Colchester Gazette Astute Wine Club

I’m constantly impressed by the sheer variety and quality of wine coming out of Spain these days. The time when all you could find on the wine merchants’ shelves were Sherry and Rioja are long gone and regions such as Rueda, Ribera del Duero and Jumilla are producing world class wines that are definitely worth a punt. It may come as a surprise but Spain has the largest area of vineyard of any country in the world (just over a million hectares – about 14% of the total) and its production of wine lies third after France and Italy. No wonder then that there is such a wealth of wine to be explored. I’ve found a couple of great value examples to recommend; a complex, white Verdejo and a ripe, warming Monastrell.

Rueda lies on the Duero river, north-west of Madrid and until quite recently has been a well kept secret; about 85% of its mostly white wine is consumed in Spain. However, with better marketing and a growing number of ‘flying winemakers’ attracted to the region word is spreading and some beautiful wine is finding its way over to these shores. ‘Naia’ from Bodegas Naia is one such. It is pure Verdejo, Rueda’s star grape variety and has all the tell-tale qualities in abundance: aromas of honeysuckle, peach and grapefruit with zesty acidity and a herbaceous tang on the finish. The 2011 is £8.99 (normally £10.55) and while cheaper verdejos can be found, this one is really terrific value.

Just west of Alicante on Spain’s east coast is the region of Jumilla, and here the Monastrell (Mourvedre in France) is king. Its history goes back at least as far as Roman times and it is ideally suited to the parched, arid landscape. Bodegas Juan Gil have produced a scrumptious, and organic red wine from the 2011 vintage – ‘Honoro Vera’, wild, red berry aromas with rich and concentrated plummy flavours and a hint of spice with enough tannin to give a well structured wine. A bargain currently at £5.85 to Astute members, normally £6.59.

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