May 6, 2016
AJ Linn (45 articles)


Any wine anorak who has the time, resources and good fortune to be able to tour bodegas around Spain will have to admit it is an impressive experience, but with nearly 70 officially-recognised wine regions, where to begin? I confess shamelessly to a weakness for the sherry triangle, that corner of western Andalucia bordered by Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This is the oldest wine-exporting region of Spain, and Falstaff’s ‘sack’ was being shipped to England in Shakespeare’s day. Best of all it is only a couple of hours’ drive from the Costa del Sol.

The second exporter historically is La Rioja. And yes, the Marqués de Riscal and the Marqués de Murrieta are real people who actually did bring vines from France that would later produce the first great Riojas.

We could delve into the less well-known wine regions, many of them making superb reds and whites, such as Somontano, El Bierzo, and Coto de Hayas, but at an international level the next candidate has to be Ribera del Duero.

Although Vega Sicilia is often quoted as Churchill’s favourite wine, this does not mean it has no rivals, and a better and more reasonably-priced candidate is unquestionably Arzuaga.

As the name indicates, this is a family from northern Spain with the confidence and foresight to see the promise held out by an awakening wine region. The huge 1,770 hectare estate they acquired in 1990 is still home to wild boar and deer. I visited in 1992, just as it was getting established, and there was no doubt even back then that this winery would emerge as one of the major players.

With a wide selection of reds to suit all tastes, the Crianza 2010 is unbelievable value at €15, and to celebrate 25 years the new La Planta and Amaya Arzuaga labels (Amaya is the famous dress designer of the family), together with the organic Reserva 2009, have just been released. And while on our travels, the luxury Arzuaga hotel provides food to match the wines, with even a wine spa. A five-star experience.

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AJ Linn

AJ Linn

AJ Linn se estableció en España hace más de 40 años tras una abreviada carrera en Inglaterra vinculada entre otras cosas con la importación de vinos. Ha vivido en El Puerto de Santa María y Cádiz, ahora Marbella, y durante las ultimas décadas se ha dedicado a varios negocios, hasta que actualmente se limita a escribir sobre vino, gastronomía, flamenco y el estilo de vida español. Aparte de su columna semanal en el Diario Sur, sus artículos se publican con regularidad en medios de habla inglesa, tanto en España como en el extranjero.


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