Here are four tasty "wines of the moment" worth looking out for, sourced from two almost neighbouring, dynamic regions in northeast Spain, which are newish releases from Spanish specialist importer Burridges of Arlington St. based in Sussex, England, who supplies wine shops throughout the UK and Ireland. Stockists for the Cava include Firth Wines, Thomas Panton, some branches of Spirited Wines and members of the Merchant Vintners consortium: such as S.H.Jones, Portland Wine, House of Townend, Wallaces, Wineservice, The Vineyard (IOM) and Tanners. Retail price is about £8-£10 a bottle. More info @ burridgewine.com.
Castell d'Olérdola - Cava
I first came across this good-value Cava label in supermarkets and wine shops when I lived up the coast a bit from Barcelona for nine months back in the not too dim and distant. They're already listed in my Cava mini-guide, so it was good to retry a couple from this range made by the well-known Castillo Perelada group. Both wines sampled here see around 12 months lees-ageing in bottle, although the Reserva is then matured in their cavernous cellars for up to two more years after 'disgorgement' (ejecting the yeast sediment). They also produce Kosher Cava too, by the way.
Rosado (Trepat, Monastrell; 11.5% alc.) - the first one is a rare red Catalan variety, the second is what the Spanish call Mourvèdre; then again, they can call this Med-est of reds what they like, it all came from Spain originally! Quite delicate rosé fizz with lightly toasty notes vs red fruit cocktail, rounded off-dry vs lively mouth-feel and finish.
Reserva (Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada; 11.5%) - made from the three white Catalan staples: classier and drier, quite rich with oat biscuit flavours vs intense and crisp-ish. Nice quality fizz.
Bodegas Esteban Martín - Cariñena
This relatively small region lies east of Calatayud and west of Catalunya, and its vineyards are found on a dramatic plateau at 400 to 800m altitude making it a little cooler in summer (but still hot and dry) and pretty cold in winter. Established in 2003, Viñedos y Bodegas Esteban Martín is a modern family-run winery based in Alfamén smack in the middle of Cariñena, and is circled by a whopping 150 hectares (375 acres) of their own vines mixing Spanish and French varieties.
Vinem Crianza red 2008 (mostly old-vine Garnacha, Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot; 14% alc.) - touches of oak grain adding coco notes and texture, quite lush and plummy with sweet fruit vs savoury edges, chunky and powerful with well-balanced oak / tannins / alcohol vs attractive fruit.
Vinem red 2010 (Garnacha, Syrah; 13.5%) - peppery with black cherry and liquorice, soft fruity style vs a hint of dry grip and oomph, attractive easy-drinking red with some guts too.