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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97 points James Suckling: This is a driven and super tight Gran Reserva with dark berries and hints of spice and cedar. A spicy red-pepper undertone and some dried flowers. Full to medium body, integrated tannins and a superb finish. A great wine. Available in September 2018. A wine for the cellar,… ...
JS 97
TA 96
PG 96
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La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva 904 2009  (#701930)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

97 points James Suckling: This is a driven and super tight Gran Reserva with dark berries and hints of spice and cedar. A spicy red-pepper undertone and some dried flowers. Full to medium body, integrated tannins and a superb finish. A great wine.…

750ml Bottle | Pre-arrival, 12+ available
JS 97
TA 96
PG 96
PRE-ARRIVAL
$48.95
$60.00
Save $11.05 (18%)60.00
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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 | In stock, 12+ available
WA 95
JS 94
IWR 94
$39.95
$50.00
Save $10.05 (20%)50.00
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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
V 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, 9 available
$44.95
$50.00
Save $5.05 (10%)50.00
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91+ points Luis Gutierrez (Wine Advocate): ...blend of Tempranillo with 20% Graciano... very different to the 2010 and 2011, with much more freshness, clearly reflecting the conditions of the vintage; it has red rather than black fruit, and is obviously young with some lactic aromas that need a… ...
WA 91
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Mas Que Vinos Rioja La Buena Vid 2013  (#327904)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

91+ points Luis Gutierrez (Wine Advocate): ...blend of Tempranillo with 20% Graciano... very different to the 2010 and 2011, with much more freshness, clearly reflecting the conditions of the vintage; it has red rather than black fruit, and is…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$19.95
$30.00
Save $10.05 (34%)30.00
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91 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): The unoaked red 2016 LZ is produced with a blend of head-pruned Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano from the village of Lanciego... It's a superb, characterful, approachable Rioja with a completely different profile, fruit-driven with notes of licorice and an… ...
WA 91
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Lanzaga (Telmo Rodriguez) Rioja LZ 2016  (#701972)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

91 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): The unoaked red 2016 LZ is produced with a blend of head-pruned Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano from the village of Lanciego... It's a superb, characterful, approachable Rioja with a completely different…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
$14.95
$18.00
Save $3.05 (17%)18.00
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93 points James Suckling: A modern and densely-fruited expression that has a wealth of concentrated dark chocolate, plum and black licorice as well as strong toasty oak emanating through the finish. Drinking well, but best from 2020. (7/24/17) ...
JS 93
WS 91
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Orowines Priorat BlueGray 2015  (#701935)

Other Red Blends from Priorat, Spain

93 points James Suckling: A modern and densely-fruited expression that has a wealth of concentrated dark chocolate, plum and black licorice as well as strong toasty oak emanating through the finish. Drinking well, but best from 2020. (7/24/17)

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$16.95
$20.00
Save $3.05 (15%)20.00
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93 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...The vines are old and are head-pruned, mostly Mencía, whose full clusters fermented in two open-top oak barrels, where the wine also matured for one year. Very aromatic and subtle, with nuances, elegant and very changing in the glass. There is a trace of… ...
WA 93
W&S 93
WS 91
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La Vizcaina Bierzo El Rapolao Lomas de Valtuille 2015  (#702036)

Other Red Wines from Bierzo, Spain

93 points Luis Gutiérrez (Wine Advocate): ...The vines are old and are head-pruned, mostly Mencía, whose full clusters fermented in two open-top oak barrels, where the wine also matured for one year. Very aromatic and subtle, with nuances, elegant…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 11 available
WA 93
W&S 93
WS 91
$32.95
$40.00
Save $7.05 (18%)40.00
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96 points James Suckling: Some richer, darker and deeper fruit character with plums, blackberries and a dark, earthy streak. The tannins are more upright, more elevated, and the fruit is richer and darker than in the Labastida. This has real presence, grip and energy. Try from 2021. (8/2/18) ...
JS 96
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Remelluri Rioja Lindes de Remelluri Vinedos de San Vicente 2014  (#333052)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

96 points James Suckling: Some richer, darker and deeper fruit character with plums, blackberries and a dark, earthy streak. The tannins are more upright, more elevated, and the fruit is richer and darker than in the Labastida. This has real presence…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 3 available
Albariño aged for 8 months in 500-liter French oak barrels. Golden yellow color, pale and bright. Mineral aroma, white flowers and ripe fruit. Marked acidity is expressive of its young age. Salty, silky and voluminous on the palate with a long finish which includes hints of white pepper. ...
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Do Ferreiro (Mendez) Albarino Rias Baixas Dous Ferrados 2016  (#702064)

Albariño from Rías Baixas, Spain

Albariño aged for 8 months in 500-liter French oak barrels. Golden yellow color, pale and bright. Mineral aroma, white flowers and ripe fruit. Marked acidity is expressive of its young age. Salty, silky and voluminous on the palate with a long finish…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
96 points James Suckling: A red showing wild dark fruits with an exotic undertone. Rose petals and sweet tobacco, too. Very perfumed. Full-bodied, yet refined and tied together. Tight and focused. A lovely finish. Gorgeous wine. So long lived. Drink now or hold. (8/2/18) ...
JS 96
W&S 94
PG 94
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Roda Rioja Roda I Reserva 2001  (#701918)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

96 points James Suckling: A red showing wild dark fruits with an exotic undertone. Rose petals and sweet tobacco, too. Very perfumed. Full-bodied, yet refined and tied together. Tight and focused. A lovely finish. Gorgeous wine. So long lived. Drink…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
JS 96
W&S 94
PG 94
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 | In stock, 12+ available
$29.95
$45.00
Save $15.05 (33%)45.00
Save $15.05 (33%)
93 points James Suckling: Aromas of red licorice with green olives, sage bush and plums. Full body, chewy and round tannins. Lots of fruit. From a vineyard planted in the occidental part of Rioja Alavesa in a village called Lanziego. Structured. Drink or hold. (7/16/15) ...
JS 93
V 92
WA 92
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Telmo Rodriguez Rioja Lanzaga 2010  (#328218)

Tempranillo/Tinto Fino from Rioja, Spain

93 points James Suckling: Aromas of red licorice with green olives, sage bush and plums. Full body, chewy and round tannins. Lots of fruit. From a vineyard planted in the occidental part of Rioja Alavesa in a village called Lanziego. Structured.…

750ml Bottle | In stock, 9 available
$34.95
$40.00
Save $5.05 (13%)40.00
Save $5.05 (13%)
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