Arguably the most exciting wines the orld, Spanish drops offer a variety of styles with bold intensity, writes Master of Wine at Langton’s Ned Goodwin.
Mar 16, 2023 1:00am
I was speaking to a dear friend over the summer break, an importer and specialist of Spanish wines from as far afield as Catalonia, Galicia, Andalusia and the fashionable Gredos. After working for eons with French wines, he expressed his enthusiasm for all things Spanish, an exciting wine culture set in motion by the transition to democracy in 1975, following the passing of Franco. While certain bastions of Old World propriety remain, the country strides toward a society free of the bureaucratic paper shuffling and pompous anachronisms that mar other wine cultures close by.
Spain has learnt from a past, long stifled by autocratic grappling, to become a symbol of free-thinking optimism. It possesses a contagious energy and level of laissez-faire creativity that transcends its illustrious neighbours. With that, Spanish wines have followed in the wake of the country’s culinary ascendancy. While Italy is the most diverse wine culture on earth and France’s wines are some of the most venerated, Spain’s offerings are the most exciting. It is just a shame more are not available on our shores.
As a side note, many Spanish wines serve as a stepping stone for the Australian drinker to the more structured, savoury idiom of Old World styles. This is because they hail from warm to hot climates, not dissimilar to many here. Subsequently, intense fruit flavours and fuller bodied styles are easy to come by. The wines featured here reflect Spain’s broad palette of styles, as well as a contemporary approach to instilling freshness and drinkability at large. I’ve also thrown in an Iberian-inspired local for good measure, such is the synergy between our ways of life.
2020 Rafael Palacios As Sortes Godello, Valdeorras, $125
Minerality: a marketing trope, a vacuous ode to romance, or a singsong? Don’t be jaded! Here is your passport to sentient nirvana. Atlantic Galicia. Inland and high. Godello grapes, perched amid vertiginous ravines, granitic, slippery and wet. Electricity in the mouth. Saline, saliva-sucking and memorable. Believe!
2019 Artadi Vinas de Gain, Rioja, $60
It would be churlish to eschew Rioja, among the world’s most famous wines. A lighter shade to tempranillo, sourced from old vines at 450 to 750 metres. Top producer. Tingly red fruits, French oak and strident grape tannins, alloyed and classy.
2020 Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache, McLaren Vale, $70
Grenache is the most exciting variety in Australia – and this is perhaps the finest expression. An apotheosis of transparency, red fruits, pomegranate and the exotica of a Moroccan souk, inspired by contemporary Spain. Pinot meets the Mediterranean.
MORE TOP WINE PICKS TO BUY
Delamotte Champagne NV, $75
Situated in the renowned Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a Grand Cru dedicated to Chardonnay, Delamotte is marked by a discretion as much as a latent power, hewn of chalk soils and the pungent mineral forcefield they impart. A wine of creamy depth and ample toastiness.
2019 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz, $135
A sumptuous Australian archetype, confident of its place in the pecking order while finding favour with drinkers interested in textural persuasion over obvious power. An outlier in the Penfolds stable, with no new oak. Better to liberate folds of spice, soy and liquorice strap.
2019 Chateau Latour à Pomerol, $185
This burr of merlot and cabernet franc remains close to my heart given the tear-inducing quality of the ’61, among the finest wines ever tasted. The 2019
is set for a similar trajectory. Expect flecks of plum and sage amid a framework of sinuous tannins draped with graphite.