10 Top-Rated Spanish Wines to Drink Now
There’s no shortage of excellence among the more than 100 Spanish wines reviewed for this month’s Buying Guide.
Roughly one-third of the wines in this report rated 90 points or higher, with a couple of wines reaching the rarified 94–95 range.
If that seems like a high percentage of great wines from one country, look at the names of the producers and regions that are driving the quality bus, and the picture becomes clearer.
At the head of the class in this report is Artadi, the modern-leaning Rioja winery run by the meticulous Juan Carlos de la Calle.
Artadi’s 2011 prestige bottlings—Valdegines Single Vineyard, Pagos Viejos and Viña El Pison—which are 100% Tempranillo and range in price from $65 to $300 per bottle, are all outstanding. In general, the 2011 vintage in Spain, which is on the market now, was a solid year that yielded good to superb wines throughout the country.
More affordable 2011 Tempranillo-based wines that showed well were Marqués de Cáceres’s MC (92 points; $30) and Aldonia’s basic Rioja (91 points; $25). Meanwhile, 2011 was a strong year for Garnacha (Grenache) as well, with wines like Scala Dei’s Negre from Priorat, Castillo de Maluenda’s Punto y Coma Viñas Viejas from Calatayud and Bodega Muriel’s JME from Rioja each earning 90 points or more.
In summary: If you’re looking for high-quality, robust red wines to usher in the fall, Spain is a good place to begin your search.
95 Artadi 2011 Viña El Pison (Rioja). Artadi’s top wine is dynamite in a bottle. Ripe, saturated, oaky aromas of blackberry, leather, blueberry pie and aged cheese are incredibly potent and alluring. This is huge in the mouth, with lemony oak and broad tannins that don’t grind. Intense blackberry, coffee, toast and smoky flavors finish a mile deep, with all sorts of textural grab and character. Best from 2016 through 2026. Folio Fine Wine Partners. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.
abv: 14.5% Price: $300
92 Marqués de Cáceres 2011 MC (Rioja). This is arguably the best MC Cáceres has bottled. Dense, smoky aromas of bacon, toast and blackberry are showing well. A concentrated yet balanced palate is home to flavors of ripe black fruits accented by proper doses of spice and leather. A toasty finish is black as night, with coffee and hard spice notes. Drink through 2020. Vineyard Brands. Cellar Selection. —M.S.
abv: 14% Price: $33
92 Castillo de Maluenda 2011 Punto y Seguido Viñas Viejas Garnacha (Calatayud). Initially this smells chunky, gaseous and heavy, but with airing things turn toward minerality and red-berry scents. The palate is immediately pleasing and deep, with good structure and strong but tame tannins. Meaty red-and-black flavors are dense and delicious, while the finish is broad shouldered, with a stout feel and moderate complexity. Drink through 2018. Hidalgo Imports, LLC. —M.S.
abv: 14% Price: $30
91 Aldonia 2011 Tempranillo Blend (Rioja). Black-fruit aromas along with floral violet notes are draped all over the nose on this impressive mondern-styled Rioja. A juicy, zesty palate is acidic but offers enough body to handle it, while flavors of plum, berry and oaky vanilla and chocolate finish warm but fairly quick. Drink through 2020. Regal Wine Imports Inc. —M.S.
abv: 13.5% Price: $25
90 Bodegas Muriel 2011 JME Garnacha (Rioja). Round, robust aromas of ripe berry fruits, minty herbs, latex and smoky oak set up a fresh, tight, slightly tannic and drawing palate with savory, foresty flavors of raspberry and plum. A red-fruit finish shows a touch of citric acid, but overall this is fresh and clean. Quintessential Wines. —M.S.
abv: NA Price: $30
89 Teso La Monja 2011 Romanico (Toro). Minerally, toasty aromas sit on top of crusty black-fruit scents. Typical for Toro and this winery, this is flush on the palate, with black cherry, blackberry and dark plum flavors. A tight, tannic finish is true and honest. Drink through 2018. Jorge Ordoñez Selections. —M.S.
abv: 14.5% Price: $17
89 Clos de Tafall 2011 Selecció de Vinyes (Priorat). Roasted, black-fruit aromas are tight and focused. In the mouth, this is tannic and concentrated, with each pass revealing another layer of grip and bite. Flavors of smoky black cherry and blackberry finish long, jagged and spicy, with length and power. Give this a few more years and it might become more subtle and complex; now it’s quite fierce. Vinamericas Selections. —M.S.
abv: 14.5% Price: $22
89 L’Obaga 2011 Priorat. Raspberry and plum aromas are wide and jammy, with notes of earth and schist. This is mellow on the palate, with non-biting tannins. Medicinal red-berry flavors are slightly candied, while the finish is sweet tasting, with residual tannins. The Artisan Collection. —M.S.
abv: 15% Price: $24
88 Hermanos Lurton 2011 Toro. Earthy, ripe, slightly flat aromas of black fruits define the nose on this dense Toro. Soft, mellow, quiet flavors of blackberry and raisin finish rich, loamy and with a note of prune. Drink this ripe, fairly sweet-tasting wine now. Seaview Imports. —M.S.
abv: 15% Price: $15
87 Muruve 2011 Joven (Toro). Minerally, warm aromas are rustic and savory, with berry power lurking in the backdrop. A full, grabby, tannic palate is meaty in feel, while flavors of blackberry, dark spices, cocoa and herbal notes finish flush and tannic, with ample ripeness. United Cellars, Inc. Best Buy. —M.S.
abv: 14.5% Price: $10