The Marques de Caceras verdejo is grocery store wine that does what grocery store wine should do — it’s cheap, drinkable, and available
Quality grocery store wine should do a couple of things. First, it should be fairly priced, and not include a premium for a cute label or the marketing budget. Second, it should taste like what it is, so no cabernet sauvignon that tastes like a sweet red blend and no sauvignon blanc that tastes like a sweet white blend. That both of those are increasingly rare these days speaks to the crisis in cheap wine.
Which is where the Marques de Caceras verdejo ($9, sample, 13.5%) comes in. It’s a Spanish white made with the verdejo grape, so it fills two of the requirements for quality cheap wine – less expensive region and less known grape. And it does what quality grocery wine should do, too.
That means the Marques de Caceras verdejo is fairly priced, and it more or less tastes like verdejo – lots of lemon fruit and a clean finish. It’s simple, and the fruit could be less New World in approach, but it’s not insulting. This is the kind of wine for Tuesday night when you have to stop at the supermarket on the way home to get something for dinner, and you want wine as well.
The Naia 2015: Another wine of the week, another Spanish value
The surprise is not that we’re in Spain again for the wine of the week, but that the Spanish never seem to run out of quality cheap wine like the Naia. Even I’m beginning to be surprised, and I’m the one who wrote that Spanish wine offers the best value in the world.
The Naia ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is made with verdejo, a Spanish grape that produces passable, tart white wine that has been on the blog many times. The Naia, though, has another goal in mind: A wine that is more than passable but not costing much more than the usual verdejo.
In this, it succeeds. The Naia 2015 is a softer, more round version of verdejo, with white fruit (peach?) to go with the usual lemon, and the lemon is not nearly as pronounced as usual. There’s also an herbal something or other going on that rarely shows up in verdejo. Hence, the wine isn’t as straightforward and obvious, but less tart and more balanced.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2017 Hall of Fame in a year when the candidates that actually cost $10 are few and far between. Drink this chilled on its own, and keep a couple of bottles around the house as the holidays approach. And verdejo and fish are long-time pals, something to keep in mind when you’re making seafood.
The Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo is a $9 wine worthy of the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame.
What do you get when you blend two Spanish white grapes that make great cheap wine? You get the Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo, a $9 wine that is worthy of the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame.
The Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo ($9, purchased, 13%) demonstrates again why Spanish wine is the best value in the world. This isn’t some focus-grouped wine with lots of sweet fruit and a cute label devised by a marketing company – quite the opposite, in fact. It comes from Castilla in central Spain, where the real estate is much less expensive and the grapes, viura and verdejo, are little known elsewhere in the world.
Which is fortunate for us. Look for tart green apple fruit, a smidge of tropical something or other in the middle, and a fresh, surprisingly long finish. How this wine can be this delicious at this price is one of those questions that not enough producers are able to answer.
Chill this, and drink it on its own (yes, a porch wine), or with grilled or roast chicken, as well as anything with garlic, herbs, and olive oil.
Want to find out what real verdejo tastes like? Want to strike a blow for quality, terroir and value? Then buy the Arrumaco Verdejo. Its importer, Handpicked Selections, is one of those well-run but too small companies that are being squeezed by consolidation and premiumization.
Look for white fruit flavors and aromas (apricot?), plus a certain rich feel in the mouth that I didn’t expect and the touch of almond and lemon peel that top-notch verdejo is supposed to have. I couldn’t believe how well done this wine was after the first bottle, and went back and bought a couple more just to be sure.
Highly recommended. Drink this chilled on its own or with grilled fish, and it would also match a summer salad with lots of fresh herbs.
There are a variety of reasons why Spanish wine isn’t more popular in the United States, but to put it most simply: The wines are made with grapes that most of us have never heard of and come from regions that are even more obscure.
Case in point is the PradoRey Rueda ($11, sample, 12.5%), a white wine that comes from the Rueda region just northwest of Madrid and is made with the verdejo grape. In this, it does not seem like the kind of wine that would scream at shoppers from a grocery store shelf filled with chardonnay (hence the 84 it got from one user on CellarTracker, the blog’s unofficial wine app).
But it does stand out, offering the exceptional quality and value that Spain delivers these days. Look for clean, sour lemon fruit, but this is also a wine that is softer and richer than similar white wines at this price, with a hint of something tropical that balances the lemon. It’s a much more complex wine that it should be, and I was surprised at how I kept tasting it even after I had swallowed the wine.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame if I can find it for $10 in the Dallas area. Chill this and drink it on its own, or with anything that is traditional white wine food. And it would work wonders with grilled seafood or something like arroz con pollo.
This is the second of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part I, an overview of why Spain offers so much value, is here.
If wine drinkers know Spanish wine, it’s tempranillo from Rijoa or Ribera del Duero. Older wine drinker might know Spanish sherry, while the hipsters know garnacha and the Winestream Media-hyped wines from the Priorat. In this, it’s as if nothing has happened in Spain over the past 20 years.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Spanish wine — red, white, pink, and bubbly — is better than ever. Cava, the Spanish sparkling, has received most of the attention, but it’s not alone in the Spanish wine renaissance. The whites, including viura, verdejo, and albarino, can be spectacular for as little as $10. The reds, always excellent from the best regions, have improved dramatically regardless of where they’re from. Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo (which, sadly, appears to be gone) is from Utiel-Requena, about as little known as a Spanish wine region gets.
These wines, tasted over the past six months, will get you started in understanding what’s going on in Spain. But they’re just a sample, and I could have listed a dozen more. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own. It will be hard to go wrong.
• Muga Rosado 2013 ($10, purchased, 13%): One of the best roses in the world, always fresh and delicious. This vintage has tart strawberry fruit. As one CellarTracker user wrote: “My fifth bottle this summer,” which seems about as good a recommendation as possible.
• deAlto Amo Blanco 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): My tasting notes for this white, made mostly with viura, quibble about crispness and whether it’s too floral. How much have the Spanish spoiled me that I’m looking for things to complain about ?
• Columna R as Baixas 2011 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white, made with albarino, is another excellent example of the quality wine that Ole Imports brings to the U.S. Still fresh, despite being an older vintage, with a really interesting, almost baking spice middle.
• Cune Crianza 2010 ($15, purchased, 13.5%): Yes, this red from Rioja, a tempranillo blend, is three times better than the Decana, which means it’s close to spectacular. Deep, rich cherry fruit, a hint of bitter orange, layered oak, and a full, complete finish. Highly recommended.
• Evodia 2013 ($10, sample, 14.5%): This red, made with garnacha, is a hipster wine that the rest of us can enjoy. The last time I tasted it, it was 15 percent alcohol and still drinkable; this vintage, with lots of cherry fruit, good weight, and some black pepper, is even better. I’m always surprised I like it as much as I do.
• Val de Vid Verdejo 2010 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Yes, the vintage is correct, and how a white wine that costs $10 and is this old can be this delicious is beyond me. Has white pepper and a sort of pear fruit that could also be lime without the citrus, plus a longish finish.