The Best Spanish Wines to Transition from Summer to Fall
Spanish viticulture is seeing a renaissance like never before. Although big-name brands used to dominate the country’s winemaking scene, the past few decades have brought a massive shift in Spain’s mentality towards farming and vinification. Verve Wine co-founder Dustin Wilson has witnessed the change right before his eyes. “Spanish wine has evolved so much since I’ve been in the industry,” he says. “When I first got started as a sommelier, a lot of Spanish wines were super modern, big, alcoholic, and overly marketed – therefore, not really interesting to me at all.”
Dustin notes that what he's seeing now is a gravitation towards organic farming, emphasis on indigenous varieties, and non-interventionist vinification – basically a complete 180 from the Spain he used to know. “These ‘New Spain’ wines are super delicious and balanced. I’ve been thrilled to see how much the landscape has evolved over the last decade or so. It’s been very exciting to watch.” This is exactly the sort of wine that has year-round appeal, and fits in perfectly for the transition from summer to fall.
Dustin highlights Galicia, Catalunya, Valencia, and Madrid as a few of his favorite spots. These regions present a great deal of variety and support many small, ecologically responsible producers. This results in many versatile options that aren’t pigeon holed to certain types of weather, setting, or activity. We look for wines that are refreshing and flavorful, bottles that can go with a range of foods from fresh veggies to oven roasted meats. This time of year we seek out wines that are equally as easy to drink on the porch on a pleasant evening as they are around the living room on the first fireplace night of the year. Spain has all the answers.
How to Shift from Summer to Fall, Spanish Style
Can’t get enough of acid-driven whites like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling?
Give Albariño a chance. The salty, sea-influenced expressions coming out of Galicia promise to quench your thirst while the days are still warm – and if fresh seafood/raw bar favorites are on the table, even better. We can’t get enough of what Alberto Nanclares is doing to pioneer terroir-driven, single-vineyard, saline-driven Albariño. Also check out expressions from Zarate and Do Ferreiro for a variety of price points and vinification styles.
Then Godello may just be your new favorite variety. These rich yet balanced wines are equally refreshing, versatile, and food-friendly on the table. Spanish whites are great with garden fresh meals as well as savory, herbal, and seasoned fish and poultry. Two Verve Wine fan favorites working with this variety are Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez and Raúl Pérez.
Enjoy Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Cabernet Franc?
Mencia is next on your list for a chillable year-round red. Think of this grape as Pinot structured, Gamay fruit-driven, and pepper-tinged like Cab Franc. We look again to Raúl Pérez for naturally crafted and pure Mencia. This wizard-like vigneron is shaking up Bierzo’s game and his soil-driven Mencias from Castilla y León stand up to countless Old World benchmark bottles.
Want a versatile red?
Peppery, red-fruited Garnacha will go anywhere, and 4 Monos and Dani Jiménez-Landi are crushing it. And if you’re really looking to get your hands on Spain’s next big thing, look no further than Comando G’s wines. These ‘Rayas-like’ bottles are textured, ageworthy, and hauntingly aromatic.
Love concentrated red wines like Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon?
The world of Rioja is calling your name. If you think that Rioja means oak, there’s still plenty to explore. One of our favorites is Alberto Orte 'Anibal' Rioja which is elegant and mineral-driven, but with plenty of red fruit depth.
Best of all, the price points on many of these wines will cost you a fraction of what equally esteemed Italian and French juice would. It’s the perfect excuse to usher in the new season with new-to-you Spanish gems.
Want to dive deeper into natural wine from Spain? Read more about Five of Our Favorite Spanish Natural Wine Producers on the Verve Mag here.