12/03/2013

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