The NOTEBOOK Madrid.comExpert facts from local expats since 2001

One of the greatest things about living in Spain is the discovery of wine. In this section, we suggest wines representative of their area and current tendencies, wines coming from lesser known vineyards, not forgetting some great names which are impossible to leave out. 
The prices quoted are indicative.

Certainly the most famous Spanish wines all across the world. The area stretches out around the city of Logroño, in the north of Spain, just below the Basque country. The Rioja region is usually divided into three parts: the best wines are produced by the Rioja Alta (south-west of Logroño) and the Rioja Alavesa (north-west of Logroño), while the Rioja Baja region (east of Logroño) produces lesser quality wines.
Nowadays, Riojas are classified in two categories, each of them corresponding to a very different method of vinification:
The old school: According to this method now losing popularity, winegrowers favour the wood. This means keeping the wine in the barrels, rather than focusing on the quality and variety of the grape. The result is an oaky wine, often sold as Reserva or Gran Reserva. This method often makes for a heavy wine, which lacks flavour. Nevertheless, some are renowned wines, which have been on the market for a long time.
The new school: Consists of a new line of wines, ever more appreciated by wine drinkers. The new school favours the vine, the grape and the choice of grape variety instead of the time spent in the barrel. The vineyards are significantly smaller, harvests sometimes producing no more than 3,000 bottles a year. Winegrowers cultivate very old vines (40 to 50 years old) and are careful about using natural methods. They let their wine age in oak only a short time and always proceed depending on the quality of the picked grape, the reported weather conditions and the final result they want to get. Furthermore, barrels are always made from new wood, they are changed every other year or even every year.
 - In the old school category, we recommend two  “Crianza”: the Viña Alberdi and the Muga (from € 15 to 20 the bottle).
The Viña Ardanza Reserva is a little bit more expensive but very rather (around € 18 per bottle). 
The Viña Tondonia from the Bodega Lopez de Heredia, around € 22 the bottle is a must try.
We especially like the “Baron de Ley” bodega. This old vineyard now uses modern methods and 
produces an always appreciated wine at a very reasonable price (around € 12 to 18) depending on the year.
 - In the new school category, in the inexpensive range, Bodega Luis Cañas is a traditional vineyard now using modern methods: his Crianza is very good and his Reserva de Familia is excellent. They cost € 8 and 15 respectively (excellent value for money!). You can also try the Allende Crianza from Bodegas Finca Allende (€ 18 per bottle). 

In the more expensive range, we recommend trying the Roda 1 and Roda 2 Reservas, as well as the San Vicente. These wines are sold for € 20 to 30 per bottle.
 - In the top range, the Trasnocho (€ 70) from the Remirez de Ganuza Bodega is excellent. The wine-drinkers who are ready to invest should try the Grandes Añadas from the Artadi Bodega. The Reserva 2001 is sold for no less than 150 € per bottle! We hope you will indulge us our lack of professionalism: we didn’t check if it was that good!
The Cirsion (€ 150) is a must and is known as the “Vega Sicilia from Rioja. 

One of the smallest wine regions in Spain. Located south of Cataluña, near the city of Tarragona. They must produce the most expensive and elitist wines in the country. You don’t drink a Priorato the same way you drink a Rioja! Keep it for great occasions!
A few names to help you in your tasting:
Among the affordable Prioratos, we recommend the Martinet Bru and the Barranc del Clossos at € 12 per bottle. And if you really want to treat yourself, try the Doix (€ 50) and the Vall Llac (produced by the former singer Luis Llac) at € 60 a bottle. In the same price range, the Clos Mogador, produced by the famous winery René Barbier and Son, is probably the most powerful of all.
The region stretching all around the Priorato is acquiring a great reputation and expanding fast. This region is called Montsant and produces wines with great potential. We recommend that you try the wines of the Cellar de Capçanes(previously a cooperative): all of them are excellent (
LasendalCabridaMas DonisMas ColletCoster del Gravet). We especially liked the Venus de Sarah Perez at € 25 per bottle. 
This region, stretching around the river Duero, is located north of Madrid, between the cities of Segovia and Burgos, east of Valladolid. During the last ten years, it has become the cradle of powerful and outstanding wines that are highly rated by connoisseurs. The most famous wine in Spain, the Vega Sicilia, is made in this region. The Reserva Especial is hard to find and sells at around € 200 or 250 per bottle!
Ribera del Duero wines are not as easy to drink as Rioja wines. They are often more expensive. They are the result of a rigorous wine-making process through which winemakers always try to improve production quality. They are often more astringent than Riojas and are definitely wines that deserve to be better known.
Our favourite Ribera wines are without question the Pago de los Capellanes: this wine is just excellent and ended several times  in first position during the blind wine-tastings we like to organise with some friends. The Crianza is priced around € 17.
The Hacienda Monasterio, from the Bodega of the same name, is also one of our favourite. This vineyard produces around 300 000 bottles each year spread over Crianza and Reserva. Their cost per bottle of € 20 to 45 respectively, puts them in the middle-high range. But when you love it...
The investors should know that the oenologist of this cellar, Mr. Peter Sissek (of Danish origin), also produces a quite small production (5,000 bottles per year) of a personal wine in which he puts all his knowledge and “savoir-faire”: the Pingus. As the bottle costs € 1,000, it can be a challenge to open!
In the medium range, remember the Crianza 1998 from the quite new Navarro Bodega (founded in 1990), available at the reasonable price of € 15 per bottle. Also the Pesquera Crianzaand the Reserva from the Protos Bodegas (oldest vineyard in the region, founded in 1927). The Dominio de Atauta crianza , at € 26  per bottle  has been elected discovery of the year amongst the Ribera de Duero. 
Higher prices get you to the Alion. It comes from the so named vineyard and the Reserva costs € 35 per bottle. The owners also own the Vega Sicilia. 

A small region in the West of Spain, just near the city of Zamora and not far from the Ribera del Duero area, the Toro is very trendy nowadays. But those strong and heavy wines were already on the dining tables of the famous Salamanca University professors in 1215. The 6,ooo hectares of vines registered in this area produce fruity wines when young. They develop their body and complexity after aging in oak.
One of the most famous Toro is the Numanthia (€ 30-34). It is a wine that you need to decant at least four hours to reach its full potential. Its reputation is excellent but we were not that convinced!.
Excellent value: the Dehesa de la Granja. We enjoyed it and it should cost you less than € 14 per bottle. And also the Quinta de la Quietud at € 20 which is wonderful.
Among the inexpensive ones are the Vega Sauco at € 6 per bottle for their Crianza. For those who want to go further in their discovery, we recommend the San Roman, the Wences, thePagos de la Jarra and the Elias Mora Crianza (Between € 25 and € 30 per bottle). 
This is, without doubt, the largest wine area in Spain. Located to the south and south east of Madrid, it stretches on to the provinces of Ciudad Real, Toledo, Albacete and Cuenca. Long thought of as bottom of the range, Mancha wines have benefited lately from the great effort made to upgrade winemaking quality 

techniques. The effort was worth it and the region now enjoys a good reputation nationally. Prices are more affordable than the ones of the two other regions above. 
Regarding La Mancha wines, the Vinculo, at less than € 15 per bottle, is a wine that won our support during tasting. But at less than 10 € per bottle, we also recommend the Fontal crianza, theDehesa del Carrizal and the Calzadilla. If you wish to climb the price scale, the Quercus and the Emeritus, at € 20 to 25 respectively per bottle, are the ones to try. The Arrayan Bodega
in the area of Toledo, also produces excellent wines with prices ranging from € 18 up to 35 per bottle.
3 regions in the east of Spain are particularly well-known for their wines, which blend varieties of classic and native grapes (Monastrel and Bobal). All 3 regions benefit from a Mediterranean climate and their wines are great value for money. 
From the Jumilla region in Murcia province, theBodega Agapito Rico's Canalizo at  € 29 or the Casa de la Ermita 2000 (€ 8).
In the region of Alicante, the Estrecho from Bodega Enrique Mendoza (€ 26) or the Bodega Laderas de Pinoso's Sequé (€ 20).
In the Valencia region's Requena area, the Bodega Pagos de Molino produces an excellent wine, Arras de Bobal (€ 20). 
Located in the region of León in Castilla y León, Bierzo is a mountainous area similar to the Priorato region where the unusual Mencia grape is grown. Currently the "in" place for wines, wine expert Robert Parker has described it as one of the most promising regions of Spain together with Priorato and Jumilla (in the Levante region).

Cepas Viejas from the Bodega Dominio de Tares or J Palacios (Bodega Descendientes) and Petalos, both at € 12. Also try the pricier Tilenus from Bodega Estefanias at € 25.
South of Pamplona and south-east of the Rioja, this region of Spain produces inexpensive wines that we found rather flat and disappointing. Julián Chivite’s Winery is the only one worth lingering at. Founded in 1647, this vineyard made a legendary wine for its 125th birthday in 1772. Since then, it has been produced again each year: the Chivite Collección 125.

Still under the Chivite 125 name, the winery also produces an excellent, but expensive, white Chardonnay costing € 40 per bottle. The Gran Feudo Viñas Viejas, costing € 12 per bottle is also worth tasting, as well as a curiosity: a Vendimia Tardiva “sauterne” at € 18-24 per bottle.
We also recommend the Bodega Guelbenzu with its Guelbenzu Evo and its Guelbenzu LautusFlor de la Sierpe Reserva(respectively € 15 and 21). And if you are really fond of Navarra wines, you should try the recently launched Flor de la Sierpe Reserva (€ 15) from Dominio la Sierpe Bodega
The Penedes region near the Catalonian coast sells the most wine after Rioja. The reds are less interesting, but the white and rosé wines are worth knowing about.

There are a lot of cheap whites but also some quality ones such as those from the Bodega Torres Fransola (€ 16) or Milmanda (€ 35), considered among the best white wines in Spain.  We also recommend the Bodega Parés Balta's Más de Carol (€ 24), and among the reds, the Más Irene (€ 20). 
These are wines that don’t stick to strict rules of geographical origin or winemaking methods. They generally come from wineries whose exacting and enthusiastic owners and oenologists are always in search of perfection. 

These wines are excellent and, of course, quite expensive. They are to be saved for intimate dinners between connoisseurs.
Best value coming from the Ribera del Duero region: theMauro Crianza at less than € 20 per bottle. We didn’t taste the Reserva, which was much more expensive, but the Crianza already made our day!
Near the Riojas, the excessively good but expensive Leda, costing more than € 50 per bottle, belongs in the experts’ top ten of Spanish wines.
More affordable, the Abadia Retuerta Crianza Especial, produced near La Mancha, is a good wine at less than € 15 per bottle. 
The same vineyard also produces an interesting wine sold under the name of Campanario.
A wine not to be missed in the Segovia area is definitely theRibera de Polendos from the Bodega Agejas (€ 6).
Galicia, situated in the northwest of Spain manages to develop original vines. The best known are “el Albariño”, “el Godello” and “el Riveiro”. 
• The Albariño grape variety produces very fruity young white wines. Fermented in casks, they show vanilla and toasted bread aroma tones. These are very fresh and tasty wines. 
• The Godello grape variety produces dry white wines, which are very aromatic and structured and an excellent companion for fish and shellfish. 
• The Riveiro grape variety produces a slightly sweeter wine than the above varieties. The most representative wine from this DO is definitely the Viña Meín, sold for less than € 10 a bottle.
From Galicia, we recommend:
Albariño: Keep in mind the FillaboaVeigadares and Lagar de Cervera wines, all of them sold at around € 10-15 per bottle.
Godello: The Senén Guitián Winery is a good place to look: 12 hectares of wines, 9 of which exclusively used for the Godello grape variety. It produces only white wines: a young one that sells for around € 12 a bottle and a cask-fermented white wine that you should find at around € 18 per bottle.
Riveiro: The most representative wine from this DO is definitely theViña Meín, sold for less than € 10 a bottle.
From Rueda, we recommend:
To make up your own mind, taste José Pariente Verdejo’s wine costing less than € 10 per bottle, as well as the Limousin, produced by the famous Marqués de Riscal Winery. 
This winery also produces a white Sauvignon, which is pleasant but doesn’t add anything new. The Belondrade y Lurtón, slightly more expensive at € 20 per bottle, is worth it.

Bodega Santa Cecilia

This shop opened its doors in 1922. The wine selection is very comprehensive and you’ll also find alcohol coming from all over the world such as the famous Brazilian cachaza.

Reserva y Cata

Friendly cellar right in the heart of Madrid. The shop is rather small but the wine selection is good and the staff ready to help you.



The interior design of Lavinia is distinctive and elegant. It is probably the largest of Madrid’s cellars and you’ll find a very wide range of national and international wines. The wine list is available on the web but the shops are really worth a visit.

Enoteca Barolo

A pleasant, modern specialist wine shop with a comprehensive range and a sommelier who knows his stuff.  Wine can be tasted at a bar in the basement. Wine-tasting sessions can be arranged in advance.



Bodegas Santmery

Very comprehensive wine selection and a tasting bar where you can sample before making up your mind.