Heavenly wines from Spain – and so affordable!

30 Nov

Whenever the Wine Wanderers are in Spain we marvel at the quality of what we’re served to drink, from crisp Albarinos which so complement the fabulous seafood of the north0western coast to the Riberas which have rather eclipsed Riojas as a rich, deep accompaniment to meat.   But now we’re getting seduced again by quite different combinations of grapes grown in the east of the country.

Most recently we’ve been wowed  by Spanish wines on our own doorstep, starting in Marylebone at a new wine bar and restaurant, The Fat of the Land.   Here head chef Alfonso Lillo Fas is serving Catalonian cuisine, but it’s the wines which accompany signature dishes like black olive and chocolate pate and chorizo with smoked morcilla and soft polenta which most delight.

Garnatxa -Catalonian for grenache – was the star of both a red and, more surprisingly,  a white we enjoyed, the JaspiBlanc and JaspiNegri from Monsant, a relatively new AOC which was formerly part of the Tarragona appellation.   It’s a mountainous region distinguished by the granite in its soil, where Toni and Miguel Coca, who make Jaspi,  grow grenache and carignan on old vines as well as newer plantings of cab sauv and tempranillo.   And presumably some syrah, which has gone into the  JaspiNegri blend along with the first three(but without the tempranillo).

The JaspiBlanc is a blend of grenache and the macabeu grape grown mainly in north-eastern Spain and south-western France; it was a delicious, juicy accompaniment to tapas, while the red was simply sumptuous with our meaty main courses.   Eminently affordable at £25-26 a bottle, it would be interesting to see what the Coca i Fito syrah/garnatxa/carinvena blend which The Fat of the Land sells as its top-priced  bottle for £48.50 tastes like; alas, not available by the glass.

More recently, we’ve been seduced by a different blend of grapes  in a great bottle from Waitrose, the monastrell shiraz from Heredad del Rey.  It’s made in Yacla, south-eastern Spain, one of the country’s smallest wine regions, with an ancient wine-making heritage.   This is stunning value at £8.99 – one of the most enjoyable bottles of red we’ve tasted this year – but at £6.74, as it will be during Waitrose’s December promotion preriod, it’s absolutely unmissable.

Also  enjoyed aat home  has been the Pasico Old Vines monastrell shiraz from Sainsburys, £5.99.   The lesson is, as the good folks from Bibendum told us at a recent seminar on the changing face of Spanish wine, that the wine-makers of that country are becoming as innovative as the chefs carting off the world’s top restaurant awards.  It’s definitely not all about Rioja any more.

The Fat of the Land is at 35 New Cavendish Street, W1   http://www.thefatoftheland.co.uk

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