Spanish wine to savour: Four superb bottles for under €20

John Wilson: These wines made from indigenous grapes offer amazing value

We Irish like Spanish wine. Recent figures show that we are the seventh biggest market in the world for Rioja and the fifth most important for Rías Baixas. Given our relative size, these are impressive statistics. Yet, as a wine lover, my one grumble would be that too many of us still ignore the wealth of amazing wines being produced in every other part of Spain.

Spanish wines have been in a state of flux ever since the country joined the European Union (or the EEC, as it was then) in 1986. At first winemakers tried out the so-called international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Then they fell in love with huge, ripe oaky alcoholic monsters that inevitably came in huge, heavy bottles.

It took the recession to bring on a generation of younger winemakers (including women in what was once a male preserve) who had been to wine school, travelled the world and went on to change things for ever. This group returned home to rediscover an old but forgotten Spanish heritage – local grape varieties, ancient vineyards and wines that genuinely had a unique sense of place.

Recently I came away from a tasting held by wine importer Vinostito with a warm glow, not brought about by the alcohol but by the amazing wines I had tasted. This was one of the best tastings I have attended in years.


It was not exclusively Spanish; the rest of Europe and Chile also featured, but the quality and depth in the range of Spanish wines was quite amazing. As well as a host of star Spanish winemakers, we even had footballer David Luiz (who has interests in wine) making a cameo appearance.

In addition, three of the trailblazers for the new Spain – Telmo Rodriguez, Rafael Palacios and Peter Sisseck – were showing their wares. But the real stars were the wines; we tasted a huge range of wines made from a diverse range of grapes, including rarities such as Malvar, Lado, Grao Negro, Caiño, Listan Negro, Sumoll, Rufete, Callet and many more.

This week four wines, all costing less than €20, made exclusively from indigenous Spanish grapes, and all offering amazing value for money. I could have included dozens more. Vinostito wines are widely available in independent wine shops, so make sure you take a look in your local for a taste of the new Spain -– alongside your Albariño and Rioja.

Artuke Maceration 2019 Rioja Alavesa
13.5%, €16
An unoaked Rioja with wonderful, pure, supple Tempranillo fruits – all blackcurrants, dark cherries and hedgerow fruits. Try it with a roast of lamb or pork, or a warming bean, pepper and tomato stew.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Co Dublin,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin,; Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, Co Dublin,; Listons, Dublin 2,; Sweeneys D3,

Cullerot 2019, Celler del Roure, Valencia (organic)
12%, €17.50
This is a delicious complex wine fermented and aged in amphorae. It has toasted nuts, hay, and a touch of orange peel to complement the elegant succulent peach fruits. Try this with Spanish rice with shellfish.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,; First Draft Coffee & Wine, Dublin 8,; Loose Canon, Dublin 2,; Martin's Off Licence, Dublin 3,

Milú 2018, Ribera del Duero (organic)
13.5%, €18
A delightful wine with oh-so-seductive fresh crunchy blackcurrant fruits and a light tannic kick on the finish. Serve with grilled lamb chops or pasta with tomato-based sauces.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,; Bradleys Off-licence, Cork,; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth,; Ely 64, Glasthule,; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6,; Listons, Dublin 2,; Grapevine, Dalkey,; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny,; Drinkstore, D7,; Clontarf Wines, Dublin 3,

Rupestris 2018, DO Penedes (organic)
12%, €19
This delightful fresh light wine is made from a blend of local grapes, primarily Xarel.lo. It certainly doesn't lack flavour; mouth-watering, textured pears with a clean mineral finish. Solo or with shellfish: half a dozen oysters would be good.
From Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4,; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock,; Loose Canon, Dublin 2,; Lilliput Stores, Dublin 7,; Ely 64, Glasthule,; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth,; Searsons, Monkstown,; The Wicklow Wine Co, Wicklow,; The Wine Centre, Kilkenny,; Drinkstore, D7,; Red Island Wine, Co Skerries