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Good with shrimp

07 February 2014

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ONE of the last bottles of wine that I opened in 2013 was a Spanish white wine from a region that I have never visited. It came from the Ribeiro district in north-west Spain, and was, for me, one of the outstanding wines of the year. It was the 7 Cupos 2011 (Laithwaites, £12.49). It made a wonderful accompaniment to my potted shrimps.

For too long, the vinous reputation of Spain has rested almost entirely on Rioja, Sherry, and Cava. More recently, there has been increased exposure for the red wines of Ribera del Duero and Priorat, and the whites from Rueda and Rías Baixas, but in all there are no fewer than 69 denominaciónes de origen, as well as regional wines, and 14 individual classified vineyard estates, or pagos.

No fewer than 35 different regions were represented in the annual Wines from Spain Awards 2013. Reading the list of winners, it would seem that D. Byrne, of Clitheroe (www.dbyrne-finewines. co.uk) is the best place to go to if you want a selection of outstanding Spanish wines, closely followed by Noel Young, in Cambridge (www.nywines.co.uk). Many of the multiples, however, were listed as being among the stockists.

In the field of sparkling wines, the accolade for the "Best Value Cava" went to Waitrose in partnership with NV Brut from Castillo Perelada (£8.99); and, for lovers of something sweet and low in alcohol, there is the Mía Moscato from Freixenet, just 7% (Tesco, £9.99).

The awards for the Best White Wines, under £10 and over £10, not surprisingly went to wines made from the Albariño grape Rías Baixas: the under-£10 to Viña Ludy 2012 from Bodegas La Val (Morrisons £7.99); and the over-£10 to the Wine Society's Exhibition 2012 from Pazo de Señorans (£12.95).

It is not widely realised that Spain consumes more rosé wine than white, but Spanish rosés have not caught on with the British consumer. Four rosado wines were awarded - three of them stocked by Byrne's, but none by high-street names.

Among the red wines we find the biggest diversity of regions and prices. Laithwaite's Spanish buyer has found such gems as the Yecla, Gran Calera 2011, a blend of Monastrell (the Mourvèdre of southern France) and Syrah (£7.99), and the Altos de Rioja Altos R Rioja 2010 (£23). Majestic is well represented with the Marqués de la Concordia Hacienda Zorita Tempranillo 2010, from Castilla-León (£7.99); the Vintage Matsu "El Recio" 2010, from Toro (£15.99); and the Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero 2010 (£15.99). Ocado has one representative, the Viñas del Vero Secastilla Garnacha 2008, from Somontano, in the shadow of the Pyrenees (£21.30). Selected as the outstanding red wine at any price was the Cillar de Silos Torresilo 2009, again from Ribera del Duero, and available from Berry Bros. & Rudd and Oddbins for £35.

Finally, Waitrose had awards for two of its sherries, both from the Emilio Lustau bodega: the Solera Jerezana Dry Amontillado, and Palo Cortado, both selling for £9.75.

It takes a competition like this to truly show the range of wines that Spain now produces. They are well worth exploring.

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