Best Spanish Wine under 10 Euros – 2014 Ranking

The world of Spanish wine has kept us busy, and sometimes even life gets in the way of writing about good wine. Our apologies to our loyal readers for the lack of blog entries over the past 12 months.

Mariano Fisac has ran again the successful “Best Spanish wine under 10 Euros” competition. This year it had a slightly different formatwhile all producers were invited to submit any wine that met the requirement, a panel of experts also submitted bottles based on their own personal tastes

A total of 50 wines were submitted via both routes to a blind tasting panel of experty s, bloggers, and consumers which ranked all wines. Bottles and labels were disguised in true blind tasting fashion.

This year the panel used a slightly unusual criteria: for each and any of the wines, they were asked :

“How much would you pay for a bottle of this wine?”

The final ranking is therefore looking at which wine gives the best value for money. The greater the [positive] difference between the actual retail price and the price the panellists were willing to pay, the better. The ranking was then drawn by adding the differences between the price the panel was willing to pay and their actual retail price, and wines were ranked from top to bottom. 

No matter what some D.O.s may have been thumping on in press releases, the reality is that the 2013 vintage wasn’t the best for some Spanish wine regions, and the ranking does reflect that somehow. There are some real gems in here, so go out and fetch a bottle or two. 

In tenth place, a new entrant. It reflects a growing trend in the world of Spanish wine. This is a wine made by the Envínate group who are committed in their revolutionary work of finding terroirs that can be expressed in an environmentally-friendly way, wines that are also fresh and easy drinking. The grape variety is Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante BouschetCarignan Jeune), which has in the past been less regarded and relegated to mass production in the La Mancha region, or merely used to add colour to wines. This producer gets the best out of it with care and respect, giving a fresh, genuine, tasty wine with a great potential for food pairing. It is called Albahara 2013

In ninth place a daring and radical Rioja. With a personality that didn’t leave any panel member indifferent. We wouldn’t call it a modern Rioja, though. Despite its volume and intensity, brings out the tradition of village wine, thirst quenching but loyal to its geographical origins and terroir. All grapes are organically grown and islargely Tempranillo based with a tiny bit of Viura. The whole package is rounded by a fresh and amusing label design and bottle presentation. This wine is ideal for aunexpected present. Named Malaspiedras (literally, bad stones)is produced by Bodegas Compañón Arrieta en Lanciego, Rioja Alavesa. Bring a bottle of two of this to a dinner party and you will grab everyone’s attention. 

In eighth place, an albariño shows up for the first timeThe albariño grape, when used honestly and without further manipulation, always outperforms rivals in blind tasting events due its intensity, terroir and freshness. 
There is not much that hasn’t been said about Bodegas Zárate already, as it is one of the big names in quality Rias Baixas wines. Their bigger brothers, Zarate’s grand cuvées such as “El Palomar” or our favourite “Tras da Viñaare well known and spoken about globally. But Zarate lives to its reputation too with this submission: their exceptionally good basic wine. It will start to give its best from next year onwards. We recommend you stock up on Zárate 2013, as we suspect this wine won’t last for long on shelves. 

In seventh place, another new entrant. Jesús M. Recueroof a long lineage of local winemakers. He is the songrandson & great grand-son of a winemaker. He works out of the remote area of Sierra de Gatabidding his time. He has been working at restoring soils and vines in Villamiel in the middle of Extremadura, that sleeping giant regionThe vineyard is pepper-potted by olive trees, heather and rockrose plants, which flow through the wine. It is called Antier and is a blend of old vine grapestinta fina (Tempranillo)piñuelo (Grenache) y rufeta (he believes is a variety of Grenache), all vinified right in the vineyard. It has a Mediterranean soul to it, but also reminds you of some of the great wines from south Portugal. great find

In sixth place, we kept on being surprised in this rankingThis little gem coming out of a tiny town in Férez (Albacete). Organic Bobal and monastrell grapes. There were just about 6 barrels made, full of fruit flavours. The wine is Lacerta 2012 , produced by Bodegas Lazotheir exclusive distributor is Ezequiel Sánchez Mateosthe terroir-hunter that can be found in Reserva y CataIt is a massive find with an excellent value for money. 

In fifth place another newcomer. We are not aware of the reasons why the D.O. Rias Baixas rejected this exceptional Albariño so it doesn’t carry its D.O. seal. We would want to hope that the fact has done so well in our ranking would be noticed by those in charge of that decision. 

For the rest of us, this Dena wine is a clear example of the most mineral albariñoversión, the Meaño cru over granite soilsHalf of it spent 5 months in oak barrels, the rest of it aged in inox tanks. The blend results in a vibrant wine full of character that took the panel’s heart. The wine is called Pescuda 2013 and is made by the Moldesfamily, which we have seen in the ranking other years with the other wine Finca APedreiraIf you manage to get hold of any of it, grab it quickly as there is very limited produce. 

In fourth place, probably not a surprise to anyone that has been following XurxoAlba and the wines that he keeps on crafting year on year. Xurxo Alba was the winer in 2012 with his now cult status Albamar 2011. Panel members may have changed, but his wines never leave anyone indifferent. The waves, algae, sea aromas are so distinct. If you want to show someone how a certain area expresses itself through an albariño grapeAlbamar 2013 is a fine exampleAnd it is very good wine too!

 As we approach the critical podium area, something unexpected in third place. It is a wine that comes from the efforts and love for an area by a priest, a hotelier and a farmer. Through respect and integrated viticulture they have brought up this Txacolia few notches above the rest. This is far from your average thin Txacoli, it is full of minerality, tension and flavour. It has great potential for food pairing and opens a new door for wines of Atlantic character. This is Txacolí Uno 2013 produced byGoianea.

In second place, one of the usual suspects year on year. This year has deservingly achieved its highest position in the ranking. A single-vineyard wine, of delicate and Burgundian character despite each vintage’s own peculiarities. This 2013 is a delicate poem of balsamic and distinction. Not recommended for those loving concentration and tannins. Despite not having had any oak-barrel aging, keeps and evolves very well in bottle, so don’t be afraid of getting a whole box and enjoy it as it ages with you.  The wine is Viña Regueiral 2013.

And finally, there can only be one. In first place which makes it the overall winner for the 2014 Ranking, the wine that left the panel speechless. 

It is a Moscatel, but its most complex, balanced and sensual variety. It is made in Chiclana (Cadiz) and had managed at last to place Andalusian wines where they deserve in the ranking. A ridiculously low price for this great sweet wine given everything it has to offer (a wine of this quality would be priced five times more if it was made in Germany or Hungary). A well deserving winner for the 2014 Ranking: Collantes Moscatel Oro "Los Cuartillos".

Lastly, we would like to say thank you to all that in one shape of form have made the ranking possiblespecially to many producers whose wines have almost made it to the list bar a few decimal points. We frown upon other rankings where gold awards are dished by the hundreds, which we believe kind of removes the value in having a ranking in the first place. 

Our approach to highlight the best of the best only allows for 10 wines to make it to the list, which makes others unfortunate “collateral damages”. We do know and regret that otherwise fantastic wines haven’t made it to the list, and we would like to encourage those that didn’t make it to keep up the good work.

Winegossip of Spain will be publishing individual entries for each and any of the wines with more detailed descriptions of those wines as well as detailed tasting notes over the next few weeks.



Top Ten Spanish Wines 2013

Here we are, once again, presenting the top ten Spanish wines under 10 euros, chosen in a blind tasting by a panel of oenologists, wine producers, wine distributors, wine journalists, bloggers and wine aficionados.

Everyone in the panel had to rank all wines without knowledge of what they were drinking. All labels were removed and all bottles disguised. None of the producers who sent the samples paid to be part of the ranking. No panel members were paid, and if they happen to blind taste their “own” wines during the ranking (as oenologist/producers), those specific scores were taken out.

Our objective was clear: to find and promote wines with an excellent price-quality relationship. Wines that are within reach of the expert consumer that is looking for something new to try, as well as to the general public looking for a good bottle.
The Ranking
In No. 10 is a wine that marks the return of the fruity and lingering taste to the Ribera del Duero region. I won't bother introducing Germán R. Blanco at this point, as he needs no introductions. The wine speaks by itself and as they say in Burgundy, you can always recognize the best producers through their basic wines. The wine is Quinta Milú 2012, Ribera del Duero.
In No 9. , as all followers of this of this young competition will attest by now, Spain's most popular variety of grape is always present in our top ten. A grape that, far from being the preserve of cheap ordinary plonk, has shown in recent years that in the right hands it can produce some really sublime wines. Of course, we are talking about the Grenache grape variety. This wine comes from Calatayud and is called Misticos 2011
In No 8 is a wine that already finds itself among the classic contenders in this list and is always among the big players. This  is no doubt down to its high quality, drinkability and above all its ability to show the true character of the Ribeira Sacra in each and every glass. This is one of the mainstays of the national scene, and a variety that has a bright future in Spanish wine. This is a real, undiluted Mencia: Viña Regueiral 2012.
No 7 was a big surprise. As this was selected in blind tasting by a panel, I know that I should not talk about personal experiences, but I feel I really must highlight a visit to this producer given how enriching I found the experience, and for the sheer excitement I got from hearing and seeing his work. The man is Alberto Nanclares, an authentic wine maker with a touch of hippie about him, who settled in Rias Baixas to make some truly memorable whites. His entry level wine, Tempus Vivendi 2012, is a precise, sharp and very tasty Albarino.
In No 6 is a wine that was meant to make into the top ten. Xurxo Alba’s Albarinos are among the very best Spanish whites of 2011. Despite being Albarinos, the wines held until their second year to show their very best, and no taster could fail to note the salinity, earthiness and algae that make this wine so authentic and characteristic. Last year’s wine was the winner in 2012 list, this year we are talking about Albamar 2012.
In No. 5, in the very middle of the league, I am pleased that it has found its place the variety that put 20th century Spanish wines firmly in the world scene. We are of naturally talking about Rioja. The Spanish wine scene owes so much to Rioja, and as in the D.O. regulator would say when you find one as authentic as this, its always going to be a hit. The charming oenologist David Sampedro has managed to extract from the 2008 vintage all the classicism, finesse and complexity of a Rioja reserva: one wine that expresses this perfectly is the Marques de Closa 2008.
In No. 4 is German R. Blanco again. This time we travel from the Ribera del Duero region to the outer limits of El Bierzo region. Due to boundary lines and the use of the veteran Cabernet Sauvignon vines it can not claim the Bierzo DO though.. This wine, warrior-like and wild, shows us just how well the Mencia grape, when combined with the historical Burdeaux variety, can work. Without losing any of their identity, the two varieties come together to show just what the high and poor lands of the northwest can offer. A wine that keeps growing in the bottle and gives you so much to talk about: Altos de San Esteban 2010.
In No. 3 we move from the Bierzo region to find a Mencia wine that returns to the list once again and has even managed to climb a few places since last time (it was 10th last year). This is another winery that I have had the pleasure of following over the last few years and have been able to observe the exponential growth in the quality of its fantastic wines. The influence of Raul Perez is still highly visible in here, but as with all the projects that he is involved with, Pablo Frias’ talent, knowledge and expertise begins to show up in wines like this Tilenus Roble 2010.
In No. 2, an artisan made wine, virtually unknown that is both highly promising and incredibly exciting, gatecrashes the list once again to claim one of the top spots. The Moldes family is back with its 2012 vintage, even finer than last year, more vibrant and more explosive than ever. The packaging has also been given a simple but beautiful face lift. This poorest of vineyards - old, full of sand and pebbles, treated with loving care but with minimal interference - has lots of great things to say, like this Finca A Pedreira 2012. If this wine keeps on improving at this rate, it will soon be making history.
The winner is one of those wines that vindicates in us the organiser spent all these hours in front of the keyboard, and even longer time in front of a wine glass. David Sampedro and Bruno Murciano revive and bring dignity back to the local unknown Bobal grape and demonstrate that some truly fine things can be done with it, such as this wine with its groundbreaking presentation, intimate nose and unsettling, fresh and silky taste. This is a wine that is thirst quenching, refreshing and enjoyable, but at the same time never fails to show off its origins and tipicity, showing off clearly about the land from where it came from. The winner this year is La Malkerida Bobal 2012.
Dear friends, that is just about it. I hope you get to try all these wines in your local bars or at the dinner table. They won’t disappoint.

So, finally, the Ranking of Best Spanish Wines under 10 Euros for 2013 is...

1. La Malkerida Bobal 2012, Bobal, Utiel-Requena
2. Finca A Pedreira 2012, Albarino, Rias Baixas
3. Tilenus Roble 2012, Mencia, Bierzo
4. Altos de San Esteban 2010, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mencia, V.T. Castilla y Leon
5. Marqués de Closa 2008, Reserva, Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano, Rioja
6. Albamar 2012, Albarino, Rias Baixas
7. Tempus Vivendi 2012, Albarino, Rias Baixas
8. Viña Regueiral 2012, Mencia, Ribeira Sacra
9. Místicos 2011, Grenache, Calatayud
10. Quinta Milu 2012, Tinta Fina, Ribera del Duero


Capricho de Merenzao 2010

Producer: Ponte da Boga
Wine Name: Capricho de Merenzao
Type: Red
Wine Region/ Appellation Ribeira Sacra
Vintage: 2010
Grape varieties: 85% Merenzao, 5% Brancellao, 5% Sousón, 5% Mencía
Alcohol: 14,5 %
Guide Price: 25 €

Our Rating: +++++^ (5+)

About the area

See this previous post about Ribeira Sacra in here.

About the wine

The Ponte da Boga winery is located in Terra de Caldelas, an area with privileged varieties of wine with a very long history, as they were reported to be enjoyed by Roman emperors. The team is led by the talented and much awarded Dominique Roujou de Boubée.

Several « cuvées » are made. There is one white wine as well as several reds using traditional grapes from the region: Mencía, Merenzao, Brancellao, Sousón for red and Godello, Albariño and Doña Blanca for white.

On September 16th, 2010, there was something of an unusual vintage. The Merenzao - a grape variety in Ribeira Sacra, was picked  and 85% of the wine's coupage consists of this varietal. Two days later the Mencia grape (5%) was picked. Finally, the Brancellao grapes (5%) and Sousón (5%) completed the picture. The Sousón varietal, despite arriving last, its low percentage and its long cycle, gives the harvest its own terroir, instead of using chemicals.
Following 10 days of fermentation and a not too long a maceration, 60% of the wine is aged in used French oak barrels and the rest is kept in stainless steel tanks for a total of 10 months.

Tasting Notes

A promising low robe of purples and browns. Expressive, intense in the nose, with a hint of wild notes that disappear with aeration, giving way to aromas of dried blueberry, storm, wet earth, fern, and thyme.
Sharp and airy in the palate with very good acidity. Lightweight tannins, easy but thick, which give it a more smoky taste in the mouth (maybe the sousón variety?). Let down by its acidity and alcohol as they are less well integrated (?).Overall it is tasty and fruity, with a discerning glimpse of raw wine material. It has the Atlantic soil and character. It has a ripe and spicy finish thanks to its typicality, but with the St Joseph’s region style, lustrous and very pleasant.
It currently lacks time in bottle in order to add an even wilder taste, but I think there is good quality in here and lots of it.
The first thing that comes to mind with this wine is to have lamprey Bordeaux-style; its acidity would contend with the fat of the small fish and the stew would fuse with the wine’s spicy finish.

Unfortunately, are not in lamprey season at present and since there is no other dish that can be compared to it, I recommend any pork dish. A Terrine would be perfect. A robust pasta dish, puttanesca style, wouldn't be bad either.


Jardín de Lúculo: Los Bohemios 2012

Producer: Bodegas El Jardín de Lúculo
Wine Name: Los Bohemios
Type: Red
Wine Region/ Appellation: Navarra
Vintage: 2012
Grape varieties: 100% Garnacha (Grenache)
Alcohol: 13,5 %
Guide Price: 9 €

Our Rating: ++++ (4)

About the area

The Navarra denomination is an exceptional location, virtually unique in the Iberian peninsula as it becomes the confluence of the Atlantic, Continental and Mediterranean climates present elsewhere in the peninsula. Its proximity to the Bay of Biscay, the influence of the Pyrenees mountain range and the temperate influence from the Ebro valley are the key factors that give Navarra its unique range of different climates.

The last two decades have seenongoing changes in the wine-making sector in Navarra.

Firstly, in the eighties, non-native varieties were introduced such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These varieties started to be grown alongside the native Viura, Tempranillo and Garnacha (the latter being the most widely grown and most popular variety in the area); these are international varieties that are well suited to the region which, whilst not neglecting the enduring potential of the traditional grapes, aided the development of new wine styles.

Now Garnacha is key to the Navarra fine wines and their “terroir”.

About the wine

At the heart of the project was the restoration of old Garnacha vines grown in the traditional goblet system. Key to the changes in the Navarra wine scene has been the conservation and recovery of old vineyards.

The producer has 21 select vineyards, small plots in the municipalities of Artazu , Mañeru , Cirauqui and Adiós.

The average vine age is well over 60 years old and have been selected and cared for during years by Rafael San Martin, a traditional winemaking enthusiast who has collected them over the years.

All of them grow Garnacha following organic farming techniques. Harvest takes place in October. The must is then fermented in large cement tanks, where it rests all winter. Then is stabilized and bottled. Naturally we are this is a young wine.

Tasting Notes

Intense red, showing violet reflections. Ripe fruity nose, predominantly red fruit (redcurrant). Banana. Sponge cake. Violet sweets.

Fresh and soft in the mouth. Thin tannins. Spicy. Easy-drinking. It shows elegant notes of bitterness, reminds one of cocoa. Not very long finish, but fine and pleasant.

I love this Grenache wines with soft goat cheese, and also with “piquillo” peppers, served warm with garlic and virgin olive oil.