A Spanish Christmas

A Spanish Christmas

Spain has been one of the most exciting wine producing countries for a decade or more now. Relying on their own collection of indigenous grape varieties, every region of Spain seems to be offering great unique wines just waiting to be discovered. This week, four Spanish wines, two from well-known regions, the others from less familiar areas.

Together, they make up the complete Spanish Christmas collection.

Cava María Casanovas Brut de Brut NV Organic

Fresh orchard fruits and melons with a touch of brioche. There is plenty of citrus acidity, good depth and great length for a sparkling wine at this price. The prefect way to start proceedings at Christmas or for New Year’s Eve.

€26 from Green Man Wines, D6W; Pinto Wines, D9;; Corkscrew, D2; Grapevine, Dalkey; McCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork; Whelehan’s, Loughlinstown; A Taste of Spain, D2.

Made from a blend of 30% Macabeo 30% Xarel.lo 40% Parellada, this organic wine is produced on a small family-owned estate in the Penedes. I could write a book on the legal changes afoot regarding sparkling wine in Cataluyna. Suffice to say that there are some excellent sparkling wines being made at the moment, some under the Cava DO, others under the name Corpinnat, and still more labelled Clàssic Penedès. There are big moves towards better quality, and also to organic viticulture.

Gabo do Xil O Barreiro 2022, Valdeorras

Fresh and light, but not lacking in concentration, this has a lively minerality, peach and melon fruits with a lip-smacking dry finish. It has good texture and will probably fill out with time, but it is drinking beautifully now. Enjoy it with the traditional Christmas dinner starters.

€24.95 from Lilith, D7; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; Pinto Wines, D9; Deveney’s, D14.

The Godello grape, recently rescued from near extinction, is now responsible for some of the greatest white wines of Spain. Telmo Rodriguez (see below) was one of the first to become entranced by the wines produced from grapes grown on steep terraced slopes of Valdeorras. He has 23 hectares of vines here, and recently bought one small 2 hectare north-facing vineyard, which he told me, will be his final project.

Rioja Lanzaga LZ 2021 Organic

Fresh, with delightful, sweet/sour dark fruits and a tannin-free finish. Lovely purity of fruit, and decent length. This would go nicely with turkey, ham and all of the other trimmings.

€21 from Ely Maynooth; Green Man Wines, D6W; Lilith, D7; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock.

This is a traditional Basque Rioja, fermented and aged entirely in cement tanks using organic grapes from around the village of Lanziego in Rioja Alavesa.

Pablo Eguzkiza and Telmo Rodríguez met while studying wine in Bordeaux. Together they have been amongst the most influential forces in Spanish winemaking over the last few decades. Both of Basque origin, they were instrumental in reviving the winemaking history and culture in many parts of Spain. Their focus has been to work with indigenous grape varieties and local growers. Rodriguez grew up in Remelluri, the family estate in Rioja Alavesa, the Basque part of Rioja, and is focussing more of his energies here these days.

Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos NV

A lovely rich Amontillado sherry with dried fruits, toasted wood, mahogany polish and butterscotch. The perfect after dinner drink with walnuts and blue cheese.

€14.50-17 for a ½ bottle from Mitchell & Son; O’Briens; Morton’s, Ranelagh; Bradley’s, Cork; Redmond’s, D6; MacCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork; McHugh’s, D5.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Lustau was one of the most innovative sherry producers, developing the concept of Almacenista and vintage wines. While a generation of other younger wineries now produce an amazing array of wines, Lustau remains the benchmark by which they are judged.

Posted in: The Wine on Wednesday, Top Drop

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