Peter Ranscombe dreams of Spain’s beaches, beers, and sunshine – yet is content to make do with its wines for the time being.
SCOTLAND’S clincial director, Professor Jason Leitch, might be advising civil servants not to book non-refundable summer holidays, but that hasn’t stopped me daydreaming about Spain.
The beaches, the beer, the sunshine – the food.
Seeing snow on the ground this morning as I gaze out my window – think Oscar Wilde, but with less wit and slightly less hair – has only added to my pining.
Looks like I’ll just have to take solace in Lidl’s latest “wine tour” promotion instead, which begins today.
Eight times a year, the German discount supermarket chain brings in a selection of bottles.
They’re the epitome of “when they’re gone, they’re gone”, in the same style as those other “middle of Lidl” limited offers… although, due to Scottish licensing law, they’re in a separate designated section of the store, obvs, rather than that mystical centre aisle.
So, maybe more “wall of wine” than “middle of Lidl”.
I struggled with some of Lidl’s Spanish choices during one of last year’s “wine tours”, but the bottles in the current promotion mark a clear return to Iberian form.
These five bottles represent great value and are an excellent introduction to the styles of regions outside Rioja if you’re beginning to explore Spanish wine…
Los Molinos Organic Wine Tempranillo 2019 (£6.49)
Made by Felix Solis, a big supplier of cheaper wines to UK supermarkets and convenience stores, it’s great to see another organic wine in Lidl’s “wine tour”. Sweeter blackcurrant jam and spun sugar notes on the nose and then fresh blackcurrant on the palate, with a touch of mint. It’s simple and straightforward, yet has that concentration of flavour I always see with organic wine. And worth the £2 upgrade from Lidl’s standard Libertario La Mancha Tempranillo (£4.69 in Scotland and Wales, £3.79 in Englandshire).
Agramont Garnacha Old Vine 2019 (£7.99)
While the tempranillo hails from the central Valdepeñas region, this old vine garnacha comes from Navarra in the north, just over the border from Rioja. Together, tempranillo and garnacha form the backbone of the Rioja blend, and garnacha often takes the starring role in Navarra’s reds. Here, I was really impressed with the ripe raspberry and red plum flavours that balanced the grip from the tannins. Good intensity, especially for the price.
Fincas del Lebrel Graciano 2019 (£6.99)
Over the border to Rioja, and graciano, once a lowly blending component but now finding a wider audience as the star of the show, as we saw a couple of times last year. This bottle is a decent introduction to the grape, capturing some of its fresh violet aromas in amongst the blackcurrant and vanilla, with sweetness and freshness to balance its grippiness.
Heredad Mistral Priorat 2017 (£7.99)
Priorat, across near Barcelona, rivals Rioja in terms of the reputation and quality of its red wines – they’re the only two regions in Spain to reach the country’s highest “DOCa” or “DOQ” classification. Lidl’s entry-level example captures many of Priorat’s more exciting characteristics; the intensity of the raspberry flavour, the crunch of the red apple note, the freshness of the blackcurrant on the finish.
Hachón Ribera del Duero 2015 (£8.99)
Finally, back to the north of central Spain and the star of the show for me among the selection of wines from Lidl that I was able to try during lockdown. The Duero in Ribera del Duero is the river that becomes the Douro when it flows across the border into Portugal. As wine lovers begin exploring Spanish wine, Ribera del Duero is usually one of their first stops outside Rioja and this bottle captures many of the reasons why. It’s got complex cedar, dark chocolate, black fruit, and beefy roast meat aromas, plus well-integrated grainy tannins, and then sweet and ripe blackcurrant flavours mingling with the chocolate, mocha, and vanilla on the palate.
Read more of Peter’s wine, beer, and spirit reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.