Everyone loves a great value, right? No reason why you can’t find them in wine as well, but it can be tricky picking out that great wine on a wine list for $8, in addition to finding that under $20 gem in the retail shop.
This is when I look to the Iberian Peninsula – aka – Spain and Portugal. These two nations have been producing wines for centuries and have certainly been gaining more speed over the past decade. More importers have discovered producers in these countries and many at unbelievable prices. Wines from Spain and Portugal are generally crowd pleasing and fun.
Iberian whites tend to be aromatic and crisp, and the blends from the Vinho Verde region or the Spanish Txakolinas can have a slight fizziness to them that just dance on your palate screaming for another sip. Iberian reds are generally juicy with mild tannins, making them rather versatile. In the region of Rioja and the Ribera del Duero, “old school” producers like to age their wines in American Oak. Not really my style, but there has been a growth in producers using French Oak.
Here are some of my top picks (in no particular order) to help you get familiarized with Iberian wines, and ones that may just become your “everyday” wine.
- Herdade do Rocim ‘Goivo,’ Vinho Verde – $12 – An amazingly refreshing white wine that is a perfect aperitif, especially on hot summer days. Bursting with citrus notes of lemon, lime, and tangerine, this wine will pair perfectly with a summer salad or fish cooked in a butter sauce. At 9.5% alcohol, you can have a glass or two on a lazy afternoon and not feel guilty.
- Camino Roca Altxerri, Getariako Txakolina – $17 – Who cares if you can’t pronounce it, but you can for sure drink it! It’s becoming harder to find a Txakolina under $20 retail, but Roca Altxerri is certainly one of the best values from this region in the Basque country. Bone dry, yet oozing with melons, citrus, and a charming minerality that this can be your patio pounder or go-to wine for fish dishes.
- Bodegas Godeval, Godello – $17– Oh I love me a Godello and Bodegas Godeval was the first winery to export Godello into the US. A bit rounder on the palate, this wine packs a punch of beautiful acidity balanced by ripe peaches, citrus, green apples, and a slight ginger note. A very versatile wine that only improves with food.
- Bodegas Shaya Verdejo, Rueda – $14 – A good Verdejo is like a slice of awesome pineapple upside down cake. Shaya is old vine Verdejo, and I’m talking OLD. This wine packs so much in the bottle it makes me want one just for myself. A must for all things shellfish.
- Herdade do Rocim Touriga Nacional, Alentejo – $13 – So yeah, most Portuguese wines are blends, so it’s rather rare to see a single varietal such as this Touriga Nacional. Jancis Robinson once said if you could marry Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc that you would end up with Touriga Nacional. It has the structure and weight of lighter Cabernets with the aromatics of Cabernet Franc. An insane value from this top estate.
- Bodegas Mustiguillo ‘Mestizaje Tinto,’ Vino de España – $16 – This is a red wine to take to a party. You will get family and friends talking as they try to figure out what it is, while gulping every sip. An intoxicating wine that’s a blend of a rare grape known as Bobal. Fleshy with darker fruits and balanced acidity…this might be your every day red wine.
- Altamente Monastrell, Jumilla – $16 – If there were two single varietals I would drink from Spain every day it would be Monatrell and Garnacha. This Monastrell from super old vines (like so old they are Pie Franco) will fill your body with warm and fuzzy feelings of having a slice of grandma’s cherry or blueberry pie.
- Lechuza Garnacha, Cariñena – $10 – You read that right, $10. This wine is insane for that price, you’ll never ever find anything close to this in value from California. As I said, my other favorite varietal from Spain is Garnacha (aka Grenache). I love it because it’s high in acid and so versatile! This wine is loaded with plush fruit and beautiful floral components. Take this one to a party and nobody will ever believe what you paid for it.