• Shelley Boettcher

Head to Spain for some wine inspiration

Updated: Feb 26

Five wines and a sherry to try now:

Ramon Canales, 2014 Marta Passio Reserva Cava Brut Rosado

(Penedes, Spain)

Cava can only be made in Spain, but it’s made the same way as Champagne — it just typically costs a lot less. This example is made from the same grapes as a white Cava — Xarello, Macabeu, Parellada — but it also has Grenache, (Garnacha, Garnatxa!) thrown in, to give it that pretty salmon-pink colour. This particular wine undergoes a secondary fermentation and aging in the bottle, to give it more depth and structure. It's so good, I could probably drink a glass of this every day.

As for the winery, it was founded in 1903 and it’s still family-owned and operated. They also own a private wine museum, which shows the region’s winemaking history. About $25 a bottle.

Bodegas Arrayan 2016 Albillo Real

(La Mancha, Spain)

The only white wine made at Arrayan, but what a wine! Albillo Real is a very cool, very rare grape that’s found mostly in Galacia and the Ribera del Duero region, and around Madrid. It has pretty notes of flowers and wet stones, and it’s great for seafood and tapas. A natural paired with manchego cheese. Only 538 cases of this vintage were made. As for the winery, it was founded in 1999 by a husband-and-wife duo, just outside of Madrid in the province of Toledo. About $32 a bottle.

Bodegas Vetus, 2016 Flor de Vetus, Verdejo

(Rueda, Spain)

Another young, modern winery, Vetas was founded in 2003 but has already become a fairly major player on the global wine scene. It’s really close to a city called Toro, and the entire region is famous not just for its wines but for its Moorish art, too, which can be seen in the architecture of the region. And Flor de Vetus? It's made from Verdejo grapes grown on old vines. With its rich tropical fruit flavours, it’s another great food wine, very versatile, and a fine pairing for chicken and seafood dishes. About $22 a bottle.

Fiesta de Azul y Garanza, 2016

(Navarra, Spain)

A blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, this juicy, fruit-forward red is delicious paired with pretty much everything. Organic and biodynamically certified, it is unfiltered and made with wild yeasts. From a trio of three young winemakers working in Northern Spain Azul y Garanza. As for Navarra, it’s a huge region very close to the French border, just southeast of Bilbao. Navarra is perhaps best known for its red blends such as this one, and rosé made from Garnacha, perhaps the region’s best-known grape (the grape that France calls Grenache.) About $18 a bottle.

Altamente 2016 Monastrell

(Jumilla, Spain)

Another organic wine, this one comes from Jumilla and is a new project from the same winemakers behind the Azul y Garanza. Unlike that winery, however, Jumilla is in southeastern Spain, on the Mediterranean coast in a province called Murcia (basically straight down from Valencia.) It’s hot, dry and tough here, so the grapes get intense flavours, especially notes of cherry and raspberry.

Wine geek trivia: These grapes are grown “pie franco,” which means they are on original Monastrell rootstock. They’re not grafted onto North American rootstock, like 90 per cent of European vines. About $19 a bottle.

Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry

(Jerez, Spain)

Although many of us have the perception that sherry is a sweet wine, it actually comes in a variety of styles; fino and manzanilla are the driest, lightest, white styles, and they’re typically served cold as an aperitif.

Pedro Ximenez, on the other hand, is the exact opposite, a rich, unctuous style that’s brilliant served over vanilla ice cream on a hot day, or with flan or crème caramel. Sweet sherries, such as this one, are made by first sun-drying white grapes and then pressing and fermenting them. Notes of molasses, chocolate, raisins, and a finish that goes on and on and on. About $15.