Rioja isn’t the only game in town when looking for under $20 Spanish red wines. Ribera del Duero is an elegant and powerful red wine, comprised mostly of Tempranillo but often blended with Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a small percentage of Garnacha. These deeply-colored wines, with complex aromas and firm tannins, have received a lot of press recently, recognized as Wine Enthusiast’s 2012 Wine Region of the Year.
Priorat is a powerful, intense red wine, made with mostly old-vine Garnacha blended with Cariñena. It ranks high in quality, being one of only two DOCa in Spain, with Rioja the only other region awarded this highest level of wine classification. Concentrated, mineral-tinged wines, they will take your breath away.
Spain has many indigenous grape varietals that make intriguing, value-priced wines, such as the Mencia grape from Bierzo.
Here are a few high quality red wines from Spain that pair well with red meat and rich comfort food:
1) 2011 Finca Villacreces “Pruno” Ribera del Duero, 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, is full-bodied and concentrated, with aromas of blackberries, espresso, licorice, cassis, and forest floor, with an edge of cedar from French oak, and just squeaking in under $20.
2) 2010 Celler de Capcanes “Mas Donis” Barrica Montsant, 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah, is rich, vibrant, mineral, and surprisingly complex, with a medium plus body, and raspberry jam, rose petals, crushed rocks, spring flowers, and kirsch. Coming in at $10, this wine is another one to stock up on.
3) 2004 Bodegas Fernandez “Escudo de Plata” Gran Reserva Jumilla is a mature red wine, with a complex bouquet of dried red fruits, herbs, cinnamon, spice cake, and vanilla with a whiff of flowers. A smooth wine on the palate, with raspberry and cherry flavors, it drinks like a traditional Rioja for $17.
4) 2011 Descendientes de Jose Palacios “Petalos” Bierzo, 95% Mencia and 5% field grapes, is very aromatic, with notes of violets, blueberries and licorice. It has medium body, good acidity, with strawberry fruit, spice, and well integrated oak. This wine is widely available, at $20 a bottle.
Curl up with a glass of Spanish red wine, and let its Mediterranean warmth fill you with joy. With so many choices under $20, they make interesting drinking and are easy on the wallet. Enjoy the season of the red!