Joelle Thomson's Amazing Value Picks: The Euro reds mix
by Abby Jones
The United Kingdom might have officially exited the European Union but chances are high that its residents will still enjoy the vinous riches from the warm and sunny south of Europe. I’m talking red wine, of course. Reds like these are hard to beat because the long hot summers provide sufficient heat for grapes that we simply can’t ripen fully in New Zealand. That’s what makes big reds like this week’s bunch taste so exotic, rich and full. Hope you enjoy drinking them as much as I have tasting them.
Star wine of the week -2010 Caballo de Oro Reserva 5 Anos
4.5 stars, 18.5/20
It’s amazing to come across a wine this affordable that’s already been aged for nine years and still tastes incredibly fresh. It comes from Valdepenas - a wine region that’s 700 metres above sea level in La Mancha – Spain’s biggest wine region, situated south of Madrid. This is a hot area so the altitude of the vineyards provides cool nights to retain fresh qualities in the wines. Unlike its nearby neighbours, this area is all about quality over quantity. And that stands out loud and clear in this lively Tempranillo (known in this region as Cencibel). View here.
2013 Viejo y Magistral Riserva by Faustino Rivera Ulecia
3.5 stars, 16.5/20
Spain is home to some of the world’s best value red wines, like this dry, full bodied wine from the Utiel-Requena DO – a large wine region in the south east. This wine tastes fresh, even at seven years old. It has dark plummy fruit flavours and firm tannins, suggesting it has even more time up its weighty sleeve, if cellaring wine is on your agenda. It’s also a lovely drink now. View here.
2014 Alceno Monastrell Jumilla
4 stars, 17/20
Monastrell is a heat loving grape so Jumilla in central southern Spain works wonders for this late ripening grape, which needs hot days and plenty of them in order to fully ripen. When it does gain full ripeness, Monastrell makes big, bold, deliciously juicy and dry red wines. This one has freshness and vibrancy to burn and, even at 14.5% alcohol, it’s a beautifully balanced red. Its smooth tannins mean it will also taste good lightly chilled on a hot day. View here.
2017 Calle Principal Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon
4 stars, 17.5/20
This type of wine gives Spain a good name for bold, fresh, big, dry reds. It’s a new wave blend of Tempranillo – the most planted red grape in Spain – with Cabernet Sauvignon, originally from France. Tempranillo gives the fruity appeal while Cabernet adds backbone, weight, spice and dark fruit flavours. It drinks well now and can undoubtedly age for at least five years in a cool dark cellar, if willpower allows. View here.
2017 Casa del Valle El Fidon
3 stars, 16/20
Fruity, dry and medium bodied, this blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon is spicy and good drinking now – rather than to age. It’s made by Bodegas y Vinedos Casa del Valle. View here.
2010 El Cabron Digno Reserva
4 stars, 17.5/2
Valdepenas is code for top shelf Tempranillo without a scary price tag. This wine is dry and full bodied but retains elegance, thanks to its juicy acidity and succulent fruit flavours, which shine in every mouthful. It’s a wonder this wine doesn’t cost a lot more. View here.
Joelle Thomson is a wine writer, journalist and author. She’s an avid lover of wine and currently writes for Capital magazine, Good magazine, NZ Winegrower, Drinksbiz, and her own site,www.joellethomson.com.
She also teaches, works in radio, and more, so we've enlisted her help to sniff out our amazing value wines!