Spain, WINE

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Much like the other titans of European wine production, Spain's industry has deep historical roots and a kaleidoscopic assortment of varietals, styles, and landscapes. Spain has remained the most staunchly traditional (some might even say backward) of the major European wine-producing nations, but the inevitable march of moderniztion and the demands of the international wine market have compelled many producers to adopt new methods and philosophies.

Spain's rivers form the backbone of many of its most important regions, none more so than the river Ebro that flows through the Rioja DOC. Spain's most prestigeous wine region has undergone fluctuations in style and quality like few others over the years. As in the rest of central Spain, Tempranillo is the favored grape for the finest wines, with Graciano and Mazuelo (Carignan) making up the difference in most blends. In youth, these medium-bodied wines are bright, berry-laden crowd pleasers, but with age, the finest ones (Gran Reservas) can develop haunting complexity and texture reminiscent of fine, aged Burgundy. A hallmark of the wines is their aging in new oak, typically American in origin, and a wine's categorization depends on the length of time spent in barrel. White Rioja wines, made from primarily from Viura (Macabeo), are also famously long-lived and usually see the same extended oak regimen as the reds.

Nearby, on the vast expanse of the Castilla y Leon plateau, other regions also excel with Tempranillo. Ribera del Duero is the more rustic cousin to Rioja's refined presentation. In the hotter continental climate, where temperatures fluctuate dramatically from day to night, the Tempranillo grape takes on a decidedly more animalistic tone. It's no coincidence that this region is home to Spain's most expensive and sought-after wine, Vega Sicilia. The ancient Roman settlement of Toro is also renowned for producing perhaps the densest, most luxuriantly ripe versions of Tempranillo, albeit with some latent sense of balance. The Bierzo region on northwest edge of Castilla y Leon is markedly different thanks to a small degree of exposure to influences from the Atlantic Ocean. Cooler temperatures and slate and granite soils are ideal for the Mencia grape to thrive, making for lighter, lively, fruity wines characterized by a profoundly mineral streak. Rueda is the one prominent white wine region on the plateau, where Verdejo is the principal grape.

Over the Sierra de Cantabria mountains, the north coast of Spain is cooler and wetter. From the Albariño wines of the Galician coast and Rías Baixas in the west to the bracing, lightning Txakolina wines of Basque country to the east, this climate is capable of producing some of the raciest, most refreshing white wines in the world. In the Catalan northeast of the country, at the foot of the Pyrenees, the hot, montane climate excels in producing burly, powerful red wines from Garnacha, Cariñena, and Monastrell. The rustic, hilltop villages of Priorat are especially known for ripeness, power, and longevity. The nearby Penedès produces prodminantly white wines, most notably Spain's answer to Champagne, the sparking Cava wines.

Moving south, the climate warms significantly, and the central regions of Spain, like Jumilla, Yecla, and La Mancha all depend on the harda Garnacha and Monastrell grapes to produce their sometimes massive, rustic, bold reds. The Jerez region in the Andalucían south produces Spain's utterly unique Sherry wines. From the dry Fino and Amontillado styles to the richer, more decadent Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez, these wines are some of the most singular styles in the world. While their styles are not friendly to mass consumption, the connoisseur inevitably finds in the finest examples character and complexity that are unmatched.

Spain's wine tapestry is as ancient as anywhere in Europe, and just as varied. While the country has been slow to jump on the modernization wave, it's now well on its way to a bright future.

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94+ points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...Tempranillo with 3% Garnacha and 2% Graciano, sourced from 50-year-old... single-vineyard... This feels very harmonious, combining some primary notes with more-developed tertiary aromas. The palate also reveals a rare mix of power and elegance that only… ...
WA 94
JG 92
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Hermanos Pecina Rioja Gran Reserva Finca Iscorta de Pecina 2010  (#702010)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

94+ points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...Tempranillo with 3% Garnacha and 2% Graciano, sourced from 50-year-old... single-vineyard... This feels very harmonious, combining some primary notes with more-developed tertiary aromas. The palate also…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12 available
$44.95
$50.00
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94 points Luis Gutierrez (Wine Advocate): ...a blend of Tempranillo with 15% Garnacha and 5% Graciano and Mazuelo... It has a very developed nose, and as winemaker Mercedes López de Heredia noted, 'It could be confused with a Gran Reserva, as I see it more tertiary and developed.' ...There are some… ...
WA 94
JS 94
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Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Bosconia Reserva 2006  (#332908)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

94 points Luis Gutierrez (Wine Advocate): ...a blend of Tempranillo with 15% Garnacha and 5% Graciano and Mazuelo... It has a very developed nose, and as winemaker Mercedes López de Heredia noted, 'It could be confused with a Gran Reserva, as I see…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
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94 points Wine & Spirits: 'From notes of candied tangerines, this develops scents of mint leaves and flowers. It offers pure sensory pleasure, but also a little intellectual challenge--setting out to recognize all the aromas that emerge from the glass. Eladio Piñeiro, former owner of Mar de Frades,… ...
W&S 94
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Eladio Pineiro Albarino Envidiacochina Rias Baixas 2016  (#701863)

Albariño from Rías Baixas, Spain

94 points Wine & Spirits: 'From notes of candied tangerines, this develops scents of mint leaves and flowers. It offers pure sensory pleasure, but also a little intellectual challenge--setting out to recognize all the aromas that emerge from the…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 7 available
$21.95
$27.00
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95 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): The red flagship 2006 Viña Tondonia Reserva was inspired by the vineyards of the Médoc but produced with local grapes, 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, which achieved 13% alcohol in 2006. It always matures in used American oak… ...
WA 95
JS 94
IWR 94
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Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Tondonia Reserva 2006  (#333252)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

95 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): The red flagship 2006 Viña Tondonia Reserva was inspired by the vineyards of the Médoc but produced with local grapes, 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, 5% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo, which achieved 13% alcohol in…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
WA 95
JS 94
IWR 94
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$39.95
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92+ points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...The wine... has a fresh and balanced nose, with notes of good freshness—quite striking for a warmish year—with citrus notes intermixed with hints of white flowers and fruit. It's a more powerful year, with 13.5% alcohol, but has great acidity and… ...
WA 92
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Do Ferreiro (Mendez) Albarino Rias Baixas 2016  (#702207)

Albariño from Rías Baixas, Spain

92+ points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...The wine... has a fresh and balanced nose, with notes of good freshness—quite striking for a warmish year—with citrus notes intermixed with hints of white flowers and fruit. It's a more powerful year,…

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$26.95
$30.00
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89 points Jeb Dunnuck: The 2016 Burgans Albariño (100% Albariño aged 3 months in tank) is a richer, medium-bodied white that has exotic notes of lime, peach, and honeyed minerality all soaring from the glass. It has rock solid purity and freshness, ample texture, and is going to shine on the dinner… ...
JD 89
PG 89
DE 87
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Burgans Albarino Rias Baixas 2016  (#330691)

Albariño from Rías Baixas, Spain

89 points Jeb Dunnuck: The 2016 Burgans Albariño (100% Albariño aged 3 months in tank) is a richer, medium-bodied white that has exotic notes of lime, peach, and honeyed minerality all soaring from the glass. It has rock solid purity and freshness,…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
JD 89
PG 89
DE 87
92 points James Suckling: This is a very classic Rioja with dried fruit and hints of vanilla. Lots of plums and red fruit. Full-bodied, round and juicy. Exotic and beautiful. Very pretty 2012. Drink now. (8/2/18) ...
JS 92
WA 90
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La Rioja Alta Rioja Vina Alberdi Reserva 2012  (#702167)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

92 points James Suckling: This is a very classic Rioja with dried fruit and hints of vanilla. Lots of plums and red fruit. Full-bodied, round and juicy. Exotic and beautiful. Very pretty 2012. Drink now. (8/2/18)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
93 points and 'Best Buy,' Robert Parker: The non-vintage Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Solera Reserva reveals a medium amber hue along with a nutty, honeyed, dry personality with great acid. (Aug 2012) ...
RP 93
WS 91
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Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Amontillado Sherry Los Arcos NV  (#110189)

Sherry from Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Spain

93 points and 'Best Buy,' Robert Parker: The non-vintage Dry Amontillado Los Arcos Solera Reserva reveals a medium amber hue along with a nutty, honeyed, dry personality with great acid. (Aug 2012)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 2 available
98 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): I tasted a bottle of the 2009 Único blind and was taken by the freshness, the red fruit notes and the Burgundian-like characteristics of this vintage, which on paper was quite warm and dry. With time in the glass the Único opened up and got closer to the… ...
WA 98
JS 98
PG 95
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Vega Sicilia unico Ribera del Duero 2009  (#334030)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Ribera del Duero, Spain

98 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): I tasted a bottle of the 2009 Único blind and was taken by the freshness, the red fruit notes and the Burgundian-like characteristics of this vintage, which on paper was quite warm and dry. With time in the…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
WA 98
JS 98
PG 95
NEW ITEMPRE-ARRIVAL
$309.95
$571.00
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92 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...mostly Tempranillo with 9% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo and 3% Garnacha... the wine matured in barrel for 18 months. This is a somehow unusual vintage of Murrieta Reserva from a challenging vintage, with aromas of beef blood, sweet spices and red cherries. The… ...
WA 92
WS 91
JS 91
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Marques de Murrieta Rioja Finca Ygay Reserva 2013  (#701855)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

92 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...mostly Tempranillo with 9% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo and 3% Garnacha... the wine matured in barrel for 18 months. This is a somehow unusual vintage of Murrieta Reserva from a challenging vintage, with aromas of…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
WA 92
WS 91
JS 91
$21.95
$29.00
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WHWC Staff Notes: A more elegant vintage than 2015. The wine exhibits a glass-coating, opaque purple color with an expressive nose of char, underbrush, briar, and blueberry compote, leading to a plush, opulent wine with great density of fruit and savory flavors of cured meat, tar, and graphite. For… ...
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El Nido Clio Jumilla 2016  (#702141)

Other Red Blends from Jumilla, Spain

WHWC Staff Notes: A more elegant vintage than 2015. The wine exhibits a glass-coating, opaque purple color with an expressive nose of char, underbrush, briar, and blueberry compote, leading to a plush, opulent wine with great density of fruit and…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
93 points Tim Atkin, MW: (13%) 'We don’t want people to notice the vintage variation,' says Maria-José López de Heredia, but notice it they will in the switch from cool 2008 to much more Mediterranean 2009. This savoury, spicy blend of Tempranillo with 20% Garnacha and 5% each of Mazuelo and… ...
TA 93
JS 93
WA 92
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Lopez de Heredia Rioja Vina Cubillo Crianza 2009  (#701944)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

93 points Tim Atkin, MW: (13%) 'We don’t want people to notice the vintage variation,' says Maria-José López de Heredia, but notice it they will in the switch from cool 2008 to much more Mediterranean 2009. This savoury, spicy blend of Tempranillo…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
TA 93
JS 93
WA 92
$24.95
$29.00
Save $4.05 (14%)29.00
Save $4.05 (14%)
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