Historic bodegas with decades of history are common in Spain, but the country is also rife with ambitious young winemakers, all heading off to the hinterlands in search of ancient vines and exceptional terroirs. Hidebound regional rules? No, thanks—let’s break them. Land too rugged to be farmed? Well, maybe that’s exactly why it’s great. Here are the future superstars to watch.
2015 Rafael Cambra El Bon Homme ($9) From his home in a tiny Valencian village, this young winemaker pursues a sustainable, noninterventionist approach. This tobaccoy blend of Cabernet and Monastrell comes from vines high in the Sierra de l’Ombria mountains.
2013 Botijo Rojo Garnacha V.V. ($18) A true garage wine (it’s actually made in a repurposed garage in the northeastern Valdejalón region), this fragrant, herbal red comes from ancient Garnacha vines farmed by the up-and-coming duo Fernando Mora and Mario López.
2014 Bernabeleva Navaherreros Garnacha ($20) In 2006, Juan Diez Bulnes and Santiago Matallana Bulnes fulfilled a dream of their great-grandfather’s: making wine from Garnacha vines he’d planted in 1926, before the Spanish Civil War. Located in the mountainous, new-on-the-radar Sierra de Gredos region west of Madrid, Bernabeleva produces subtle, beautifully detailed reds. This bottling is an ideal introduction to the winery’s style.
2015 Viñátigo Listán Negro Tinto ($20) On Tenerife, Juan Jesús Méndez has devoted his life to researching the origins of the Canary Islands’ native grapes. He’s become an international ambassador for them, thanks to wines like this ethereal, raspberry-smoky red.
2014 Màquina & Tabla Terrazas de Serapia ($22) Plush Garnacha fruit, kirsch-like and nuanced by French oak, makes this single-vineyard red from the Sierra de Gredos impossible to resist. Partners Oriol Illa and Susana Pastor produce wine from a variety of regions—always seeking out, as they say, “the oldest and most peculiar vineyards.”
2015 Comando G La Bruja de Rozas ($26) Comando G, a joint project between the über-talented young winemakers Daniel Landi and Fernando García, is producing some of the most compelling Garnacha-based wines—like this finely structured, fragrant bottling—in the Sierra de Gredos.
2014 Olivier Rivière Jequitibá ($30) Rivière, a French specialist in biodynamic agriculture, moved to Spain as a vineyard consultant. Now he pursues a hands-off approach to terroir-driven winemaking in Rioja and nearby regions. Among his successes is this layered, old-vine white.
2014 Artuke Finca de los Locos ($36) Brothers Arturo and Enrique Blanco left the official Rioja Denominación de Origen (D.O.) several years ago, preferring to make wines that don’t fit into the official regulations, like this plummy, espresso-scented, single-vineyard red.
2014 Más Que Vinos La Plazuela ($75) Founded by three friends hoping to rescue ancient vineyard plots in Spain’s overlooked Tierra de Castilla region and farm them organically, this ambitious bodega makes excellent values (its $14 Ercavio Tempranillo) as well as this remarkable, chocolaty red from Cencibel, a local clone of Tempranillo.