Humbly Spanish

The stunning terraced vineyards of Priorat

I recently attended a tasting of a Spanish wines from the great team at Humble Grape. Although proprietor James was otherwise engaged, Jessica and team took us through an interesting selection from some of the known and less well known Spanish regions.

The tasting was held at the Haciendas Club near the Millennium Bridge – a great venue for a Spanish themed event. We were a little early so we tried some cava and tapas from the excellent Zorita’s Kitchen directly below the Club.

We enjoyed a couple of glasses of Marques de la Monistrol ‘Reserva de la Familia‘ cava while the group gathered. This subtle rosé was also our favourite from those served downstairs. Cava is so under appreciated. These Spanish sparklers share the “Traditional Method” of production  – second fermentation in bottle – with those from Champagne, resulting in wines with much more depth and finer bubbles than those of the currently fashionable Prosecco.

We were then served a 2013 Vedejo from Marques de la Concordia, from the Rueda region. This was a great drinking wine – it serves the same purpose as Sauvignon Blanc without being Sauvignon Blanc.

We then sampled a couple of wines from Bodega Vinessens. The first was a “cool climate” chardonnay. It was plugged as a “burgundy substitute”. I wasn’t convinced – if I was looking for that vibe I’d seek out a Spanish barrel fermented Garnatxa Blanca, ideally from Terra Alta. But it was certainly different, and a very welcome addition to the Spanish interpretation of Chardonnay. Probably star turn of the night. The second was a Monastrell (known to most as Mourvèdre) made in a lighter style. This one is known as ‘Scandalo‘ to reflect its interesting provenance. We noted significant variety amongst our tasting group, who sampled different bottles. The conclusion was that this wine was indeed fine but a little one dimensional – a classic case of where a blend could perhaps have made a more interesting wine.

Next up was an old (2007) Rioja from Bodegas Rioja Santiago Reserva. At £14 it was good value and showed many of the characteristics that you would want from a Rioja. Better this than many a supermarket Rioja, but don’t expect distinction at that price.

We then turned to the latest “hot” Spanish region for a Gran Clos “Finca El Puig” 2001 Priorat. I’ll declare an interest – I think some of the most interesting red Spanish wine is coming out from Catalunya. This was no exception, but perhaps a bit too young to show its best. One for the cellar.

The next wine was trailed as a revelation. The Pico Cuadra from Ribera del Duero had everything going for it, including a winemaker who learnt his trade at Vega Sicilia, but the wine didn’t deliver on the night. Perhaps this was due to the frantic journey it had to go through to get there due to some “unforeseen circumstances”. One to taste again at another time, perhaps.

All round, an interesting selection, and certainly some different wines from those I would have expected. If you don’t know them already, I suggest you check out Humble Grape – they have some good stuff.

Who is Andy McLeod

I'm a grape grower and wine maker in both the UK and Spain, a profession I fell into because of my love of wine and a desire to understand how I could produce a drink that was both good and different.