Steve Daniel, Hallgarten’s wine-searcher-in-chief has been busy over the last year – particularly delving around the more obscure regions of Spain.
At its tasting this week they had some exciting new wine additions from Tenerife, Lanzarote and the north-west at the kind of prices that ought to be interesting to a wide range of venues.
Here are Imbibe’s picks.
Xose Louis Sebio, Salvaxe 2015, Ribeiro, £25.06
This north-western blend from near the Portuguese border is pricey, but it merits the outlay. While you might have heard of Treixadura and Albariño, which make up 30% of the blend, Lado, which is the biggest component at 20% was a new one for us – and in any case one third of the wine is described as ‘other varieties’!
Flavour-wise, it’s a winning combination of white fruit and laurel leaf with a faint touch of bitter oiliness. Texturally it’s really interesting. An elegant and high-quality match for your top fish dish.
Bodegas el Grifo, Malvasia de Alias ‘El Grifo’ 2015, Lanzarote, £21.59
The oldest winery in the Canary Islands, established in 1775, El Grifo has 61 hectares of pre-phylloxera vineyards. They have a cheaper Malvasia Seco (£17.95), but the extra £4 gets you a significantly better wine. It has that typically exuberant floral Malvasia nose, but don’t be fooled; the palate is properly grown-up: a blend of yellow-fruit and smoky cream with a taut stony grip running through its heart. One for a big buttery fish dish.
Marmajuelo 2017, Bodegas Vinátigo, Islas Canarias, Tenerife 2017, £18.87
If you only try one new winery’s wines over the next six months, it should probably be these guys. Their vineyards are full of old Spanish and Portuguese varieties, some of which died out on the mainland during phylloxera. On this evidence, Marmajuelo ought to be due a recall.
Steve Daniel describes it as ‘a bit like [the Greek] Malagousia’ and there’s a similar winning juiciness to its fruit character, but perhaps because of the volcanic soils or the concrete-egg fermentation, there’s also a definite mineral spine that runs right through the centre of the wine and makes it immensely drinkable and matchable.
If you want pure minerality, incidentally, try its Listán Blanco (£13.72). Known as Palomino in Spain, it’s like drinking a smoky bag of gravel. In a good way!
Vel Uveyra Mencia 2016, Ribeira Sacra, £13.50
Officially, this wine wasn’t at the tasting, but I was given a surreptitious taste anyway and I suggest you ask for the same. It was probably my red wine of the day – and ridiculously good value for money.
From north-facing slopes in the stunningly beautiful Ribeira Sacra – a place so remote that for centuries almost the only people living here were monks and hermits – it’s a mid-weight, lifted, aromatic red with supple red fruit, floral/violets perfume and gossamer acidity that dances through the palate on tiptoes. It’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t like this – or any venue that couldn’t sell bucket loads of it.