruity wine, along with cracked pepper. I really enjoyed it with a sampling of Creminelli salami.
Another solid, inexpensive Spanish Garnacha is Tapeña 2009 ($10.99), with fruity cherry and strawberry notes and hints of vanilla. It’s the bomb with roasted pork and romesco sauce.
Let’s head to Rioja for the next couple wines. One of the best bargains I’ve stumbled upon in the past year is Marqués de Riscal Próximo 2009, which sells here for a measly $8.99 normally, and is often on sale for $5.99. This Tempranillo-based wine is a bright, fruit-forward, easy-drinking red wine that pairs nicely with a wide range of Mediterranean flavors. It has hints of anise, which makes it a good partner for dishes with fennel.
However, one of the most beautiful wines I’ve tasted in a while is Bodegas Bilbainas Viña Zaco 2010 ($13.99). I tasted this one without knowing the price, and thought it was something I wouldn’t be able to afford. Wrong! It’s an outstanding value, with rich, dark crushed-fruit flavors, yet surprisingly sleek and nuanced on the tongue, and it just gets better and better as the air hits it. Can you tell I love this stuff?
From the Rueda region of Spain comes Bodegas Naia Rueda ($14.99), made from 100 percent Verdejo grapes, which produce soft, aromatic white wines that are medium- to full-bodied. A small portion of the wine is aged sur lie in French oak, with the balance in stainless steel. The result is gorgeous floral aromas upon opening the wine, with grapefruit, pear, white peach and lime flavors coursing through the mid-palate—an interesting detour from more common Sauvignon Blanc.
Another interesting, inexpensive white wine from Spain is Bodegas Aldial Lanzos Blanco ($9.99), a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viura grapes harvested in Spain’s Castilla y León region. It’s a crisp, dry, unoaked white wine with guava, grapefruit and nectarine notes, and is a good match for grilled quesadillas with shrimp or Manchego cheese.
Well, let’s splurge on this final white wine: Bodegas Ruchel Godello 2011 ($17.99), from the Valdeorras D.O., just north of Portugal. This Godello is remarkably elegant and fine-tuned, with good minerality and acidity, reminding me more of French Chablis than typical Spanish Godello. It’s a perfect partner for shellfish like shrimp, crab, lobster and oysters on the half-shell. Salud!