Spain and Portugal have their own distinct classics. Here, four excellent bottles.
Classic Wines from Spain and Portugal
NV Freixenet Cordon Negro ($12)
Freixenet produces millions of cases each year of this ubiquitous, black-bottled sparkling wine. It may not be as complex as Champagne, but it’s a deservedly classic sparkling wine, inarguably tasty (and consistent), with fresh lemon-lime flavors that finish on a lightly sweet note.
2008 Martin Codax Albariño ($15)
Martin Codax is actually a co-op of over 550 grape growers (it’s named after a 13th-century Galician troubadour). Its basic Albariño has long been an ideal introduction to this zesty grape, with grapefruit-peel and pineapple notes and a refreshingly brisk finish.
2001 Marqués de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial ($54)
Murrieta, one of the greatest producers in Rioja, sources its classically styled gran reserva solely from its vast 741-acre Ygay estate, located at the southern tip of Rioja Alta. In 2001—the current release—the wine is full of ripe cherry fruit, with notes of licorice and dry leaves.
2007 Dow’s Vintage Port ($76)
Vintage port should be decadent when young and sublime when old, and Dow’s—founded in Oporto, Portugal in 1798—almost always fulfills those conditions. This 2007 is classically Dow-like, which means black fruit with dark, savory and spicy notes, and a refined structure that is just shy of austere.