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The Best New Spanish Wines

Why Spain Is Hot

Americans bought almost $170 million worth of Spanish wine last year—10 percent more than the year before, and an almost 44 percent climb from five years ago. Why? Possibly because Spain is producing more new, world-class wines than ever before, thanks in part to an abundance of brilliant winemaking talent. At the same time, Spain remains a source for some of the best wine values around, especially robust reds from emerging regions like Toro and Jumilla.

Names to Know

Just out are first releases of exciting new projects from some of Spain's most well-known winemakers—Mariano García of Bodegas Mauro, Carlos Falcó of Marqués de Griñón and Peter Sisseck of Pingus, among others. Meanwhile, ambitious young winemakers are creating thrilling reds in formerly forgotten regions like Bierzo and Utiel-Requena, where acres of ancient vines have been producing little-known varieties like Mencía and Bobal for years.

The Famous Names

PETER SISSECK
2003 Quinta Sardonia ($50)
Best known for Pingus, Spain's greatest cult wine, Sisseck makes this potent Tempranillo blend—his latest project—from organically grown grapes.

TOMÁA CUSINÉ
2003 Vilosell ($17)
Over the past 20 years, Cusiné helped bring Castell del Remei, the benchmark bodega of Spain's Costers del Segre region, to fame. Now, with his own project, he's producing wines like this dark, voluptuous blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet, Garnacha and Merlot.

MARIANO GARCÍA
2004 Bodegas Maurodos Prima ($18)
García, one of Spain's greatest winemakers, recently debuted this second wine from his impressive property, San Román, in Toro (his primary winery, Mauro, is in Ribera del Duero). It packs an abundance of black, plummy fruit into a firm tannic structure.

ALVARO PALACIOS
2003 Herencia Remondo Propiedad ($25)
Superstar winemaker Palacios took the reins at his family's Rioja bodega in 2000, slashing production to focus on quality. The result is bottlings like this one: oak-scented, graceful and ripe with red cherry fruit.

CARLOS FALCÓ
2002 Summa Varietalis ($32)
Falcó's Dominio de Valdepusa estate southwest of Madrid supplies the fruit for this joint project between Falcó and his daughters Xandra and Tamara. It's a powerful, black-fruited blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

XAVIER AUSÁS
2003 Pintia ($45)
Ausás, the winemaker for Spain's illustrious Vega Sicilia, uses 100 percent Tinto de Toro grapes from the estate's substantial new property near San Román de Hornija in Toro to create this rich yet strikingly elegant red.

RENÉ BARBIER
2003 Clos Manyetes ($85)
Barbier is one of the five winemakers who brought Spain's Priorato to prominence in the early '90s. This luscious, wild berry–driven red comes from his most recent project, an ancient vineyard of 80-year-old Carignan vines just outside the tiny town of Gratallops.

The Next Generation

JOSÉ MARÍA VICENTE
2004 Casa Castillo Monastrell ($10)
The talented Vicente has great material to work with—his family owns one of the top estates in windy, hot Jumilla. His basic Monastrell (the region's signature red grape) is succulent and ripe, and a steal for the price.

VICTORIA PARIENTE & VICTORIA BENAVIDES
2003 Dos Victorias José Pariente Verdejo ($17)
Pariente and Benavides, who share winemaking duties at their small bodega, named this vibrant, grapefruity Verdejo from the Rueda region for Pariente's father, who planted the 35-year-old vines.

SARA PÉREZ
2003 Bodegas Mustiguillo Finca Terrerazo ($22)
Although she's only 34, Pérez has become one of the top winemaking consultants in Spain, thanks to efforts like this midnight-purple blend of Bobal, Tempranillo and Cabernet. It's dense with juicy boysenberry flavor.

MARÍA VARGAS
2001 Marqués de Murrieta Ygay Reserva ($22)
Murrieta, one of Spain's most distinguished estates, is making some of the best wines in its history thanks to 34-year-old Vargas. This ruby-colored, supple red has lifted scents of vanilla, tobacco and spice.

JOAN & JOSEP D'ANGUERA
2003 Joan D'Anguera Finca L'Argatà ($24)
The young brothers who oversee this 200-year-old family estate have been instrumental in putting the Montsant region on the map, with wines like this spicy, red-fruited blend of Syrah, Grenache (Garnacha) and Cabernet.

EDUARDO GARCÍA
2002 Bodega Los Astrales ($50)
García's father, Mariano, is a winemaking legend and a good teacher, too: The younger García is now a sought-after consultant in north-central Spain. His current projects include Los Astrales, the source of this full-bodied, plummy Ribera del Duero red.

GREGORY PEREZ
2001 Tierras de Luna ($25)
The 26-year-old Perez is one of Spain's young stars, thanks to the wines he's making at Bodegas Luna Beberide in Bierzo. This lush, silky Cabernet blend is full of opulent dark fruit.

Comments? E-mail Ray Isle at tastingroom@aexp.com.

Published April 2006
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