The Rich Red Wines of Spain
It’s a really exciting time for Spain’s wines. Across the country, quality is at an all-time, delicious high and the value for your money has never been better. Here’s a rich collection of favorites — on your table for for less than $20 a bottle.
Join Laithwaites Wine Club and receive 12 Bottles of Premium Wine for Less Than $6/Bottle and a Free Gift
We start things off with a ‘hot’ Toro red from winemaker Ricardo Sanz (whose wines have been featured on the list at El Bulli, the world’s No. 1 restaurant). Next, it’s over to the Roqueta family’s historic estate in Castilla, where they make a silky, berry-laced Tempranillo.
Heading south, we stop in Yecla for a new vintage of the Castaño family’s Decanter-praised Monastrell. Plus, a 10-year-old Gran Reserva rarity from an 800-year-old Campo de Borja cellar; Mario Garcia’s old-vine Tarragona Monastrell; and Xavier Domecq’s barrel-aged ‘super cuvée’ (made from a favorite block of gnarled, old Garnacha vines in the heart of Cariñena).
Monasterio de Santa Cruz 2010 Spain
Lovers of rich, powerful reds take note. For centuries, this out-of-the-way region of Spain was Bordeaux’s secret weapon. Ancient vines conjured deep, dark, concentrated wines that added depth and flavor to France’s finest. Now, by bottling it pure, ambitious young winemakers in Tarragona are creating magnificent wines in their own right. While the word hasn’t gotten out to many, it has to us: off-the-beaten-path is our regular route. So this mouth-filling insider’s wine is a real find: stunning quality and similar value.
The critically acclaimed Mario Garcia has crafted a succulent, complex, purple-black wine from the ripest, hand-picked Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre). It’s super smooth and steak-ready. Here is just the kind of wine and winemaker we go that extra mile to find. Forget Bordeaux. Remember Tarragona and discover an insider’s wine at an insider’s price.
Intense aromas of spiced plum and cherry. Then rich, ripe black fruit flavors on a velvety smooth palate. Long finish and longing for steak.
Palacio de Menade Toro 2010 Spain
Ricardo Sanz’s family have been making wine in Spain’s Rueda for generations. His whites have been served at the super-exclusive El Bulli restaurant – but even fewer get to taste his reds.
For this gem, Ricardo went to his family’s small Toro vineyard. Here, the hot climate produces exuberant Tempranillo (explaining why it’s also a hot spot for savvy investors from Rioja and Ribera del Duero … seems ever since Toro was named a “region to watch” by Wine Spectator, it’s been giving those other top regions a run for their money).
Ricardo chose perfectly ripe ‘Tinto de Toro’ (as it’s known here) from gnarly, 50-year old bush vines that yield fewer grapes, but more intensely concentrated flavors. As you’ll taste, its reds offer their own deliciously rich, brawny character. Or, as Ricardo puts it: “Their powerful fruit and rugged character betrays the equally rugged landscape from which they come.”
Notes of wild red fruit on the nose. Super-concentrated flavors of black cherry and plum from 50-year-old vines. Hints of delicate vanilla from light aging in U.S. and French oak.
Gran Bombero 2009 Spain Grenache
Here’s the spicier, Reserva-style ‘big brother’ of our full-flavored favorite El Bombero.
Gran Bombero owes its flavor intensity to Cariñena’s gnarled, bush-trained old Garnacha vines – some of the oldest in Spain and up to 95 years-old. Chief winemaker Xavier Domecq uses only the tiniest bunches of super-ripe grapes (they’d fit in the palm of your hand) from his prized, lowest-yielding vines.
The wine is then aged in American oak (best suited for velvety Garnacha) for a Reserva-style red with an irresistibly smooth finish. All kept beautifully smooth thanks to that warming 15% alcohol. Delicious drinking – guaranteed.
Brilliant red color with hints of blue and violet. Delicate aromas of ripe strawberry and flowers mingle with vanilla and toasty oak. Food-friendly tannins and a very long, elegant finish.
Ermita de San Lorenzo Gran Reserva 2002 Spain Grenache
Think about it — when was the last time you had a perfectly mature, 10-year-old Reserva? How about a perfectly mature, 10-year-old Gran Reserva? The latter is the top tier of Spanish reds, made only in exceptional vintages, with a required aging time of (at least) 5 years. It gets even better here with this perfectly mature beauty (that comes with a fantastic pedigree). It’s crafted for you by Susana Ruberte and Pamela Geddes, two of Spain’s leading female winemakers. Their 2001 has a coveted gold medal from a major international show. And you’re in for a real treat with their sumptuously barrel-aged follow-up …
Expect mellow, dark berry flavors layered over silky-smooth vanilla oak and a long, velvety finish. Decant into a glass pitcher or jar to really open up the flavors, then serve with a variety of lamb dishes. Go classic Spain with chuletas de cordero al ajo cabañil (lamb chops with garlic-roasted potatoes) or caldereta de cordero (a traditional stew). Also delicious with grilled lamb skewers or garlicky, roast spring lamb.
Vega Oliveras Tempranillo 2009 Spain Tempranillo
A silky Tempranillo from one of Spain’s oldest wineries. The Roqueta family has been making wine for 800 years in the northeastern region of Pla de Bages (Plain of Baccus, named after the Greek god of wine). But the grapes in this mouthfilling red were actually handpicked by Juan Soler farther south in hot, sunny La Mancha (where ancient vines yield intensely concentrated flavors). Like all quality Spanish reds, this has been patiently barrel-aged for complexity. Taste for yourself before they’ve sold out.
Deep scarlet red in the glass. Enticing strawberry and cranberry aromas with light spice notes. Ripe red berry and plum on the palate, layered with toasty vanilla oak. Smooth, velvety finish.
El Secano Garnacha 2010 Spain Grenache
In the heart of remote Aragón, Bodegas Leceranas is the pride and joy of three young wine enthusiasts: Ricardo Mosteo, Alfonso Mort and Henrik Heikel. In 2006, they embarked on a mission: to make wines that are “true to their origin.” Mission accomplished, with this lovely Garnacha (the grape the French call ‘Grenache’). As you’ll taste, it offers the two major hallmarks you get in the Garnacha wines of Aragón: intensely concentrated old-vine (viñas viejas) fruit flavor and warming high alcohol. Expect a deep ruby-purple color, with aromas of ripe red fruits, white pepper and violets. Gobs of fresh cherry, raspberry and strawberry flavor do their thing on the palate; the smooth texture lingers through the long finish. Try sipping it like a local, with the region’s famous pollo al chilindró (chicken stew with onions, tomatoes and red peppers).
All deliciously smooth enough to sip solo (but fantastic with roast lamb, chorizo and Manchego cheese, or hearty paella). Served up with a can’t-miss $45 savings. Please order today. Collection consists of 2 bottles of each. While Supplies Last laithwaiteswine.com