A Quartet of Spanish “Country” wines

We continue our search for interesting good wines from different wine growing regions, especially those countries serving Mediterranean inspired foods. This night, we take a look at four very unique and interesting, “country” styled wines from Spain. Come on be adventuresome. These wines are worth checking out.

2014 Jose Antonio Garica Bierzo “Unculin”–here is a wine from one of the New Age winemakers ushering his appellation into the modern era of wines. The wine is delicious, & has wonderful fruit-stone nuances with unassumingly vinosity & an intriguing, underlying earthy-savory-dry herbal pungency.   “Located in Bierzo, within Castilla y León, his vineyards provide an unspoiled genetic window to another era before modern clones were selected for higher yields.  From Jose’s organically-grown, family-owned vineyards in the village of Valtuille de Abajo at 1600 to 2000 feet elevation in clay, sand littered with stones & is  planted with 60 to 100-year-old traditional mencía bush vines from an ancient genetic ancestry. Some of these vines are more than 200 years old. Grapes are hand-picked, leaving stems on 30% of the bunches. Unculín undergoes a spontaneous fermentation by natural, indigenous yeast in large, neutral, French foudres with a 30-day maceration post-fermentation. Four months of aging on the fine-lees and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel without topping up. Bottled unfined and unfiltered with minimal intervention.“.

Unculín is a fresh, vin de soif style Bierzo (the appellation) Mencía (the grape variety) which offers an antidote to over-blown, internationally-styled wines previously made in the region. Jose’s mineral Unculín echoes the forgotten traditions of the Bierzo region while pushing the envelope”.


2018 Amerztoi Getariako Txakolina–On our last trip to San Sebastián, Spain, we were in awe of the sheer plentitude of regional tapas available. There were so many to choose from and each small eatery had their own specialties. What even made it more memorable was washing down the morsels with glasses of well chilled Txakoli, a fizzy, lively, remarkably light and completely refreshing local Basque specialty produced mainly from the Hondarrabi Zuri grape variety. Here is one for you to better understand how Txakoli adds to the pure enjoyment of the whole dining scene there.  “Ameztoi is a renowned producer in Getariako Txakolina & owns twenty hectares of estate vineyards located in the most privileged position in the region, facing the Bay of Biscay.  High in the vineyards, planted on the dramatic sea-side cliffs of the ancient fishing village of Getaria, one can see the town of San Sebastian, which lies just twenty minutes away along a serpentine highway.  Ignacio Ameztoi is the fifth generation of his family to carry on the tradition of making txakolina in the province of Getaria & has been a driving force in the txakolina discipline.  Ameztoi Txakolina is traditionally built with high acidity and low alcohol, utilizing only native varieties hondarrabi zuri and hondarrabi beltza. The wine is fermented in refrigerated stainless steel tanks utilizing indigenous yeasts from the vineyard. The tanks are closed to preserve natural carbonation from fermentation, which is the preferred style of Getaria. The tanks are kept chilled to near 32 degrees Fahrenheit before bottling, which preserves the wine’s delicate, effervescent character and signature mousse.”


2015 Botani Moscatel Old Vines”–This is old vine (planted in 1946, 1968 and 1975) Moscatel de Alejandría grown on the very steep, rocky (slate & quartz soiled) hillsides of Sierra de Málaga. Yes, yet another dry, aromatic (high toned lime blossoms) white wine, done with a more masculine, virile touch.  “Botani Moscatel was chosen in 2016 by Robert Parker as one of the three best wines of the world with best value for money”.  This wine defies the odds with not only wine drinkers but where it is produced as well.  It comes from the Sierras de Malaga.  This is a mountanous region near the Southern Tip of Spain.  It is actually very close in proximity to where most Sherry is produced. It is extremely hot and typically white wines do not do well here.  Leave it to the genius that it is Jorge Ordonez to figure out that a beautiful Moscatel can be made here.  Jorge takes chances and it almost always pays off. 


2017 Bodegas del Palacios de Fefiñanes Albariño–Back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s, I thought Albariño would undoubtedly be the next “it” grape variety.  It really hasn’t caught on as I imagined yet.  The problem I later discovered was that I made my assessment based upon tasting only TWO different renditions of Albariño.  Over the years since then, despite tasting many, many other renditions, my top two are still the same–Bodegas del Palacios de Fefiñanes still being one of them.  There is not a lot of marketing oriented backstory or romantic story telling to this, other than the wine is just plain good!   This is Spanish Albariño as I think it should taste—pure, captivating, minerally, wonderfully fresh, aromatic & full of vigor & hutzpah.  The 2017 is lovely & was rated 94 points by noted wine writer Jeb Dunnuck.

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