GRAPEVINE with LIZ SAGUES: From chilly Baker Street to beautiful Iberia
Outside, Baker Street was chilly, grey and showery – just the weather, a fellow taster jibed, to put us in the mood for green Spain. Certainly, the northern edge of the Iberian peninsula is wet and cool, and that shows in the wines. It s hardly surpris
Outside, Baker Street was chilly, grey and showery - just the weather, a fellow taster jibed, to put us in the mood for "green" Spain.
Certainly, the northern edge of the Iberian peninsula is wet and cool, and that shows in the wines. It's hardly surprising that whites predominate, but what is interesting now is how very good they are (and so much better than a decade ago).
The star of the region is albarino, the grape of Rias Baixas. It can have a lovely perfumed character, with apricot fruit and a gently nutty edge - and the examples Wines from Spain showed the bibulous press from the 2006 and 2007 vintages had a lot of that.
All too often, a long line-up of very similar wines can be boring and tiring, even when the quality is uniformly high, as in the case of New Zealand sauvignon blancs, for example. But that certainly wasn't true of these 32 bottles, a splendidly broad spectrum of what is available retail in the UK now.
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These aren't cheap wines - they range from £8 to £25 - but you don't need to go to the top of that scale to find a great deal of pleasure. And, as is so often the case, they go very well with the speciality foods of their home region - this time, platters of smoky but not too fiery chorizo, creamy cheeses and anchovies brought in from Brindisa in Borough Market, heaven for Spanish foodies.
Try any of these, and there should be a smile on your face: Igrexario de Saiar (£9, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com), A2O (£9.85, www.bibendum-wine.co.uk), Pazo de Senorans (£10, www.thewinesociety.com), Bodegas Castro Martin Family Reserve (£10.45, www.bibendum-wine.co.uk), Abadia de San Campio (£11 approx, www.lescaves.co.uk), Eiral Elaborado (£11.75, www.philglass-swigott.com), Agnusdei (£12, www.dulcineawines.co.uk), D. Fifinanes (£13.50, Moreno Wines 020-7286 06780, www.morenowinedirect.com), Pazo de Barrantes (£13.50 approx, www.wholefoodsmarket.com), Valminor (£14, Harrods), Terra Firme (£15.50, www.dulcineawines.co.uk).
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Albarino is not all that grows in green Spain. Try hondarrabi zuri or hondarrabi beltza on your next supper guests. These are two of the grapes used in Basque producer Txomin Etxaniz's Getariako Txakolina (£10.80, Moreno Wines), a wine of pleasant style and substance, crisp and fresh.
Rather less vocally taxing is Crego e Monaguillo's very appealingly priced godello-treixadura blend from the Monterrei DO just on the border with northern Portugal, very fragrant and with an enjoyable mix of flavours with hints of spice and nuts (£9, or £7.50 if you buy at least two, Majestic, minimum total purchase 12 bottles).
Godello features again in Bodega La Tapada Guitian, from Valdeorras just a little further north. The label won't wow modernists, but what's in the bottle is unusual and interesting, floral and crisp yet with honeyed notes - a good aperitif. Salud!