Great value from Spain: Pleyades and Spanish Steps
The besetting sin of Spanish red wine has usually been horrible oak usage. This commonly means too much of it, and the wrong sort, and for too long. But now that Spanish winemakers are realizing that their less expensive reds don't need much at all, we're seeing some fantastic, affordable red wines from Spain that over-deliver, big time.
The first wine is one of the best value reds I've tried of late; the second is equally impressive and offers lots of character for relatively little money. Both are fruit-driven and delicious, and wines like these must send shivers down the spines of new world wineries competing at the same price point.
Pléyades Shiraz 2007 Cariñena, Spain
From Terrai Viñedos y Crianzas, this has to be one of the wine bargains of the year. It shows lovely bright, slightly meaty, almost floral dark fruits, which have some appealing sweetness and purity, but also some meaty, spicy, black pepper savouriness. The purity of fruit and the tension between the sweet ripe characters and the darker, more savoury ones keep my interest here: it’s a wine that I enjoy drinking. Delicious stuff, and I can see why this won a gold medal at the Decanter Wine Awards (to be honest, I think it’s more of a Bronze/Silver, which still makes it great value for money). It also toys a little with reduction, and I like it all the more for this. I’d be very happy to have this as my house red, in these tight economic times. 88/100 (£4.98 Asda)
Spanish Steps Mencia 2007 Bierzo, Spain
From northwest Spain, this varietal Mencia (known as Jaen in Portugal) really delivers. Deep coloured, it has a lovely vibrant, pure nose of summer fruits with a plummy edge. Fruit dominates, but there’s nice definition here. The palate is juicy and ripe with lovely bright blackberry and damson character, as well as fresh acidity. Pure and primary, this is a delicious wine for current drinking. Brilliant value at a suggested retail price of £5.99, and I’m really surprised that this hasn’t got any major listings yet. 88/100 (£5.99 Oakley Wine Agencies, 01787 220070)