You will have change from €9 if you opt for this rich Spanish wine
I’m off to one of my happiest places next week, as I’ll be attending the 20th Madrid Fusión Gastronomy Congress, which features a star-studded cast of winemakers, chefs and food producers. With that in mind, I’ve tasted and re-tasted Spanish wines this week and reflected on the joys to be found in Spain’s rich culinary landscape.
As part of the trip, I will also be in Mallorca and Menorca for a few days visiting vineyards and olive groves. I admit that unlike most Irish people, I have never visited the Balearic Islands which are much more than resorts. Check out Neven’s Spanish Food Trails series set in Mallorca and Menorca if you don’t believe me – it’s currently playing on the RTE player.
Neven’s series reminded me that even the smallest regions of Spain have their own culinary traditions, just as there are local grape varieties and styles of wine, there will be sausages, meats, cheeses and sweets local tastes – all presented with pride and passion.
The suggestions below are all from northern Spain with some great red bargains from the Dunnes Stores sale plus a Verdejo, Godello and Albariño – the three great Spanish white varieties. I present Santiago Ruiz Albarinño here – a wine I mentioned in passing but not a wine I have ever properly presented. The label is one of my favorites because it is a card from Santiago Ruiz’s eldest daughter’s wedding which he turned into a label once he released his first wines. Known as the father of Albariño, there is even a street named after him in the village of San Miguel de Tabagón. Winemaking these days is in the extremely capable hands of Luisa Freire, a winemaker who impressed me immensely when I visited a few years ago. The food spread that she and the Ruiz family lingered over: some of the best empanadas I’ve ever tasted and a whole roast turbot for lunch.
Godello is more associated with Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras in Eastern Galicia, but this one comes from a sustainable vineyard on the Atlantic coast near the Miño River which forms the border with Portugal. The number of Godello in the country is gradually increasing, so look for it as well as Verdejo – there is no need to tell you about Albariño as we are one of the biggest consumers in the world (by volume). Long live Spain !
Resellers: Hole in the Wall, Martins, Jus de Vine, Mortons, La Touche, wineonline.ie, Donnybrook Fair, theallotment.ie
Like many Ribera del Duero wineries, Protos has a white wine outpost in Rueda just an hour away. From 100% Verdejo, it has mineral and crisp lime notes with hints of pineapple and guava, fruity, crisp and dry with stony, chalky notes perfect for cutting through some Croquetas or the silky fat of Jamon Iberico.
Retailer: Dunnes Stores
It’s a super low price: the last time I presented it a few years ago, it was 11 €. Cariñena in Aragon is just south of Zaragoza and an area to watch for bargains. From 100% Tempranillo: rich aromas of plums and berries with hints of spice, smooth and layered on the palate with pleasant earthy notes of licorice mixed with flavors of ripe fruit.
Reseller: Dunnes Stores Nationwide
It’s usually €13 and even at full price I’m not sure there’s a better Ribera del Duero available under €15, no matter how tasty. Four months in French oak barrels, so expect notes of smoky vanilla mixed with dark fruit – on the palate, blackberries, pomegranates and cranberries, which has surprising weight and substance for such a low price.
Retailers: Dunnes Stores, Whelehans, Jus de Vine, La Touche.
This is on special for just over €18 in Dunnes stores this week – a bargain. The magnificent Protos winery (designed by Richard Rogers) is home to Ribera’s excellent cooperative and their wines are always reliable. It’s bursting with aromas of damson plum and black plum, silky-textured blackberry and good length—perfect for a bit of spring lamb.
Retailers: Avoca, Barnhill Stores, Ely, Fresh, McHughs, Red Nose Wines, Wineonline.ie
From the O Rosal sub-region and one of the oldest producers in the region (Santiago Ruiz was known as the “father of Albariño”). It’s 82% Albariño plus 9% Loureiro and c. 2% Caiño Branco, Treixadura and Godello. Aromas of white peach and guava with a hint of lime, fruity and sweet on the attack with a citrus and stony freshness on the finish.
Resellers: Corkscrew thecorkscrew.ie, Blackrock Cellar, Deveneys, Baggot St Wines, D6, Martins, Drink Store, Nectar Wines, SC Grocer, WineHouse.
I featured this producer’s Albariño a few years ago and their Godello is just as tasty. Godello is more associated with the northern and eastern regions but is grown in a few places in Galicia. This is a single Godello vineyard with aromas of lime and kiwi, creamy and textured on the palate with weight balanced by lime-flavored acidity.
Dealers: Bradleys, O’Briens, Selected SuperValu, Celtic Whiskey Shop, Mitchell & Son, Martins, teelingdistillery.com
This is the first release in Teelings “Wonders of Wood” series: Teeling triple distilled pot still aged in Virgin Chinkapin American White Oak Barrels. It won the Worlds Best Single Pot Still Whiskey at the 2022 World Whiskey Awards – one of many awards Teeling has won recently. Teeling is also planting an acre of native woodland in Wicklow
A blend of 50% malted and unmalted barley that has aromas of caramel, honey and wood sap – fruity and textured on the palate with more honey and a touch of banana bread with lively spice notes on the finish and lingering flavors of ginger and pepper.