The Best New Wines from Spain, Part Two

Spain continues to offer extraordinary red wine values at the low end, even in the $8-and-under category, a price point most wine regions gave up years ago.  As I tasted through hundreds of Spanish red wines this year, mostly from the often outstanding 2009 and 2010 vintages, I frequently felt I was in a time warp when I saw the prices.  Most of these wines are fruit-driven, unoaked or barely oaked, and meant for immediate or short-term drinking, but many of them actually have the depth to age for at least a few years after bottling.  The American market is fortunate to have a number of savvy importers here whose focus is squarely on inexpensive outperformers, which makes for an embarrassment of choices for cost-conscious consumers.

By all reports demand is slow for most upper-range Spanish wines right now, as it is for expensive wines from just about anywhere.  Aside from the most sought-after, collectible wines (read: hoarded and perhaps sipped but rarely drunk with abandon), it's a buyer's market now, especially for wines from the tricky 2008, 2007 and 2006 vintages.  The old wine trade adage, to which I subscribe, is that great producers do good work even in the most difficult years, so vintage isn't everything. 

Not surprisingly, there are values galore to be had right now as importers, wholesalers and retailers clear inventory in anticipation of the incoming 2009s and 2010s, which are anticipated to be in high demand, economic conditions permitting.  Since many top Spanish wineries produced little of their upper-tier bottlings in '08 and '07, or even none at all, this means that much of the fruit from their best sites wound up in their entry-level wines.  I highly recommend fishing around among the big names from these difficult vintages as there are a number of very pleasant surprises available at attractive prices.  Even better, most of those wines are drinking well now, which makes them ideal for the upcoming winter season.