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We spent some time in Spain and were mind-blown by the Spanish wines we drank. These Spanish wines were completely different from the big Rioja and Ribera del Duero labels that usually get exported from Spain to Mexico.
Red wines produced mainly with native Spanish grapes such as Garnacha, Mencía and Listán Prieto, they were textured, highly unique, and very distinctive. Needless to say, we were hooked!
Back in Mexico, we did a deep dive into what’s going on with Spanish wines. We found out the incredible wines we were drinking were from producers known as the “New Wave of Spanish Wines.”
What is the New Wave of Spanish Wines?
The term doesn’t refer to a Spanish region within Spain, but mostly to a winemaking philosophy.
The “New Wave” is a recent movement in Spanish winemaking, characterized by a focus on quality and a move away from traditional, mass-produced wines. Many producers also go back to their Spanish winemaking roots, often through the use of indigenous grape varieties.
These New Wave winemakers are making high-quality, small-batch wines that rival the best of Burgundy, Piemonte, and other prized regions.
We tell about some of them below:
Bodegas Artuke (Rioja Region)
Bodegas Artuke makes Rioja wines as you’ve never seen before.
When you hear “Rioja,” what comes to mind? For the average wine drinker, Rioja means historic wineries, huge vineyards, a strict classification system, and big oaky wines with years of oak aging.
Arturo and Kike, the brothers behind Bodegas Artuke, are flipping those traditions on their heads. From the get-go, they forego joining the Rioja DOCa, a stamp of approval that could help position their wines in the international market. Instead, they chose to keep the freedom to produce and especially age their wines in any way they see fit.
The Miguel brothers are fierce defenders of the Rioja Alavesa traditions that easily date back 200 years. They are also true artisans, tending their head-pruned vines organically, macerating for a short time in vat, and aging in large, neutral barrels.
What Bodegas Artuke wines taste like?
While all different, Artuke wines are famed for their restrained power and natural elegance, without the overpowering influence of oak; each wine offers a beautifully detailed expression of the land.
The two most prominent critics of Spanish wine – Luis Gutiérrez and Tim Atkin – place them among the Rioja elite. Atkin not only classifies Artuke as a First Growth, he consistently ranks both of its top two wines among his top red Riojas.
Comando G Vinos (Madrid Region)
Comando G Vinos is the collaboration between Fernando García and Daniel Landi (from Bodegas Jimenez-Landi).
After studying enology in Madrid the friends headed back to Gredos, where met and gained the trust of some of the oldest vineyards in the Gredos area. How? In the way one does it best – by drinking beer with them at local bars! The next step was easy – convince them to allow the winemakers to take care of their vineyards and produce local high-quality wines rather than selling their produce in bulk to big brands.
Comando G has about 10 hectares (25 acres) of vines planted between 900 and 1200 meters of altitude (2950 to 3940ft). The age of the vines ranges between 50 and 80 years, all farmed following organic and biodynamic practices.
When it comes to the vinification, Fernando and Daniel have a minimal intervention approach: fermentations are carried out with stems, extractions are soft and aging is done with lees in large wooden vats (or fudres).
The winery’s name was inspired by the Japanese anime cartoon “Comando G” (also known as Battle of the Planets in the English version). Most importantly, however, it refers to the three main components of the winery: Gredos (the area), Granite (the mineral that composes a lot of the vineyards soil) and Garnacha (the varietal).
What Comando G wines taste like?
They are mostly Garnacha wines, light to medium-body, lean, and incredibly aromatic.
Jancis Robinson, the beloved wine writer, had a “love at first sip” moment when she first tried “La Bruja de Rozas.” She coined a perfect description:
The wine has such seductive fruit – juicy but ethereal, sweet but in a Pinot Noir-like way rather than a sickly way – and also a very fine, sandy texture that seems to communicate the granitic sand on which these ancient Garnacha bush vines are grown.
Veronica Ortega (Bierzo Region)
First things first: the Bierzo region is known for its Mencía and Godello wines – if you haven’t tried or heard of those, these are definitely grapes that should on your radar!
Verónica Ortega is a native of Cadiz (Southern Spain) but moved to Bierzo in 2012. Her winemaking background is impressive:
Verónica trained at Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Domaine du Compte Armand in Burgundy, worked the harvests with Daphne Glorian and Álvaro Palacios in Priorat, and was winemaker at Domaine Laurent Combier in Crozes-Hermitage (Rhône).
Veronica released her 1st vintage in 2012, and the reviews have been great. She was voted one of the “10 great Spanish winemakers you need to know” by Decanter Magazine in 2020, and one of the “Top 100 Wine Discoveries of 2020” by Wine Advocate.
What Veronica Ortega wines taste like?
We’re a bit biased because Mencía has become one of our favorite varietals, so we are always looking for new wines to try.
Verónica’s red wines are very clean and polished, while still having a natural edge. They have a strong Atlantic influence, that keeps them fresh and electric on the palate.
All her vineyards are 70+ years old, and that shows in the complexity and flavor concentration of the wines. And of course, her extensive winemaking experience shows in each label.
Raventós i Blanc (Catalunya Region)
Forget everything you know about Spanish sparkling wines!
Pepe Raventós’ wines are so unique that they get their own category. And that’s not us saying –
the Spanish Wine Council created a new denomination called Conca del Riu Anoia D.O in Pénedes in 2012 to accommodate these wines. So far Raventós is the only producer in that denomination!
The Raventós winery dates back to 1497, but Pepe started working with his father in the late ’90s. He worked in Europe gathering experience doing vintages with Hubert Lamy in Burgundy, Gaston Chiquet in Champagne, and with the icon of the Loire, Didier Dagueneau.
Once back in Spain, Pepe joined his parents to revitalize the winery and create a small state-of-the-art, beautiful sparkling winery, to produce the highest-end sparkling wine possible.
What Raventós i Blanc wines taste like?
Raventós wines are on the same level as grower champagne. In fact, we listed them as one of the best alternatives to champagne in our store.
The wines are produced with native grapes from Penedès (Sumoll, Xarel-ló, Parellada), undergo long maturation (18+ months), and are some of the most mineral and precise sparkling wines out there.
Borja Perez Viticultor (Islas Canarias Region)
Borja Perez is a 4th generation winemaker in Tenerife. Top critics like Jancis Robinson and Tim Atkin point to him as one of the New Wave Spanish winemakers to watch. His specialty? Unique volcanic wines.
Borja restored old vines of indigenous Canary island grapes back to full health, and those are the varietals showcased in his wines: Listán Blanco, Listán Negro, Marmajuelo, and Baboso Negro
In the cellar, Borja takes a low-intervention approach, with nothing added to the wines except for a touch of sulfites at bottling – all his wines are considered low-sulfite wines.
What Borja Perez Viticultor wines taste like?
Incredibly mineral, they feel a bit like licking a rock. If you’ve tried other wines from volcanic soils such as the Mt. Etna wines, you know what we’re talking about!
Expect aromatic, textured wines, with great depth of flavor and an overall level of sophistication that is surprising coming from such a young winemaker.
Borja’s wines have a deep sense of minerality and authenticity to the Canary Island terroir.
Jimenez Landí (Mentrida Region)
Jimenez-Landí’s organic and minimal intervention winemaking dates back to 1963!
They are a family winery producing incredible, show-stopping Garnacha red wines.
Although many people think of Garnacha as simple, everyday wines, the Jimenez-Landi wines prove that there is another side to this variety and one that can rival Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy or Syrah in the northern Rhône.
Jimenez-Landi story is a familiar one that seems to repeat itself. It starts with returning to the vineyard, responsible farming, the nurturing of indigenous varieties, and old vines in unique sites. The work is not easy, but the results are remarkable.
What Jimenez Landí’s wines taste like?
We personally consider Jimenez Landí’s wines some of the Best Value wines in our shop. They’re focused, elegant, and smooth!
It’s not surprising that they are rated 90+ by every single important wine critic and recommended by Jancis Robinson as one of the 7 best Spanish Garnacha wines.
Are you excited to try some New Wave Spanish wines?
Our line-up of New Wave Spanish wine producers ends here (for now), but we’ll continue updating the list as we hear and try new great Spanish wines.
If you’d like to try new wines from the comfort of your home, we got you covered! Place your order online in our shop and receive your wines at your door anywhere in Mexico within 1-4 business days. Cheers!