Rediscovering the wines of Spain...

 

The Iberian peninsula has at least been making wine for the past 3000 years, and has a rich history on the development of wine and what is has become today. Spain is one the oldest wine producing countries in the world, with evidence of the first grape vines being planted around 1100 B.C. in the region of Andalucía.

 

Like a Bull in China Shop Red (48363) $8.70 is medium-bodied with jammy fruit flavors of berries and plums. The obvious new oak, vanilla and red fruit flavours mixed with spicy, earthy notes are surprising in such an affordable imported red wine.  Like the eye-catching label, this wine will shatter your expectations.

 

When the Phoenicians landed in Spain in 1100 B.C. they planted the first grape vines in Cadiz and started making wine. When the Romans conquered Spain around 210 B.C. wine production expanded throughout the country and it became a main source of work and income for the people. The quality of the wine varied from region to region, in those ancient times, but the province of Tarragona and the Region of Andalucía produced and exported the best wine.

 

From Murcia in the south east, a blend of 85 per cent Monastrell and 15 per cent Shiraz, Pasico Monastrell Shiraz (566664) $10.45 pours a deep cherry red into the glass. Extravagant aromas of blackberries and sweet herbs slide seamlessly into similar flavours - blackberries, plums and cherries.

 

Spain’s most recognized indigenous wine grape is Tempranillo. They have been making it into wine for over 2,000 years. Unlike New World countries who imported vines from France or Italy, Tempranillo was born and bred in Spain.

 

Northeast of fabled Rioja, in less well known Navarra, Spain’s Bodegas Nekeas growers’ and winemakers’ collective fashions Vega Sindoa Garnacha Rosado (772772) $11.70 from 100 per cent Grenache. This is a deeply coloured Rosé that seems deceptively sweet at first sip before filling out with strawberry and raspberry flavours that are actually dry and spiced with white pepper, sage and anise.

Tempranillo has more than a dozen different aliases around the world. It’s called Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro, Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in La Mancha and Tinto Roriz in Portugal.

Masia F Tempranillo (446963) $11.90 shows surprising intensity and varietal

character. With aromas and flavours of dusty blackberry, raspberry, cherry and plum, it is a rich and juicy mouthful of medium-bodied red that finishes with notes of vanilla, and earthy oak.

 

Jumilla is situated in south-eastern Spain, in the northern part of the Murcia region. In 1989 – more than a century after it devastated most of Europe’s vineyards - the root louse phylloxera vastatrix finally arrived in Jumilla. As phylloxera spread, grapevines succumbed, and Jumilla's growers had to make some hard choices. Many growers chose to replant with Monastrell, a native grape particularly suited to the region's drought-prone climate.  Others diversified, planting a wide range of foreign grape varieties, such as Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

A sumptuous blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Petit Verdot, Goru Jumilla (822429) $17.50 is aged in American oak for 4 months.  This is a generous, powerful and inviting red, rich with aromas and flavours of jammy blueberries, dusty blackberries, spicy cloves and sweet sprinklings of vanilla and caramel.

 

Situated on the sunny Mediterranean coast, Valencia is better known for its seafood and oranges. Young winemakers and modern techniques are turning that perception on its head. Hammeken Cellars was established in 1996 to introduce the world to the grape varietals that have deep roots in the history of Spain.

From Hammeken’s wide portfolio Radio Boka Tempranillo (760876) $39.70 for a 3L bag-in-a-box is a mouthful of sunny Valencia fruit. Aromas and flavours of juicy ripe strawberry and succulent dark cherries finish with lingering hints of sweet, spicy cinnamon and vanilla. Great wine from a bag-in-a-box!

 

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