Spain (for centuries a large producer of mostly unexciting wine) has positioned itself as the go-to category for value wine.
Spanish Viticulture started with the Phoenicians, about 1100 B.C., excepting the large 700 year interruption during Moorish rule. The re-emergence of quality Spanish wine started in the 1960’s and really took off in the 1980’s as major appellations and the explosion of Cava and Albarino came into being.
When you add the classic wine producing regions (Rioja, Ribera del Duero for Reds and Sherry from Jerez) to the newer, up and coming regions, you find a complete catalog of quality and value conscious wines from Spain.
The major grapes of Spain were not the usual international varieties that Americans recognized in the market, which hindered the rise of Spanish wine for a time. The marketing campaign from Freixnet in the 1970’s really kick-started the Cava category in the US. Suddenly, Americans thought of something other than Sangria when it came to Spanish wine. As Cava made its advances into this country, other regions saw more interest in Spanish Wine as a whole.
Today’s wine buyer is more savvy and more price/quality conscious. Spain excels in this category as the majority of its wines compare favorably to their counterparts in France, Italy and California.
The rise of California wines over the past 30 years comes with a steady rise in price as well. Quality California varietals now start at $20. Bordeaux and Burgundy can be even more expensive.
The mid range level of wines are dwindling from these areas, creating a nice big hole for Spain to slip into. Juicy medium bodied Riojas and Jumillas can be had easily for $10-$15, white wines from Rueda for $8 – $12, Monsant, Toro, Ribera del Duero provide big, fleshy wines for a fraction of the price of Napa cabernets and Bordeaux.
Even in the bigger price points Spain excels; Small production releases from Marques de Caceras, Persquera, and Bodegas LAN cost between $30-$75 per bottle……Big Boy Napa Cabernet hovers around the $100 range and Grand Cru Bordeaux requires a Home Equity Loan or second mortgage to acquire.
So, my advice to lovers of wines providing excellent “bang for your buck” is to search out the wines of Spain, it’s worth it.
Check out my “wine of the year” for 4 of the last 5 years, Perlat Monsant at $12.99 in the store now. Look out for the new Toro, Bodegas Carthago Lui for $32.99……It will allow you to enjoy big, fleshy, robust wine without dipping into your retirement account.