Just In case you hadn’t heard, we are right in the middle of the second, annual Spanish Wine Week.
This exciting initiative from the Spanish embassy will see numerous tasting and events taking place right across the country all week, including this Thursday night at Smock Alley Theatre, where O’Briens Wine Director, Lynne Coyle MW will be hosting a very special tasting (unfortunately now sold-out) which will include an exciting mix of some of the best new-wave wines, and established classics such as Rioja Gran Reserva.
If you have missed out on this tasting, don’t worry as we still have lots in-store offers on Spanish wines and there will be a great selection of Spanish wines on the tasting table in all our stores this weekend.
To whet your appetite, I have picked out a few of my favourite wines below.
Regular readers will know I have used this forum many times before to highlight the afore-mentioned new-wave wineries, so for today’s selection I have stuck to the classics; Albariño and Rioja.
Grown in the Galicia, the cool and wet north-west corner (known to locals as green Spain) Albariño is without a doubt Spain’s best cool climate white wine.
Owner/winemaker, Jesus Alvarez Otero makes one of our all-time favourite Albariño’s. His crisp refreshing Contrapunto (€12.95 down from €18.45), has attractive pear, peach and lemon fruit but more as there's a chalky mineral streak and a zesty fresh finish. This is just the perfect wine for spring and summer drinking - think sunshine, friends, and seafood Tapas, particularly Pulpo a la Gallega.
One of the finest estates in the Rías Baixas DO, ideally located at Vilanoviña, in the Pontevedra town of Meis, the vineyards benefit from coastal-influences and mineral-rich soils allowing Pazo Señorans to make seriously good Albariño (€18.95 down from €22.95), delicately floral on the nose with hints of lemon and pear. This opens up on the palate to reveal a complex, mineral-driven white with an incredibly long finish. It should go without saying that this wine is the ideal partner for a Seafood Paella.
Rioja has long been one of Ireland’s favourite red wines so, you may know that there are four main categories of Rioja, each with its own distinct flavour profile related to its ageing programme in the winery: These are Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva. I have chosen a Crianza and a Reserva for today’s line-up.
Consistently rated as one of Spain’s greatest producers the Eguren family have revolutionised modern Spanish wine. From their dynamic Riojas at Sierra Cantabria to their highly-regarded Tempranillo from central Spain the range is beyond impressive. Their Crianza (€15.95 down from €17.95) is a wonderfully dark Rioja which, rightly, suggests the fruit will be intense as it's full of juicy blackberry character, with just a whiff of oak. This restrained oak-use makes this wine incredibly when it comes to food matching, working well with everything from cured meats to fillet steak.
An iconic Rioja house, Marqués de Murrieta are among the finest examples of Spain's most celebrated wine region, and their winemaker María Vargas is rightly considered to be one of Spain’s greatest winemakers. María’s greatest obsession is to extract the maximum expression of the region’s ‘terroir’, applying different wine-making techniques according to the variety, vine age, orientation, and the soil, choosing the optimum moment of ripeness of the fruit, as María says herself,
“The hardest thing when making a wine is giving it its own unique personality, and when someone tastes it and can identify it, it makes you very happy.”
María's personality is very much on display in Murrieta's Reserva (€19.95 down from €23.95), which beautifully merges the traditional and the modern; unmistakably Rioja but with wonderfully rich, ripe fruit. This wine would be the perfect choice to serve with char-grilled lamb cutlets.
To top it all off, I should also mention that all the wineries above will be showing their ranges at our Dublin Wine Fair on the 5th & 6th of May.