Spain is the world’s 3rd largest wine producer (after France and Italy) and is home to some great native grape varieties as well as a host of innovative and dedicated winemakers. I’ve blogged before about how you can find delicious bargains in some of Spain’s ‘Hidden Corners’, but it would be a serious mistake to ignore the wines of her flagship region, Rioja. Standards there are high wherever you look – so much so that you could almost pick up a bottle at random and be fairly sure of finding something enjoyable.
Of course, if you do so, it’s most likely to be red – more than 8 out of every 10 bottles from Rioja are – and made using Tempranillo, Garnacha – aka Grenache – and possibly some other less well-known varieties. But there’s also some white produced – at one time rather dull and heavy but, these days, much fresher, more subtly oaked (if at all) and often delicious.
And then there’s Rosado (the Spanish name for rosé). I opened a really drinkable bottle from long-established producer, Muga, recently (widely available for about £9).
A blend of 3 grapes: the red varieties Garnacha and Tempranillo as above and one white, Viura. It was dry, clean and beautifully refreshing – ideal at this time of year – with a lovely smoky edge to it; delicious on its own (perhaps with an olive or two to nibble alongside) but with enough weight to match with a range of dishes – we found it a perfect cooling foil to a mildly spicy root vegetable curry, but I can also see it going well with smoked fish or charcuterie.
After a period in the doldrums, rosés in all styles and from all over the world are seeing a resurgence but, for me, the dry style, of which this Rioja is a great example, is the way forward.