On Marginality

by Charlie Leary
In the early 1990s, I tried growing wine grapes in Louisiana, near the Mississippi border. As I recall, Ruby Cabernet, the cross developed in 1936, was among the selected varieties....

Wine’s Next Big Thing

by Andy Neather
Not long after the Millennium, I lifted a glass of sparkling wine to toast the wedding of two good friends in London. They were both Italophiles and had somewhere managed...

The Rain In Spain

by Tim Atkin
In English, it’s just drizzle. In Spanish, it’s more graphic. The literal translation of “calabobos” is something that soaks fools. Rather than a downpour – the sort of weather that...
93

2019 Pepe Mendoza Mares de Luz Monastrell Monastrell/Giró, Alicante

( £9.75, 14%, The Wine Society )

I have to admit that I did a double take after I’d sampled this wine. £9.75 for something as complex as Pepe Mendoza’s equal blend of Monastrell and Giró? The Wine Society must have made a typo, surely? But that is indeed the price of his stunning cuvée. Somewhere between a northern Rhône Syrah and a high-altitude Spanish Garnacha in style, despite being produced next to the Mediterranean, it’s peppery, spicy and intense, with a hint of oak, wonderful red berry zip and freshness, appealing acidity and fine-grained, stony tannins. Ludicrously good at under £10.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-28Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Spain, Red, Giró, Monastrell
94

2019 Martín Códax Cantigas Albariño, Rías Baixas

( £15.99, 13%, Majestic )

Albariño is fast becoming one of my favourite grapes, not only in its native Portugal and north-west Spain, but in Uruguay and Argentina too. It’s a variety that’s drinkable young but ages really well too. This wine from Katia Álvarez and Martín Códax is a single vineyard expression that looks as good it tastes. Tangy, crisp and wonderfully focused, with citrus, green apple and sea salt flavours, wonderful texture and enduring palate length. Seafood heaven.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-26Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Spain, White, Albariño
92

2018 El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Garnacha, Navarra

( £10.99, or £7.99 each for six, 15%, Majestic )

Tempranillo may be Spain’s best known red grape, but Garnacha is just as interesting and much better suited to climate change. This is an amazing, old-vine example from Bodegas Nekeas in Navarra that shows the variety at its great value best. Perfumed and enticing, with notes of wild herbs, raspberry and redcurrant, a hint of oak and some underlying savoury tannins. So well balanced that you don’t notice the 15% alcohol.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Grenache

On The Road Again

by Tim Atkin
After 18 months of Zoom calls, Instagram Lives and home tastings, of Coravin capsules, small samples and endless recycling bags, I finally got to visit a wine region two weeks...
93

2019 Altolandon Mil Historias Bobal Organic Wine, Manchuela

( £10.99-£12.95, 14%, Bush Vines, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Hay Wines, Kwoff, other stockists from Alliance Wine )

Here’s a paradox: Bobal is Spain’s second most planted red grape, but doesn’t have much of an image outside the country. Maybe that’s starting to change, thanks to wines like this one from the talented Roselia Molina in the high-altitude Manchuela appellation, where she makes a range of low-intervention reds and whites from organically farmed vineyards at 1,100 metres. Wonderfully peppery, juicy and fresh with amazing vibrancy, plum, wild strawberry and black cherry fruit and a long, zingy finish. Stunning value at around £12.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Bobal

How Democratic Is Rioja?

by Tim Atkin
Imagine being a voter in Liverpool Walton or South Holland and the Deepings. In the first of these constituencies, the Labour Party received 86% of the ballot in the last...
94

2019 Verum Las Tinadas Airén de Pie Franco, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla

( £25, 12%, The Great Wine Co )

Grown on its own roots, organically farmed and fermented and aged in traditional clay pots, or tinadas, this is an old-vine wine that could almost give the normally bland, good-for-distillation-but-not-a-lot-else Airén a good name. It’s a brilliant white from Elías López Montero, the subject of one my recent #corktalk podcasts incidentally,  showing notes of pear, orange zest and citrus, with creamy lees, wonderful texture and a taut, refreshing finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £25-30, 90-94, Spain, White, Airén

The Wisdom Of Age

by Tim Atkin
Call it serendipity, call it fate, but there are times when events and conversations seem to align. You go for months without thinking about something and then it’s everywhere, filling...
90

2019 Artuke Rioja, Rioja

( £12.50; £10.95 by the case, 13.5%, Lea & Sandeman )

Always one of Rioja’s great bargains, this wonderfully juicy cuvée of Tempranillo and 5% Viura from brothers Arturo and Kike de Miguel is a classic carbonic maceration style that dates back to the 19th century and was popularised by the so-called “cosecheros”. Showing masses of perfume, it’s a tangy, crunchy, cement-fermented delight that combines perfume with vibrant summer berry fruit. Unwooded Rioja at its individual best.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Spain, Red, Tempranillo, Viura