Few countries can rival Spain for its breadth and diversity of wine styles, and even fewer can compete on value. From sparkling wine to Sherry, and everything in between, Sarah Jane Evans MW picks out her favourites, from just £6 / $8 per bottle.
Scroll down for Sarah Jane Evans’ 30 great value Spanish wines
Spain is a fascinating country for wine. The millennia of winemaking, the exceptionally diverse geography and its economic and cultural history all make it a great source of discovery. Add in the new generation, starting afresh with family vineyards or tracking down abandoned sites, and there is so much to like.
Choosing just 30 wines for this article has been hard! I narrowed my selection down to cover as many different regions as possible and as many different styles.
First, some essentials for the fridge: a bottle of Cava or traditional-method sparkling, a rosado, and a white or two. I can already guarantee there’s fino or manzanilla at home, so I have included another, more complex Sherry. Then I’ve added something quirky for my husband and I to enjoy which I know may not appeal to all my friends; some classics for comfort – for memories of times when I have enjoyed them before; and some ‘little brother’ wines – the cheaper version of grander wines that my weekday wallet doesn’t stretch to.
When I am looking for great value, then Garnachas from Campo de Borja and its neighbours in Aragón come top of the list.
However, I recognise that my good deals are damaging growers’ livelihoods. Spain still sells too much of its wine too cheaply in bulk to France and elsewhere, and as consumers we need to be willing to pay more for quality.
I return to Rioja regularly, but remember that Rioja is like Bordeaux – there are many producers and not all of them are perfect. Read recommendations, go to tastings, talk to retailers and find the ones you like. As for whites, Mediterranean Spain is particularly interesting, with complex, textured wines from Garnacha Blanca.
Finally, the people are as important as the wines in Spain. Among the producers on the following pages, there’s an expert on orange wines and a great cook too (Rafa Bernabé); an ever-innovative family that drives you around in electric cars (Torres); a thoughtful, quiet man making top-scoring wines (Marcos Eguren of Sierra Cantabria); and another who makes his wine in sight of the sea (Chicho Moldes of Bodegas Fulcro).
All of the producers I’ve featured welcome visitors, though you will need to make prior appointments. I urge you to meet them and their wines, and to savour the sense of place.