Spain is one of the most exciting countries in the world today for wine lovers. The changes that have taken place over a generation are immense but, because most customers haven’t yet realised how much Spanish wines have improved, prices are still very reasonable for the quality. And it’s not just the traditional favourites like Rioja and sherry (good though they still are), but everywhere you look, there are dedicated, skilled winemakers making appealing wines, many using little-known native grape varieties.
So, when the super, friendly Library Wine Bar on Bristol’s Cheltenham Road decided to hold a Spanish wine tasting recently (accompanied by a selection of their own tapas, of course), I was keen to join in. The evening was hosted by Diego and Bea of Iberian Drinks, who specialise in importing wines from small-scale, often organic, producers from all over Spain (plus a few from Portugal, too). And they have certainly found some winners; here are my highlights:
A beautifully clean, bone dry Cava from El Celleret (£13.40) was a perfect start to the evening. Cava is often seen as Champagne’s poor relation, but not here; this was really light, delicate and moreish. A pair of contrasting whites from one of my favourite wine regions, Gallicia, followed – Alter (£14.20), a fragrant, refreshing blend of local grapes Treixadura and Godello and the richer, more complex 7 Cepas Alboriño (£13.20).
Spain is, perhaps, better-known for its reds and particularly, Rioja. But a rather unusual example was on show here. Viña Santurnia (£10.65) is made in the style of a Beaujolais – light, fruity and very drinkable, even chilled. Altogether more serious was the smoky, black-fruited Lavia (£14.25) from Bullas in the hills of Murcia – perfect with some slow cooked lamb, I’d suggest.
We finished with a selection of fortified wines and liqueurs. I loved the wonderfully clean, delicately sweet Moscatel from Bodegas Alvear (£9.50). A really lively and entertaining evening with some outstanding wines. Even the two delightful Spanish ladies we shared a table with were impressed!
All the wines mentioned are available locally in Viandas Spanish Deli on Park Row.